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Earn Your License to Teach
Everything you need to know about getting licensed to teach in Colorado.
Earn Your License to Teach
Everything you need to know about getting licensed to teach in Colorado.

To get licensed to teach in Colorado:

 

Note: We do our best to keep all information updated, but because licensing requirements are regularly reviewed and revised, it is best to confirm requirements with your educator preparation program and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) before applying.

Which statement fits you best?

In Colorado, teachers earn a license to teach a specific set of grades and subjects. Whether you want to focus on a specific subject, like math, or a particular student population, like second-language learners, you’ll find a teaching area that fits you.

If you know what ages or grades you want to teach—your next steps are to:

  • Decide which subject/licensure area you’d like to teach (next section).
  • Select an educator preparation program that offers your desired licensure area and matches your current education level.
  • Apply to your educator preparation program.

Pro Tip: There are lots of different subject areas to teach at all ages and grade levels. At any level, getting licensed in a high-demand area provides more job opportunities. Your employment prospects may be stronger, especially at the elementary level, where there are a large number of applicants. 

If you want to teach elementary school, consider choosing a high-demand area: 

  • Special Education (K-12)
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (K-12)

If you prefer middle or high school, high-demand areas include:

  • Special Education (K-12)
  • Math (7-12) 
  • Science (7-12) 
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (K-12)

To broaden your options, you could also consider a subject area that allows you to teach in all grades, PK-12 (for a complete list, see Choosing a Licensure Area):

  • Special Education
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
  • Technology Education
  • Physical Education & Health
  • Dance
  • Music & Art

Read more about high-need and critical shortage areas for teachers, and the perks that come with teaching in these crucial areas.

Heads Up: Most licensure areas require specific tests. Review the Colorado Department of Education’s testing requirements to get a leg up on which assessments are required for the subject area you wish to teach.

  • I know what ages/grades I want to teach.

    If you know what ages or grades you want to teach—your next steps are to:

    • Decide which subject/licensure area you’d like to teach (next section).
    • Select an educator preparation program that offers your desired licensure area and matches your current education level.
    • Apply to your educator preparation program.

    Pro Tip: There are lots of different subject areas to teach at all ages and grade levels. At any level, getting licensed in a high-demand area provides more job opportunities. Your employment prospects may be stronger, especially at the elementary level, where there are a large number of applicants. 

    If you want to teach elementary school, consider choosing a high-demand area: 

    • Special Education (K-12)
    • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (K-12)

    If you prefer middle or high school, high-demand areas include:

    • Special Education (K-12)
    • Math (7-12) 
    • Science (7-12) 
    • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (K-12)

    To broaden your options, you could also consider a subject area that allows you to teach in all grades, PK-12 (for a complete list, see Choosing a Licensure Area):

    • Special Education
    • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
    • Technology Education
    • Physical Education & Health
    • Dance
    • Music & Art

    Read more about high-need and critical shortage areas for teachers, and the perks that come with teaching in these crucial areas.

    Heads Up: Most licensure areas require specific tests. Review the Colorado Department of Education’s testing requirements to get a leg up on which assessments are required for the subject area you wish to teach.

  • I know what subject I want to teach.

    If you know what subject you’d like to teach, your next steps are to:

    • Decide which ages or grade levels you’d like to teach.
    • Identify your licensure area (next section).
    • Select an educator preparation program that offers your desired licensure area and matches your current education level.
    • Apply to your educator preparation program.

    Pro Tip: When selecting ages or grade levels to teach, consider that your employment prospects may be stronger at the middle and high school levels than at the elementary level. And if you’re interested in teaching in a rural school, you’ll find plenty of opportunity there too!

    The greatest need for teachers is in state-designated shortage areas, many of which are at the middle and high school levels: 

    • Math (middle and high school)
    • Science (middle and high school)
    • Special Education
    • Special Service Providers (school counselor, school social worker, school psychologist, etc.)

