Become a Teacher in Colorado

Colorado Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary:$50,330
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary:$52,650
Vacation Weeks per Year:15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio:                                                                                                                                 17.53
Expenditure per Pupil:$8,693

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

201 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 866-6600

Colorado Teacher Shortage Areas

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • School Counselor
  • Speech Language Pathologists
  • Language Arts
  • Music
  • Special Education

Teacher Shortage information was provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listings for 2016–2017, and was determined by examining the most recent data about unfilled teaching positions; positions filled by teachers certified by irregular, provisional, temporary, or emergency certification; and teachers teaching in subject areas other than their area of preparation.

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Colorado

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 10/13/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Colorado, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit a Colorado teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Colorado Teaching Credential

Earning your Colorado teaching credential will require the completion of the appropriate amount of undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited certification program. Colorado offers an Initial License, valid for three years, for beginning teachers; you must complete a Teacher Induction Program to qualify for a Professional License, which must be renewed every five years. In addition to Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary certifications, Colorado has certifications for Special Education Generalist and Special Education Specialist. Learn more about getting your Colorado teaching credential through the Colorado Department of Education Office of Educator Preparation, Licensing and Enforcement.

Read more about getting your teaching credential on

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in Colorado

Every state requires at least a bachelor’s degree for teacher certification, but some have additional undergraduate credit hour restrictions. Colorado requires that the bachelor’s degree include a teacher preparation program.  For Elementary educator licensure, there are no specific coursework requirements. Special Education Generalist, Early  Childhood, K-12 and Secondary licenses require 24 credit hours of required content. A passing score on the PLACE assessments (below) can substitute for the credit hour requirement. The Special Education Specialist Initial license requires some graduate work or a full master’s degree, depending on what type of special needs students you plan to work with.

Step Two: Colorado Teacher Certification Programs

Getting a teaching certificate usually involves the completion of an accredited certification course with both pedagogical theory and classroom practice components. These courses can be completed either on-site or online. Colorado requires 800 hours of student teaching as part of the teacher preparation program.

Upgrading from an initial to a professional certification requires a teacher induction program consisting of “supervision by mentor teachers, ongoing professional development, and training, including ethics, and performance evaluations.” The Colorado Department of Education provides a list of Approved Educator Preparation Programs.

Step Three: Required Tests for Colorado

Unlike most states, Colorado does not require a basic skills test. All that is required is a Subject Area Competence test, which can be fulfilled by the PLACE (Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators) or the appropriate Praxis Subject Assessment. Colorado has approved the adoption of Praxis exams for most content areas, and Praxis will be the primary licensing exam for Colorado teachers following the administration of the final PLACE exam on May 6, 2017.

Read more about teacher certification tests.

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting the Praxis information page provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online Praxis Practice Tests and Praxis Study Guides, plus a variety of paid Praxis Test Prep options for those who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring, and on-demand online prep. 

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Featured Online Programs

Explore your career options in education:

The 8-week Teaching and Learning Strategies for Higher Education online short course is delivered by Harvard’s Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX. Students in this course will engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective teaching methods in the higher education context, while refining their own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy.

BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

Sponsored Programs

Alternative Teacher Certification in Colorado

Colorado also has an alternative certification program. These programs are open to teachers with a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university who have not completed any other certification program involving student teaching. For more information, visit the Colorado alternative licensing website.

The Troops to Teachers program offers a way for veterans to transition to teaching careers.

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Benefits of a Master's Degree in Colorado

It is no longer enough to just have years of experience in teaching. After No Child Left Behind and other academic quantification measures, the careers of teachers increasingly depend on their results in the classroom. A master's degre in the field of education can give you more educational theory and classroom skills, as well as more hands-on student teaching experience with a mentor.

After a master’s program, you may achieve better results in the classroom and have more job security and higher pay. In the Denver Public Schools system, a teacher with a master’s degree earns an average of $6,627 more per year than one without an advanced degree, according to 2015–2016 data from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on

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Certification Reciprocity in Colorado

Interstate reciprocity is a program that allows teachers certified in one state to teach in another state. To find out which other state teaching licenses can be used in Colorado, visit the reciprocity page. Or, for more specific questions about your situation, contact the Colorado Department of Education.

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Financial Aid in Colorado

Colorado residents are eligible for the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship as well as the TEACH Grant, a grant that gives financial aid to students in return for an agreement to teach in a high-need school.

Learn more about how to finance your Master's degree on

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Colorado Teacher Salary and Incentives

The average salary for an elementary school teacher in Colorado is $50,330, and for secondary school teachers is $52,650, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary schedules vary by school district. This 2016-2017 Colorado Springs salary scale shows a salary increase for every sixteen units of graduate credit, as well as every year of experience, resulting in a range of $34,750–$56,540 for just a bachelor’s, and $39,700–$70,175 for a master’s or similar amount of graduate credit.

Colorado offers loan forgiveness as an incentive to teachers working in low-income schools. Learn more about teacher salaries on

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Colorado Teacher Benefits and Retirement

Colorado maintains the Public Employee Retirement Association to assist public employees such as teachers in funding their retirement. Additionally, there are many benefits offered to Colorado teachers, such as health care, dental care, and annual leave and sick days.

Learn more about benefits for teachers.

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Professional Development for Teachers in Colorado

Colorado’s professional development program aims to improve teaching and administration, and thereby the quality of the students’ education. Every five years, a teacher is required to complete a minimum of five credit hours of development activities. To learn more about professional development in Colorado, visit the Colorado Department of Education's professional development page.

Colorado public policy strongly supports induction for teachers through mentoring and professional development. For more information about Colorado’s induction program, visit the Department of Education’s page on moving from an Initial License to a Professional License.

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Colorado Teaching Jobs

The Colorado Board of Education partners with Colorado.Teachers-Teachers to run a teaching job site where aspiring teachers can easily filter jobs by subject area and by location.

Learn more about finding a teaching job.

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Colorado Teacher Certification Information & Links

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