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Start Teaching Before You Earn Your License

With an alternative teaching license, you can start teaching right away, earn a salary and complete your preparaton program — all at the same time.

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More than ever, districts are working hard to find high-quality teachers. There are thousands of open teaching positions in school districts across Colorado. If you’ve already earned your bachelor’s degree, you may be able to start your teaching career sooner than you think.

With an alternative teaching license, you can get on-the-job experience (and a paycheck) while you get licensed to teach. Here, we’ll go over the steps to get started on this pathway.

Download the Alternative Licensure Guide

What is an alternative teaching license?

An alternative teaching license is a special teaching permit you can receive while you work toward your professional teaching license.

Through this pathway, you can earn a salary, take classes that accommodate your work schedule as a first-year teacher, and complete your licensure coursework in under two years.

How is this different from a traditional pathway?

Through a traditional licensure pathway, you typically must apply to a teaching program that results in a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, too. During these types of programs you are required to take specific coursework and complete in-field teacher training. Traditional teaching programs often take longer to complete.

Who should consider alternative licensure?

Alternative licensure is a great option for anyone with a bachelor's degree who wants to make a quick transition into teaching. This pathway is ideal for career changers and non-licensed staff members interested in pursuing teaching.

How to get your alternative teaching license

There are a few steps to get your alternative teaching license — and lots of resources to help! Let's take a look:
  1. 1

    Make sure you’re eligible

    To qualify for an alternative teaching license, you’ll need to:

    • Have a bachelor's degree.
    • Show that you know your subject well enough to teach. Depending on your teaching subject, you’ll need to either: 
      • Pass the Praxis content exam for your teaching subject OR 
      • Have subject-specific coursework in your teaching subject.

    The TEACH Colorado Testing Guide and Praxis Guide cover everything you need to know about content exams, from registration to study materials to what to expect on test day. 

    Do I need to take a test?

    If you plan to teach early childhood, elementary or special education, you’ll need to take the Praxis content exam for your teaching subject.

    If you plan to teach middle school, high school or an all-grade subject (like art, P.E. or a language), you can either take the content exam or have subject-specific coursework in your teaching subject.

    Wondering what counts as “subject-specific coursework”? Get more details in the FAQ section on this page! 

  2. 2

    Decide what you want to teach and choose the teaching license you want to earn

    The teaching license you earn will depend on the subject and grade level you want to teach. The TEACH Colorado Licensure Guide has a full list of your options!

  3. 3

    Make sure your choice of subject is available through alternative licensure

    Each teaching program offers a different set of licensure options, but most subjects are available! Check with individual programs to see if they have the licensure area you want. You can find this information with the TEACH Colorado Program Explorer

  4. 4

    Apply for teaching jobs in a Colorado school district

    To get your alternative teaching license, you’ll need to work in a district that participates in the alternative licensure program (most do). You can find job boards from districts across Colorado at the TEACH Colorado Alternative Licensure page.

    In your job application, you’ll also need to complete a “statement of assurance.” This lets the state know that you plan to participate in the alternative licensure program. 

    Keep in mind that your teaching job must be in the same grade level and subject area that you plan to teach once you’re fully licensed!

  5. 5

    Apply to teaching programs and enroll

    Once you get the job, your school district will help you with this step. You’ll need to enroll in a program that supports alternative licensure teacher candidates. (You can see a list of programs in the Program Options section on this page.)

  6. 6

    Apply for your alternative teaching license

    You’ll apply through the COOL (Colorado Online Licensing) portal. Gather your college transcripts and your resume. Your school district can help with the rest.

  7. 7

    Complete a background check

    For this step, you’ll submit your fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation

  8. 8

    The Colorado Department of Education will review your application

  9. 9

    Start teaching!

    Once you have your alternative teaching license, you’re ready to step into the classroom and start your new career.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about alternative licensure in Colorado? We’ve got answers!

Colorado Alternative Licensure Programs

Colorado has alternative licensure programs across the state. Check out these options in the TEACH Colorado Program Explorer:

Talk to a Coach

A TEACH Colorado coach can help you decide if alternative licensure is right for you. Set up a 1:1 coaching session for free!
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