The Colorado Teaching and Certification Resource

For anyone looking into becoming a certified teacher in Colorado, aspiring teachers must complete the stipulated amount of teacher preparatory coursework and pass the standardized tests required by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Thankfully, obtaining a Colorado teacher certification is a fairly straightforward process, and is outlined on this page.

How to Become a Teacher in Colorado

Colorado educator certification is available in Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary certifications as well as Special Education Generalist and Special Education Specialist. Accordingly, applicants applying for Colorado teacher certification must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Secondary Education, or Special Education, depending on which area the applicant wishes to teach. Potential applicants may also hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in a subject area such as English or History, for instance, and go on to complete an alternative teacher education program to become eligible for licensure.

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In order to be approved by the Colorado Department of Education for the Initial Teachers License, which is valid for three years, applicants (with the appropriate bachelor’s degree) must complete an approved Colorado teachers certification program and meet the specific Colorado license requirements. The Colorado teacher certification requirements are as follows:

  • Completion of an approved teacher preparation program,
  • A criminal background check,
  • The successful completion of a criterion-based content examination such as the PLACE or Praxis II.

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Colorado

When looking for a state-approved Colorado teachers certification program, aspiring teachers must look for accredited schools. The Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education accredit teacher preparation schools locally. Degrees or credits received by schools not approved by these two organizations will not be accepted toward licensure requirements.

Additionally, the Colorado Department of Education looks for regional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). This organization is one of six regional accreditation agencies that are overseen by the US Department of Education.

When evaluating teaching schools in Colorado, applicants should confirm that it is in good standing with the NCA. Additionally, NCA also accredits online teaching certification schools, and even if it is headquartered out of Colorado state, it should be confirmed to be in good standing with one of the six regional agencies.

Additionally, applicants should look for schools that have been certified by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness or CAEP. This is a distinguished educator accreditation organization recognized by the US Department of Education. Although an accreditation from this organization is not mandatory for teacher certification schools, it serves as a strong indicator of a school’s quality curriculum, staff and operational procedure.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Colorado.

Quick Guide

Colorado Teacher Education Requirements

In order to fulfill the requirements for Colorado teacher certification, applicants must complete a program of study that leads to endorsement in Colorado. The program can be completed in or out of state at either a public or private institution, but must undergo an approval process by the Colorado State Board of Education in order for the applicant to be deemed eligible for Colorado teaching certification.

Colorado requires 800 hours of student teaching as part of the teacher preparation program. Upgrading from Initial to Professional Certification requires a Teacher Induction Program consisting of “supervision by mentor teachers, ongoing professional development and training, including ethics, and performance evaluations.”

For those who have either professional teaching experience or an out-of-state teaching certification, interstate reciprocity in Colorado is permitted under some circumstances. Out of state teachers and experienced teachers looking for Colorado teacher certification renewal procedures should contact the Colorado Department of Education.

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Colorado Teacher Outlook as of 2014
The Occupational Supply & Demand System projects 980 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 540 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 630 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Colorado from 2012-2022. Excluding special education, there are about 51,960 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Colorado according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013). The average annual salary is $49,720 for elementary school teachers, $50,300 for middle school teachers, and $51,540 for secondary school teachers in Colorado (BLS 2013). The Colorado Education Association is a good resource for current news and information relating to education professionals.

Colorado Teacher Testing Requirements

Colorado State SealUnlike most states, Colorado does not require a Basic Skills test, but it does require a Subject Area Competence test. In addition to completing the education requirements necessary for teaching certification in Colorado, an applicant must also take the Subject Area test to evaluate their competencies in the content area they wish to teach.

In Colorado, prospective teachers must take and pass the Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators (PLACE) examination or Praxis II in order to become eligible for certification. The PLACE exam is specifically designed for Colorado educators and thus is the preferred testing method, but the Colorado State Board of Education also accepts Praxis II scores for five teaching areas: Elementary Education, English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.

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Additional Colorado Teacher Certification Requirements

All applicants applying for teaching certification in Colorado must pass a criminal background check. Accordingly, all applicants must submit fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation prior to applying for certification. Fingerprinting locations can be found by inquiring at local police stations.

Colorado Teachers Licensing Application Process

  1. Submission of passing scored from the Colorado State Board of Education-approved PLACE or Praxis II content assessment tests
  2. Submission of fingerprints for background check to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  3. Verification of completed Colorado teacher certification program at accredited school
  4. Submission of required documentation (official transcripts, application, etc) and pay non-refundable application fees to the Colorado Department of Education

Professional Services & Educator Licensure
6000 E Evans Ave
Building #2, Suite 100
Denver, CO 80222

Visit the Colorado State Department of Education for full details on how to become a teacher in Colorado state.

Colorado School District Requirements

How to Become a Teacher in Denver

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Colorado Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 5,820 $30,910
Kindergarten Teachers 3,710 $44,820
Elementary School Teachers 23,360 $49,780
Middle School Teachers 12,800 $49,850
Secondary School Teachers 15,820 $51,500

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

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Colorado Teacher Interviews

Interview with Meg Jacobson, President of the Colorado Association of Science Teachers

Interview with Catherine Martin, President of the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Interview with Joan Sawyer, President of the Colorado Music Teachers Association

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Colorado

Question: How can you become a substitute teacher in Colorado?

Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Colorado, you must get a substitute authorization from the Department of Education. The department issues one-, three-, and five-year authorizations. For the one-year authorization, you only need to have a high school diploma or GED. The three-year authorization requires a college degree, and the five-year authorization requires a current or expired teaching certificate.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. Colorado State Department of Education: http://www.cde.state.co.us/
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000

Page edited by Charles Sipe.