    To broaden your options, you could also consider a subject area that allows you to teach in grades PK-12 (for a complete list, see Choosing a Licensure Area):

    • Special Education
    • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
    • Technology Education
    • Physical Education & Health
    • Music & Art

    Heads Up: Most licensure areas require specific tests. Review the Colorado Department of Education’s testing requirements to get a leg up on which assessments are required for the subject area you wish to teach.

  • I am considering a career change.

    If you’re considering teaching as the next stage in your career path, your next steps are to:

    • Decide which ages or grade levels and the subject area you’d like to teach.
    • Identify your licensure area (next section).
    • Select an educator preparation program that offers your desired licensure area and matches your current education level.
    • Apply to your educator preparation program.

    Pro Tip: If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree or have vocational work experience, you may be eligible for alternative pathways to licensure that put you in the classroom faster. Learn more about the alternative pathway and approved licensure areas.

    • Do you have a bachelor’s degree? Licensure-only or alternative licensure programs can get you licensed to teach without earning an additional degree. These programs may take less time and cost less than traditional licensure programs. Head over to About Programs to learn more.
    • Do you work in a trade or technical field? If you have experience as a skilled tradesperson or in certain vocations, you can get licensed to teach for a Career & Technical Education program in a middle or high school through an alternative program. Positions may be available in fields such as automotive, manufacturing, construction, culinary arts, hospitality, plumbing and others.
    • Are you a military veteran? Colorado students need veterans to serve again as their teachers. Check out Troops to Teachers for resources and opportunities available for veterans interested in teaching.
  • I’m already licensed to teach.

    If you’re already licensed to teach—in Colorado or elsewhere—your next step is to learn more about your eligibility for licensure by reviewing the Colorado Department of Education licensure page.

    These resources will help determine your pathway to Colorado licensure if you are:

    • An out-of-state or international educator looking to teach in Colorado.
    • A licensed Colorado educator interested in renewing or advancing your licensure.
    • A licensed Colorado educator wanting to add additional teaching areas to your license or earn an administrator license.

Consider a Critical Needs Subject or Shortage Area

You’ll have more job opportunities—and make a bigger impact—teaching in a high-need area. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may also be able to start teaching (and start getting paid) sooner through an alternative licensure program. 

The Colorado Department of Education lists the following hard-to-staff areas that may qualify for teacher loan forgiveness or other district-level incentives:

  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse 
  • Math, Secondary Grades (7-12) 
  • Special Education (K-12)
  • Special Service Provider
  • Teachers in rural schools

Some programs offer scholarships or forgivable loans to pay for your education preparation program if you commit to teaching in hard-to-staff areas:

  • The Colorado Rural Teaching Fellowship offers $10,000 of financial assistance to future educators in the final year of teacher preparation who commit to teaching in a rural school district.
  • You may also be eligible for student loan relief from Uncle Sam if you’re willing to commit to teaching for several years in high-need areas, thanks to the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

Choosing a Licensure Area

Once you know your grade and subject preferences, you can select a licensure endorsement area.

Pro Tip: You can add endorsement areas in different grade levels and subject areas throughout your teaching career. You don’t have to get all your endorsements at once. ?

  • Elementary & Early Childhood

    These licensure areas allow you to teach in multiple subject areas at the early childhood and elementary school levels.

    Licensure Area Range Critical Need
    Early Childhood Education  Ages 0-8   
    Elementary Education K-Grade 6  
    Early Childhood Special Education Ages 0-8  

     

  • Exceptional Children

    These licensure areas allow you to teach students with disabilities or students who require additional academic supports at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

    Licensure Area Range Critical Need
    Gifted Education Core Pre K-12  
    Gifted Education Specialist Pre K-12  
    Special Education Generalist Ages 5-21
    Special Education Specialist Ages 5-21
    Early Childhood Special Education Ages 0-8  
    Special Education Specialist: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ages 0-21  
    Special Education Specialist: Visually Impaired Ages 0-21  

     

  • Humanities & World Language

    These licensure areas allow you to teach in humanities subject areas in middle or high school, and reading or world languages at all levels.

