Teaching Programs in Colorado
With economic growth that is outpacing the nation, the state of Colorado is facing an acute teacher shortage, resulting in about 5,000 educator positions opening each year. To develop a strong pipeline of qualified teachers, the state’s education leaders have begun several initiatives, from funding teacher-education programs to developing alternative paths to licensure.
On this page, you’ll learn information about teaching programs in Colorado, career growth and salary, and how to become a teacher once you’ve earned your degree.
How Can I Get a Teaching Degree in Colorado?
There are two primary pathways for earning your teaching certification in Colorado: You can follow the traditional route, which is to enroll in a college or university in an undergraduate teacher certification program, or you can use your existing bachelor’s or graduate degree in another subject to qualify for alternative licensure while completing a teacher certification program.
If you are interested in teaching a vocational subject or are moving in from another state, there are licensing options for you as well.
Traditional Pathway to Becoming a Teacher in Colorado
If you’re in school for an undergraduate degree, the traditional pathway toward teaching licensure may be right for you. On this path, there are four necessary steps to licensure:
- Earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in education.
- Complete one of the regionally accredited college teacher-preparation programs in Colorado.
- Pass background checks by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
- Apply for your initial educator license through the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE’s) online system, eLicensing.
Becoming a Teacher Through Alternative Certification or as a Career Switcher
Perhaps you’ve decided you want to teach, but you’ve already gotten a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education. In this case, you may find the alternative teacher pathway is a better fit for you. This option was designed to stem the state’s teacher shortage by creating a faster track toward licensure for teaching in specific content areas.
In order to earn an alternative certification, the following steps must be taken:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university.
- Pass your background checks.
- Determine the content area in which you’d like to teach and demonstrate competency in that subject. Content areas may be general, like elementary education, or more subject-specific, like science or music. Either way, your chosen content area will likely be related to your major studies. Colorado has a list of approved endorsement areas for alternative licensure from which to choose.
- Seek a teaching position in your endorsement area. When you land a job, secure an agreement from a state-approved alternative teacher preparation program as well as a Statement of Assurance (SOA). The SOA must be signed by you, your employer, and the agency offering your preparation program. Once the SOA is submitted, the CDE will issue you a conditional alternative teaching license, which is only valid while you’re enrolled in your approved teacher training program.
You may also apply for an alternative license before obtaining a teaching position. If you go this route, you’ll receive an online “alternative license pending employment/program” status. From that point, you’ll have one calendar year in which to obtain your position, teacher preparation, and SOA.
Career and Technical Education Teacher Certification in Colorado
The Colorado Community College System oversees career and technical education (CTE) for students in grades six through 12. According to the CCCS fact sheet (PDF download), in the 2017-18 school year, 37% of Colorado’s high school students were enrolled in at least one CTE class.
To become a CTE teacher, you first need to earn an initial CTE authorization. This is available to applicants who meet the specific educational and occupational requirements for their chosen CTE content area.
The initial CTE authorization is good for three years and is not renewable. Once you’re authorized, the CDE will assign you specific coursework that you must complete in order to earn a professional, five-year authorization. This professional credential may be renewed by completing either six semester hours or 90 contact/clock hours of related coursework.
Teachers Moving to Colorado from a Different State
If you have moved from another state, would like to teach in Colorado, and have a valid Social Security number, consult the CDE’s endorsement requirements. You can receive a Colorado teaching license in a similar fashion to the alternative licensure pathway. You may do so in one of the following two ways:
If you wish to earn an endorsement in a different content area, you need to meet all the requirements for that endorsement, just as any new teacher would.
Average Salaries and Projected Job Growth for Colorado Teachers
Demand for teachers of all grade levels in Colorado is much higher than the national average. However, teacher salaries in Colorado are slighter lower than the national mean annual wages for each grade specialty, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This chart provides salary and job-growth data for teachers in Colorado.
|Career||2018 Mean Salary||Projected Job Growth|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||$53,400||20%|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||$53,400||20%|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||$55,110||20%|
|Postsecondary Teaching*||$77,917||22%-38%, depending on content area|
*Averaged from all postsecondary salaries and job-growth figures.
Salary information from Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020). Growth from CareerOneStop (2020).
Teacher Training Programs in Colorado
Prospective teachers can prepare for licensure at a wide range of schools across the state. Not only do most schools offer in-state and out-of-state tuition options, but many also have rates for those in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Here is a sampling of some of the colleges offering teaching programs in Colorado.
Adams State University (Alamosa, CO)
Adams State, in the San Luis Valley, emphasizes writing-intensive courses, experiential and off-campus learning, and small class sizes for individualized instruction. At the bachelor’s degree level, Adams offers teacher licensure programs in elementary education, K-12 education, and secondary education. You may also earn a Master of Arts in Teacher Education with endorsements in Education Curriculum and Instruction; Education Curriculum and Instruction with Endeavor STEM Certificate; and Educational Leadership – Principal Licensure. For those with associate degrees, a degree completion program resulting in a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education is available online.
Tuition and fees are as follows:
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, CO)
The Center for Teacher Education at CMU has established relationships with school districts across the 14-county western slope area of Colorado. CMU offers a range of teaching degrees and programs, including four undergraduate teacher education degrees that lead to licensure, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Education in four subject areas, and a one-year intensive Initial Teacher Licensure (ITL) graduate certificate program for students with bachelor’s degrees. The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, Elementary Education Licensure program at CMU is available online, with emphases in English or social science.
Tuition and fees are as follows:
Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)
CSU places a strong emphasis on experiential learning, and students in the school’s education programs will complete field experiences each semester in preschool through grade 12 settings. The school offers undergraduate teacher licensure in 17 content areas, including early education, but it does not provide a teaching endorsement for general elementary education. It also offers a one-year Master of Education (M.Ed.) in education and human resources studies.
If you want to study education online at CSU, you can earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration on early childhood professions. Additionally, four graduate certificates, eight master’s programs in education, and a doctoral degree in higher education leadership are available online.
Full-time tuition and fees are as follows:
University of Northern Colorado (Greeley, CO)
UNC’s School of Teacher Education has been preparing educators since 1889. As of 2020, 54% of Colorado educators studied at UNC and more than a quarter of Colorado Department of Education Teachers of the Year went to the institution. In its School of Teacher Education, the university offers four undergraduate, 11 graduate, and nine licensure and graduate certificates.
Online programs are available only for certain graduate degrees, including curriculum studies, special education, and educational leadership, as well as in licensure and certificate programs in subjects such as American Sign Language, autism, Chinese teaching, teacher leadership, or culturally and linguistically diverse education.
Tuition and fees are as follows:
Colorado Teacher Resources
Colorado Department of Education Licensing Office: Find extensive information about how to earn licensure in the state, including applications, endorsement requirements, fingerprint information, and more.
Colorado State Board of Education: This site provides information about school regulations and procedures, professional development opportunities, and a page containing the latest jobs available for Colorado teachers, among other resources.
Praxis Colorado: Find out about completing the Praxis exam to become an educator in Colorado.
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE): Learn about the WUE, including how being a resident of a WUE state can affect your ability to enroll in teaching programs in Colorado.