How to Become a Teacher in Denver

The public school board in Denver is Denver Public Schools (DPS), which is responsible for over 91,000 students in 199 schools across the city.1 To work as a teacher in Denver, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree and approved teacher preparation program to earn Colorado teacher certification. Private and charter schools in the Denver area might not require certification and may have different hiring requirements. Continue reading to learn more about options for becoming a teacher in Denver’s public, private, and charter schools.

Denver Teacher Certification Requirements

Teachers in Denver must first earn certification from the Colorado Department of Education to be eligible to teach in the state. The traditional path to certification requires prospective teachers to complete a bachelor’s degree and approved teacher preparation program and successfully pass the appropriate exams for the certification sought. For traditional route candidates, the preparation program can be completed as part of the bachelor’s degree. Read our Colorado teacher certification guide to learn more.

Aspiring teachers who already have a bachelor’s degree may be eligible for Colorado alternative teacher certification, which involves completing an approved teacher preparation program and passing the required exams depending on the subjects and ages you plan to teach. Learn more about the alternative path through our guide to alternative teacher certification in Colorado.

Teacher Certification Programs in Denver

The following list presents colleges and universities in the Denver area that offer teacher preparation programs approved by the state for first-time certification or additional endorsements. You can also read more about teacher certification programs in the state through our Colorado schools guide.

  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • University of Colorado-Boulder
  • University of Colorado-Denver

Denver School District Steps for Becoming a Teacher

Earning a Colorado teaching certificate is the first step toward becoming a teacher in Denver. You can complete a traditional bachelor’s program with an approved teacher preparation component or an alternative teacher preparation program if you already have a bachelor’s degree. See the Certification section for more detailed information. Once you have been certified, you can follow these steps to look for a job in the Denver Public Schools district.

Step 1: Complete the pre-screening process.

First, submit a General Teaching application online. You will be asked to provide your teaching history, license information, a resume, and an essay and have the option to upload references, a cover letter, and other supporting documents. Your application will be reviewed by human resources within seven days and then you will be scheduled for a 20-minute phone interview with the human resources team to complete the pre-screening process.

Step 2: Apply to specific positions online.

After passing the pre-screening process, you will be able to apply for specific open positions on the Denver Public Schools job board. Eligible candidates may be contacted for an interview by the school. If you have not provided them already, bring the following to the interview: official college transcripts, a copy of a valid teaching certificate and/or license, a sample lesson plan, and three professional references.

Step 3: Complete the hiring process.

If you are offered a position with the school system, you will need to complete the hiring process with a human resources department or other district hiring authority. This may include a background check or a basic health check before your first day. The school will inform you of next steps at the time of hiring.

Contact Information

Denver Public Schools
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DenverPublicSchools
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DPSNewsNow

1860 Lincoln St
Denver, CO 80203
(720) 423-3200

How to Become a Substitute Teacher with the Denver School District

Prospective substitute teachers with Denver Public Schools must have at least a bachelor’s degree and appropriate state certification. Candidates who do not have a teaching certificate may be eligible for the state’s three-year or five-year substitute authorization. The three-year authorization is open to candidates with a bachelor’s degree while the five-year authorization is open to candidates with a current or expired Colorado teaching certificate. Once you have your certification, you can apply to the substitute teaching pool. If your application is successful, you will be invited for an interview and be able to accept open assignments. Substitutes must be able to work at least five days per month.

Private and Charter School Teacher Requirements in Denver

Private and charter schools in Denver may have different requirements for teaching positions than those of Denver Public Schools. While state teaching certification is not generally required in private schools, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, private and charter schools may require candidates to hold a master’s degree or have demonstrated experience in the subject matter. It is best to read individual job postings to ensure you meet the requirements.

The Largest K-12 Schools in Denver

We compiled the table below to help you compare the largest K-12 public, private, and charter schools in Denver that regularly hire qualified teachers.

