Colorado Alternative Teacher Certification

Colorado offers pathways to alternative teacher certification designed to attract qualified professionals to the field of teaching. These pathways are designed for career changers who hold a bachelor’s degree and typically require candidates to complete additional education in order to qualify for a standard certificate. Continue reading to learn more about the pathways to teaching that may be available to you in Colorado.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

In order to be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Colorado, you must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an institution accredited by an organization recognized by the Colorado Department of Education and be willing to work full time as a teacher while simultaneously receiving mentoring and education through an approved program. Completing an approved program is a necessary step to ensure that credentialed teachers have the knowledge and skills necessary to teach effectively. Alternative preparation programs typically lead to a post-graduate certificate, though certification is also possible by earning a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved certification program. Any alternative program completed must have a physical location in Colorado for graduates to be considered for licensure.

Applicants must also clear a background check and demonstrate proficiency in the content area for the endorsement area being sought by passing the appropriate exams.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Colorado

There are different pathways to obtain alternative teacher certification in Colorado depending on the candidate’s educational background and the subject and grade levels he or she wishes to teach. Note that alternative certification programs are typically designed for those who have a bachelor’s degree in a teachable subject, but did not previously complete a teacher preparation program. Note also that candidates can only pursue alternative licensure in one endorsement area.

Colorado Alternative Teacher Program

One and two-year alternative teaching programs are available to qualified candidates through Colorado Designated Agencies. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree, have completed a background check, and have passed the appropriate exams for the credential they will be seeking. In a one-year program, the prospective teacher begins teaching in the classroom immediately while taking coursework whereas the two-year program involves a first-year mentoring and induction program prior to actual classroom teaching. In both programs, the eligible candidate can apply for an Initial Colorado Teacher’s License after completing the alternative program successfully.

Career and Technical Education Authorization

Prospective teachers of career and technical education subjects may apply for an Initial CTE Authorization provided that they meet the requirements for the content area to be taught. These requirements vary by subject area but typically include at least 24 semester hours of college coursework in designated areas and 2,000 hours of verified occupational experience within the content area. An Initial CTE Authorization is valid for three years and cannot be renewed. While teaching under this certificate, candidates must make up any coursework deficiencies and successfully meet the experience requirements designated by the Colorado Department of Education at the time that an Initial Authorization was issued. Those who meet these requirements may convert to a Professional CTE Authorization, which is renewable.

Testing Requirements for Colorado Alternative Certification

All Colorado educators must successfully pass a content area exam to demonstrate knowledge in the subject area to be taught. The exam required varies based on the subject area. Refer to the Colorado Department of Education for information on which exams are accepted for the subject you wish to teach.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Candidates who hold a current and valid out-of-state teaching license may be eligible for teaching license reciprocity in Colorado if they have three or more years of teaching experience within the previous seven years and have completed a teacher preparation program. Applicants must also pass the appropriate content assessments to become licensed educators in Colorado. Those with less than three years of experience may be issued an Interim Authorization. Contact the Colorado Department of Education for further information.

Colorado School District Requirements

Additional Resources

Schools with Alternative Certification Programs in Colorado

Because the alternative certification process is complex, we have researched and provided specific school programs below for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree outside of education and want to become a teacher. We recommend you request information from one or more of these specific programs:

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1. Colorado State Department of Education: http://www.cde.state.co.us/