How to Become a Teacher in Colorado
Teaching has long been recognized as one of the most rewarding professions, and teachers are in constant demand, making it a stable profession as well. Even with the high demand, teachers must meet certain educational and personal requirements to be eligible for employment. In Colorado, you must complete a pre-licensing process and a license application before you are eligible to apply for a job.
Meeting the Initial Requirements for Licensure
Get a bachelor’s degree.All teachers in Colorado (and the other 49 states) must have a bachelor’s degree in order to obtain an Initial Teacher’s License. In addition, your degree must be from an accredited institution.
- In September 2019, the Department of Education withdrew recognition of the agency accrediting many for-profit schools, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. If you received you bachelor’s degree from a for-profit institution, it may be a barrier to obtaining a teacher’s license in Colorado.
- Colorado does not recognize accreditation from the following: the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., Commission on Technical and Career Institutions, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Complete an approved teacher preparation program.If you received a Bachelor’s in Education from a state college or university in Colorado, you probably already completed the teacher preparation program as a part of your course of study. However, if you do not fall into that category, you will have to enroll in and complete a course at one of the many institutions of higher learning in Colorado.
- Find a searchable list of approved programs at .
- Once completed, be sure to obtain a completed program verification form from and have an administrator from the preparation program fill it out.
Demonstrate your expertise in a given subject area.A teacher who wishes to teach a certain subject must show an appropriate level of knowledge about that subject. This can be done in one of two ways:
- You can submit transcript records showing you completed at least twenty four credit hours of study in the given subject.
- Take a state examination in the subject area. Colorado has approved a number of tests for the testing of subject matter knowledge, including PLACE, Praxis, and NES. See which ones are approved for which subjects at
Completing the Application Process
Submit your fingerprints to the CBI.A criminal background check will be conducted on all applicants for an Initial Teacher’s License. In order for the background check to be completed, you must submit a copy of your fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The process for doing so is simple, but very specific.
- First, create an online account with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) at
- Next, you will need to get your fingerprints taken by a law enforcement agency, like a constable, marshal, sheriff, or police department. Your fingerprints must be stamped on an official Applicant Fingerprint Card. Most law enforcement agencies will provide you with the Applicant Fingerprint Card (#FD-258), but if yours won’t, you can get one on Amazon. Fill the top portion of the card out completely and take the card to a law enforcement agency to add your fingerprint.
- Mail the completed card and your .50 application fee to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, 690 Kipling St., Suite 3000, Lakewood, CO 80215. The CBI only accepts money orders, cashier’s checks, and credit card authorizations, which can be printed out at .
- It can take up to eight weeks for the results to come back, and you will be notified via your online account.
Request copies of your official college transcripts.In order to apply for a teacher's license in Colorado, you will need to submit the official copies of your college transcripts for all colleges you attended along with your application. Official transcripts usually come through the mail, so you’ll need to request these before you actually fill out the application.
- Once you receive your transcripts, you will need to scan them, save them as a PDF, and upload them during the application process. Do not mail them.
Scan your completed test results and program verification form.Take a high quality scan of your program verification form and your test results (if you had to take a test). Save them as a PDF and upload them along with your application.
Collect employment records going back five years.You will need to submit your employment record for the past five years. You will be required to submit the name and address of the employer, the dates of employment, the reason you left, and the names of your supervisor.
- If you have prior teaching experience, even if it is longer than five years ago, submit that information as well.
Log in to your account and complete the application.Simply go to the login page at , log in, and then select the application for “teacher.”
Landing Your First Job
Create a portfolio.Once you’re licensed, you need to create a portfolio highlighting your biggest strengths. Your portfolio shows you’re serious and professional. Pay attention to detail when you create it, because it will make a lasting impression. Include things like:
- Letters of recommendation from professors, teachers you've interned with, and other education professionals.
- Sample lesson plans in your subject area.
- Test scores from your licensing exams.
- An updated resume.
- A statement of your teaching philosophy, taking note of your approach and theoretical background.
Pursue more than one certification.Establishing your qualifications in more than one subject area makes you eligible for more job openings, plain and simple.
- It makes sense to pursue certifications in subject areas which are similar to your primary area of expertise. For instance, if your main subject area is math, get another certification in science. If your primary subject of expertise is English, pursue another certification in drama or social studies.
Try substitute teaching.Although you won’t make very much money at it, substitute teaching is a good way to make professional connections with other educators while you’re looking for permanent employment.
Search aggressively.If you’re not having much luck looking at the same online classified listings, get creative. Look at state government and school district websites to see any positions advertised there, look at school websites (especially private schools), and cast a wide net geographically.
Complete the interview.Like you would with any job, you'll need to complete an interview in order to get hired. In addition to dressing smartly and showing up on time, keep these tips in mind:
- Research the school and its history. A new institution will have a vision for the future and an older institution will have years of traditions to be proud of. Do your best to make yourself familiar with them.
- Think of questions you have for the interviewer.
- A lot of your selling points will be encapsulated in your portfolio. Nonetheless, make sure you practice them enough to succinctly summarize them in an interview situation.
Video: How Do I Get A Teaching License In Colorado?
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