How to Become a Teacher in Colorado

how to become a teacher in Colorado

Now is the time to become a Colorado teacher. Teaching is a unique profession because it allows you to change the lives of others. Even if you did not earn a bachelor’s degree in Education, it does not mean your opportunity to become a teacher in Colorado is over. In five easy steps, you can transition into a new career. Follow this guide to realize your dream of becoming a Colorado teacher.

This is not a journey to take alone. Organize your steps and find partners along the way. We have started the work for you and outlined the steps below for how to become a Colorado teacher. Use the links in this guide and reach out to the suggested resources and organizations. There are many opportunities in teaching, and we want to help you. So, let’s get started!

Becoming a Teacher in Colorado

1. Obtain a Teaching Degree

To become a teacher in Colorado, you must hold a bachelor’s degree and complete a state-approved teacher education program. If you have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program, there are other pathways to earn a teaching license. If you major in education, your university will guide you through the steps to becoming a certified teacher in Colorado.

2. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Candidates must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) offers a teacher preparation program search that includes traditional and alternative licensure programs. You can search for approved teacher training programs through the CDE website.

3. Take Required State Testing

The Colorado Department of Education conducts certification testing in Colorado. In-depth information regarding endorsements can be found here. Candidates seeking a Colorado Teaching License can be earned in three ways:

an earned bachelor’s degree or higher in the content area from a regionally accredited college/university 

24 semester hours of specific coursework as outlined on the endorsement worksheet 

a passing score on a Colorado-approved content exam 

4. Apply for Certification

You must have a COOL licensure account before beginning the application process and submitting a set of fingerprints. The application process involves submitting the following:

  1. fingerprints for a background check
  2. copies of official transcripts
  3. passing scores on required state tests
  4. approved verification form
  5. a completed application and application fee

Before applying for certification, you must submit a set of fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. If the Colorado Department of Education does not receive a candidate’s background check within 30 days, the candidate must be fingerprinted again. Once you have completed all Colorado teaching license requirements, you must submit your application. You can use the Application Checklist to ensure you have everything you need to apply for licensure.

5. Apply to a Teaching Position

The Colorado Department of Education makes searching for current Colorado teacher jobs easier. To have a successful job search, you must write a resume and cover letter tailored to your desired position. Also, think of at least two professors, colleagues, or internship supervisors who can serve as references for you during your job search. The Colorado Department of Education makes searching for current Colorado teacher jobs easier. Individual school districts also post jobs on their websites, and in-person and virtual job fairs can help you efficiently apply and interview for jobs all over the state of Colorado. 

How to Become a Teacher at Various Grade Levels

You must pass the Praxis Content Exam(s) for the licensure you seek.

  • Early Childhood Education Birth-8 and Elementary Education: 
    • (5024) Education of Young Children PreK-3
    • (5901) Elementary Education: Three Subject Bundle- Mathematics, Social Studies, & Science (all three subtests)
    • (5903) Elementary Education: Three Subject Bundle- Mathematics 
    • (5904) Elementary Education: Three Subject Bundle- Social Studies 
    • (5905) Elementary Education: Three Subject Bundle- Science
    • (5205) Teaching Reading: Elementary 
  • Secondary Education: 
    • (5701) Agriculture 7-12
    • (5101) Business Education: Content Knowledge 7-12
    • (5038) English Language Arts: Content Knowledge 7-12
    • (5122) Family and Consumer Sciences 7-12
    • (5561) Marketing Education 7-12
    • (5165) Mathematics 7-12
    • (5164) Middle School Mathematics 6-8
    • (5435) General Science: Content Knowledge 7-12
    • (5081) Social Studies: Content Knowledge 7-12
    • (5221) Speech Communication: Content Knowledge 7-12
    • (5051) Technology Education 7-12
  • All Grades 
    • (5135) Art: Content and Analysis K-12
    • (5362) English to Speakers of Other Languages K-12
    • (5641) Theatre K-12
    • (5358) Gifted Education PreK-12
    • (5551) Health Education K-12
    • (5652) Computer Science K-12
    • (5113) Music: Content Knowledge K-12
    • (5091) Physical Education: Content Knowledge K-12
    • (5311) Library Media Specialist K-12
  • World Languages
    • (5174) French: World Language
    • (5183) German: World Language
    • (5661) Japanese: World Language
    • (5601) Latin
    • (5665) Chinese (Mandarin): World Language
    • (5195) Spanish: World Language
  • Special Education
    • (5691) Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood Birth-8
    • (5354) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications Ages 5-21
    • (5272) Special Education: Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Ages 5-21
    • (5282) Special Education: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments Ages 5-21
  • Leadership
    • (6991) School Superintendent Assessment K-12
    • (5412) Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision
  • Instructional Support Personnel
    • (5343) Audiology
    • (5421) Professional School Counselor SSP only; Birth-21
    • (5402) School Psychologist
    • (5331) Speech-Language Pathology