SchoolTypeGrade Level# StudentsStudent-Teacher
Place Bridge AcademyPublicPK-897814:1
Kunsmiller Creative Arts AcademyPublicK-1296818:1
Bill William Roberts K-8 SchoolPublicPK-890920:1
McAuliffe International SchoolPublic6-81,15817:1
Hamilton Middle SchoolPublic6-888916:1
Florida Pitt Waller SchoolPublicPK-886019:1
East High SchoolPublic9-122,65921:1
South High SchoolPublic9-121,60518:1
George Washington High SchoolPublic9-121,23918:1
Omar D. Blair Charter SchoolCharterK-880115:1
Denver Language SchoolCharterK-874816:1
Rocky Mountain Prep CreeksideCharterPK-561215:1
Colorado AcademyPrivatePK-129926:1
Mullen High SchoolPrivate9-1280214:1
Graland County Day SchoolPrivatePK-87007:1

See Table Notes and References at bottom of page.

Denver Teacher Salary and Jobs Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area earned an average annual salary between $54,370 and $58,980 in 2018, with kindergarten teachers earning the lowest of the range and secondary school teachers earning the highest of the range.2 This range was comparable to state and national averages over the same time period.3,4

Long-term projections for teachers in Colorado show moderate growth for teachers in the Denver metropolitan area through 2028.5

Denver Teacher Shortage Areas

The US Department of Education bases some student loan forgiveness programs on teacher shortage areas, meaning that your chances of qualifying for loan forgiveness may be stronger if you are teaching a subject that has been formally identified as a shortage area. You may also qualify for other funding opportunities or a more competitive salary based on your endorsement(s). Note that shortage areas may change from year to year, so you should be sure to check with state education agencies, your selected education program, and your student loan providers about funding options. For the 2020-2021 school year, the following subject areas were recognized as shortage areas in Denver (and statewide):6

  • Art and Music Education (K-12)
  • Career and Technical Education-Business Education (7-12)
  • Early Childhood (PreK)
  • Early Childhood Special Education (Birth-8)
  • English as a Second Language (K-12)
  • Mathematics (PreK-12)
  • Science (7-12)
  • Special Education (PreK-12)
  • World Languages (Modern and Classical)

Denver Teaching Jobs Boards

Look for teaching jobs in Denver online by searching job boards found at the sites listed below. You can also visit our jobs board to search for teaching jobs in Denver and beyond.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How much do teachers in Denver make?

Answer: The starting salary for Denver teachers is $45,800, which is the highest starting salary for metropolitan area public schools (including schools in Jefferson, Aurora, and Adams counties).7 Incentives are offered for serving in low-income schools, and teachers receive regular pay increases as well as opportunities to qualify for student loan or tuition reimbursement programs.

Question: What types of teachers are most in demand in Denver?

Answer: Denver public schools need teachers at all levels and subjects. However, the DPS has identified certain areas as being “hard to staff,” and offers incentives in these areas. For the 2019-2020 school year, these included English Language Acquisition (Spanish), Special Education-Bilingual Qualified, Mathematics (7-12), and Secondary Mild/Moderate Special Education.7

Question: How much do substitute teachers in Denver make?

Answer: The pay for substitute teachers varies based on qualifications. New substitutes are called “guest teachers” and are paid $111.12 per day.8 After 50 full day assignments, this is raised to $146.80 per day.8 Retired teachers who are substituting earn $125.92 per day as guest substitutes, and $160.72 per day after 50 full day assignments.8

Table Notes and References:
1. Niche, Largest Schools in Denver: https://www.niche.com/k12/search/largest-schools/t/denver-denver-co/

1. Denver Public Schools – Facts and Figures: https://www.dpsk12.org/about/facts-figures/
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood Metropolitan Division: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_19740.htm#25-0000
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Colorado: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm#25-0000
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#25-0000
5. Colorado Department of Labor and Employment LMI Gateway: https://cdle.colorado.gov/dlss
6. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas, Pennsylvania, 2020-2021: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports
7. Denver Public Schools Careers: https://careers.dpsk12.org/teach/teachercomp/
8. Denver Public Schools Jobs Board: https://dpsjobboard.dpsk12.org/ltmprod/CandidateSelfService/controller.servlet?context.dataarea=ltmprod&webappname=CandidateSelfService&context.session.key.HROrganization=1&context.session.key.JobBoard=EXTERNAL&_saveKeys=true&JobPost=3&JobReq=35496&context.session.key.noheader=true#