    Licensure Areas Grade Range Critical Need
    English Language Arts 7-12  
    Reading Teacher K-12  
    Reading Specialist K-12  
    Speech 7-12  
    Social Studies 7-12  
    World Languages  K-12  
    American Sign Language K-12  
    French K-12  
    German K-12  
    Italian K-12  
    Japanese K-12  
    Latin K-12  
    Mandarin Chinese K-12  
    Russian K-12  
    Spanish K-12  
    Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education K-12
    Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Bilingual Education Specialist  K-12

     

  • Science & Math

    These licensure areas allow you to teach science and math subjects at the middle school or high school levels.

    Licensure Areas Grade Range Critical Need
    Mathematics: Middle School 6-8
    Mathematics: Secondary 7-12
    Science 7-12  

     

  • Fine Arts, Media, Physical Education, & Health

    These licensure areas allow you to teach in one of several enrichment subject areas at the elementary, middle and high school levels. 

    Licensure Area Grade Range Critical Need
    Drama Theater Arts  K-12  
    Health K-12  
    Music K-12  
    Physical Education K-12  
    Visual Arts K-12  
    Dance K-12  

     

  • Career & Technical Education

    These licensure areas allow you to teach in career and technical-education subject areas at the middle and high school level.

    Licensure Area Grade Range Critical Need
    Agriculture and Natural Resources Education 7-12  
    Business/Marketing 7-12  
    Family and Consumer Sciences 7-12  
    Instructional Technology K-12  
    Technology Education 7-12  
    Instructional Technology Specialist K-12  
    Trade and Industry 7-12  

     

Your Pathway to Teaching

Most Colorado teachers begin with an Initial Teacher License for new educators.
  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university.

    Colorado accepts degrees from a large number of universities, but you should confirm that yours is a regionally accredited college or university. The bachelor’s degree you earn should be in a field closely related to what you want to teach. To be accepted into a Colorado educator preparation program, you generally need a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 for all undergraduate courses.

    Keep in mind that you can earn your degree and your teaching license at the same time, so if you’re an undergraduate, see step 2 below.

  2. Complete a state-approved educator preparation program.

    You can meet this requirement either as part of your undergraduate coursework, or by completing a master’s or licensure-only program after you graduate.  

    Generally, you’ll need a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 for all undergraduate courses and passing scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills Tests or SAT or ACT. Each program sets its own requirements for admission and completion. 

    Through your preparation program, you will:

    • Take coursework related to the specific subject and grade levels you want to teach, along with courses on teaching best practices (pedagogy).
    • Participate in hands-on, clinical experiences in a variety of classroom settings, where you can observe and practice with instructors, mentors and teachers who are effective and experienced.
  3. Pass Colorado licensure assessments.

    Most Colorado educator preparation programs require teacher candidates to pass specific tests that evaluate your knowledge of teaching and the subject area you wish to teach. Your educator preparation program will determine the timing of when you will take these assessments.

  4. Submit an application to the state and pay the application fee.

    After you meet the requirements above, it’s time for you to formally apply for your teaching license. First, confirm with your educator preparation program that you are eligible to apply. After that, check out the Colorado Department of Education website to apply for your license. 

    Pro Tip: By creating an online account with the Licensing Office, you can apply for your license online, pay fees, check the status of your application or print unofficial copies of your license.

Adding it Up

Teaching is the greatest opportunity to shape the trajectories of young people’s lives—and the future of our world. While the experiences you’ll have are priceless, you may be wondering what it costs to get licensed to teach in Colorado. 

The total costs will vary depending on the educator preparation program you attend and the tests required for your licensure area. Below are some of the costs you can expect while applying for your license: 

  • Initial educator license: $90
  • Out-of-state initial educator license: $110
  • Content-specific exams: Starting at $120

Pro Tip: It's understandable to have your eye on the cost of educator preparation programs, but there are lots of scholarships, loan forgiveness and other funding opportunities that may lower program costs for future teachers. Check out Financial Aid & Scholarships to learn more.

Additional Resources

Looking to dive a little deeper? ?
  • Educator Preparation Program Profiles

    Head over to Explore Programs to learn more about TEACH Colorado’s participating educator preparation options.

    Learn More
  • Troops to TeachersLearn More
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