Renewing Your Teaching Certification

Once you obtain your Colorado Professional Teaching License, you must renew it every seven years. To renew, educators must pay a $90 fee and complete 90 contract hours. Teachers with an Elementary, English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, or any middle-level endorsement must also complete an English Learner Professional Learning designation for licenses expiring Sept 1, 2025, or after. For other Colorado licenses, you can view the renewal process here.

Teaching Job Outlook and Salary in Colorado

According to the Colorado Department of Education, the average salary of a teacher in Colorado was $60,168 in 2021-2022. The average salary per district ranged from $29,000-$84,000. These pay scales vary. Be sure to research district pay scales before filling out your job applications.

Colorado Districts With the Highest Average Salaries

According to the Colorado Department of Education, the following five school districts offered the top pay for Colorado teachers in 2021-2022. The average pay for teachers in these school districts ranged from $72,00 to $84,000 annually.

Boulder Valley RE 2(84,505)

Cherry Creek 5($77,282)

Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind ($73,831)

Littleton Public Schools ($73,196)

Westminster Public Schools($72,253)

Can You Be a Teacher Without a Degree in Colorado?

A bachelor’s degree and completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program are required to be a fully-certified classroom teacher in Colorado. If you did not earn a bachelor’s degree in education, there are alternative paths to earn your Colorado Licensure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Teaching in Colorado

Which teaching positions are in-demand?

The US Department of Education publishes a yearly list of Colorado teacher shortage areas. Mathematics Pre-K-12, Special Education Pre-K-12, Early Childhood, General Education Pre-K-12, English as a Second Language Pre-K-12, and World Languages Pre-K-12 teachers were on the state-wide list for the greatest need for the 2022-2023 school year. High-demand teacher needs can be accessed on the US Department of Education website.

What is the average salary for teachers in Colorado?

According to the Colorado Department of Education, in 2021-2022, the average Colorado teacher made $60,168. However, the average teacher’s salary ranged between an average salary of $29,000 and $84,000. Depending on the criteria for averaging districts, the numbers will differ. Generally, teachers in rural areas make less, and teachers in urban or suburban areas make more.

How long does it take to become a teacher in Colorado?

Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, which takes approximately four years, you will need to complete a teacher preparation program that can take one to two years. When you finish your teacher preparation program, you will take your Colorado state certification examinations and apply for a Colorado teacher certification. Within 45 days of submission of a completed application, the Colorado Department of Education will evaluate your application. Once your application has been evaluated, the certificate will be issued through the candidate’s COOL account.

How much does it cost to become a teacher in Colorado?

Becoming a teacher in Colorado requires a financial commitment. The main initial cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree will vary widely from person to person. There are several resources available to help teachers pay for their degrees and Colorado education licensure requirements. If you are majoring in education or are going directly into the field upon graduation, look into grant and loan programs. The Colorado Department of Education has provided information for financial support here.

In addition to the bachelor’s degree, other costs associated with becoming a Colorado teacher include the required teacher preparation program, state certification tests ($90-$200 per exam), state application fee ($90), fingerprinting ($39.50) and background check ($80). Plan for the financial costs, and your teaching career will be off to a great start.

What other certifications can teachers in Colorado obtain?

The short answer is…many! After you receive your initial certification, you can add additional endorsements to your certification in three ways.

  • Take an additional content exam.
  • Complete a degree or 24 hours of semester coursework.
  • Complete an approved program.

Once you have met the requirements for the endorsement you want to add to your certification, you will log into your COOL account and start your application. You must also ensure you have a current background check on file. More information about requirements for adding additional endorsements can be found here.


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Interested in becoming a teacher in a different state? Check out these additional articles:

How to Become a Teacher in Texas
How To Become a Teacher in North Carolina
How To Become a Teacher in Florida
How to Become a Teacher in Ohio
How to Become a Teacher in Illinois
How to Become a Teacher in Tennessee
How to Become a Teacher in Virginia
How to Become a Teacher in Wisconsin
How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas