The information below offers guidelines for progressing through major educational steps, as you move toward becoming a certified teacher in Colorado.
If You Have a High School Diploma or a GED
Students must earn either a high school diploma or a GED certificate in order to enroll in a Bachelor’s degree program. High school students who are interested in an education career should participate in groups such as the Future Teachers/Educators of America. The University of Colorado offers a yearly Future Teacher Expo for High School Students, where aspiring teachers can interact with representatives from Teacher Education programs and learn about educational and teaching opportunities in the state. These steps are the beginning of your journey toward becoming a teacher.
Learn about accredited schools that offer Bachelor’s degrees focusing on education, child development, specific academic content areas or student populations.
Aspiring teachers can enroll at a community college and earn an Associate degree. Some two-year colleges offer programs that lead to certification in the field of Early Childhood Education.
Decide what grade level and subject area you are interested in teaching.
Contact colleges that fit your needs, and request information to help you make a decision about what school to attend and what degree program to pursue.
If You Have Completed Some College or Earned an Associate’s Degree
The Colorado Commission on Higher Education has instituted a statewide transfer program that encourages students attending or graduating from community colleges to apply and transfer to accredited four-year colleges and universities. Community colleges and other accredited two-year post-secondary programs offer courses, degrees and certificates that serve as important steps toward reaching your goal of becoming a teacher. Talk to advisors at your school and the four-year college you hope to attend.
The numbers of credits or courses that are transferable from a two-year to a four-year college depend on which courses you take or what degree you earn during a two-year program. Even if you do not choose to get a degree at a two-year college, the classes you complete may provide necessary prerequisites for courses in a four-year program. Community college credits that are transferable to public and independent four-year colleges are stepping stones toward a Bachelor’s degree that may lead to a licensure in Colorado.
Investigate various state-approved Bachelor’s degree programs to find out which ones will accept transfer credits from the college you attended or are attending. Contact the schools that interest you to
Colorado community colleges and other two-year colleges offer numerous courses that are essential to earning an Associate degree. An Associate degree that includes general studies and education-related classes may qualify you to enter a four-year college as a junior. Completing your undergraduate studies with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, along with other requirements, may qualify you to apply for a Colorado state teaching license.
Some aspiring teachers, who have earned Associate degrees or credentials in Early Childhood Education, choose to seek employment directly after graduating from a two-year or community college. An Early Childhood Education certificate may qualify you to begin working with infants, toddlers, and pre-school children. You can begin working as a teaching assistant, a para-educator, or a teacher in early child education programs, such childcare centers, preschools or Head Start classrooms.
If You Have a Bachelor’s Degree
Becoming a licensed educator in Colorado, requires that you earn a Bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution. Some Colorado Bachelor’s degree programs allow students to complete courses for their bachelor's degree and to fulfill teacher preparation requirements in four years. If your goal is to teach in Colorado and you already have a Bachelor’s degree, the next steps toward teacher certification will often depend on your undergraduate major.
If you have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts with an Education Licensing focus, including an accredited Teacher Preparation Program, you have already fulfilled essential academic and teacher preparation requirements. Student teaching is an important aspect of any Bachelor’s in Education program, and successful completion of all degree and teacher preparation requirements, including student teaching, will qualify you to apply for a teaching certificate or license.
Prospective teachers must pass mandatory exams before applying for teacher certification in the state of Colorado. You can choose between two different tests that assess content, knowledge and skills. The PLACE (Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators) measures the level of knowledge and skills judged important for educators in Colorado schools. The Praxis II Subject Assessment exam is a national test that measures knowledge of specific subjects that K-12 educators teach.
Receiving a Bachelor’s degree with a major in liberal studies can be an important step toward certification as an Elementary level teacher. Some certification programs recommend the Liberal Arts major, because it prepares educators to teach in the many different subject areas taught in Elementary school classrooms.
If you earned a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in a specific subject, you may have already satisfied many academic requirements recommended by credential programs. Majoring in a specific subject taught at the secondary school level prepares individuals to become endorsed or qualified to teach high school and middle school classes in that content area.
Students interested in teaching will earn their degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The state of Colorado does not offer any undergraduate major in Education. Once your academic degree program is completed and you have earned a Bachelor’s degree, the next step is to enroll in a Teacher Preparation Program at an accredited institution. Some of preparation programs for teachers are Post-Baccalaureate stand-alone programs, some are offered at the university where you received your Bachelor’s degree, and some are combined with Master’s in Education degree programs.
After all academic coursework, educational assessments and fieldwork requirements are fulfilled, you are eligible to apply for an Initial professional license to teach in the state of Colorado.
If You Have a Master’s Degree or Are in a Master’s Degree Program
Master’s degrees in Education offer an academic course of study into which the requisite Teacher Preparation curricula may or may not be integrated. Some, but not all, Master of Education degrees provide the option of satisfying course requirements in conjunction with fieldwork and other teacher preparation requirements. To find out which education graduate programs offer this opportunity, consult with your advisor and contact the universities that interest you. Once you earn a Master’s degree and complete the Teacher Preparation requirements—either within or outside of your graduate program--you will be qualified to move forward toward a Colorado teacher’s license.
Accredited universities with graduate programs in education offer a range of Master’s degrees that can lead you to a teaching license. The criteria for admission into a College of Education graduate program include: a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university; transcripts for all coursework; a minimum grade point average; and a passing GRE score. Most graduate schools require students to satisfy both the admission requirements of the Graduate school and the prerequisites of the specific Education program. You can earn a Master’s degree with a focus on Elementary Education or Secondary Education.
When you are ready to begin your teaching career, you must demonstrate that you have successfully completed all requirements for certification or licensure. These requirements include finishing required academic coursework, completing an approved Teacher Preparation Program, passing mandated tests, and fulfilling student teaching hours. The next step is to apply for your Initial Educator License and to begin searching for a job in the education field. Contact the Colorado Department of Education to request information and an application.
Some people who have earned a Master’s degree in Education may decide to continue their education and pursue a doctorate degree. Colorado offers Doctoral Programs in University Departments or Colleges of Education. Talk to your graduate advisor and gather information to determine which will be the best school and program for you.