Ways To Get Various Elementary, Middle, and Secondary School Teacher’s Licenses In Colorado

As with most states, the qualifications to become a teacher in Colorado are needlessly complicated. But the good news for some is that Colorado does not even require a degree for many teacher endorsements. You can pass a subject exam to qualify for a teacher’s license in some cases. Of course, it is always good to have a degree for employment purposes even if it’s not required for your desired teacher endorsement.

Note on Exams:

I am writing this in July of 2016. As of September 2016, Colorado teacher license candidates can take the Praxis exams for endorsement purposes. They can still take the PLACE exams, but only until May 6, 2017. Applications based on PLACE exams will only be accepted until May 6, 2022. After that, a Praxis exam will be required unless Colorado changes this rule by that time.

I will now list the subjects for which a passing score exam is sufficient for licensing. A degree or approved program is also acceptable. Passing scores differ by test.

Grades 7-12:

Agriculture and Natural Resources Education
English Language Arts
Family and Consumer Sciences
Social Studies
Technology Education

Grades K-12:

Drama Theater Arts
Instructional Technology
Physical Education
Visual Arts
World Languages (this category includes Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, American Sign Language, Italian, Latin, and Russian)

Ages 0 to 8:

Early Childhood Education


Other kinds of teacher certification have different and often more complicated requirements in Colorado. Some are endorsements that can only be added to an existing license.

Those where no exam exists include Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education K-12, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Bilingual Education Specialist K-12, Dance K-12, and Trade and Industry Grades 7-12. Generally, these require an approved program or 24 credit hours of relevant education. The 2 “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse” endorsements cannot be stand-alone licenses. They can only be added to an existing license.

For Elementary Education K-6, you will need to complete a degree, approved program, and exam for an initial license.

Gifted Education Core Ages PreK-12 requires completion of a graduate program and exam, and it is not a stand-alone license. Gifted Education Specialist Ages PreK-12 is about the same. But you must complete a master’s degree in Gifted Education.

Instructional Technology Specialist K-12 (also not a stand-alone option) requires 3 years of licensed teaching experience and completion of an approved program.

Both Reading Teacher K-12 and Reading Specialist K-12 require a graduate program. 2 years of experience is necessary for the Reading Teacher added endorsement, and it’s 3 years for Reading Specialist. The “Reading” endorsements cannot be stand-alone licenses.

Teacher Librarian K-12 requires an approved program in library science or a similar subject. The internship must include training in both elementary and secondary school.

There are many Special Education endorsements that have their own specific qualifications. Early Childhood Special Education Ages 0-8 requires an approved program, while Early Childhood Special Education Specialist Ages 0-8 requires the program to be at the graduate level.

Special Education Generalist Ages 5-21 is a tough one to get, and it’s also a prerequisite for Special Education Specialist Ages 5-21. The Generalist license requires you to pass both Elementary Education and Special Education Generalist. You must also complete a program, degree, or 24 related credit hours. The Specialist category also requires an approved program specifically for specialists plus at least a master’s degree in special education.

There is also an endorsement for Special Education Specialist: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ages Birth-21. This requires an approved program in this field plus a relevant master’s degree. The same rules apply for Special Education Specialist: Visually Impaired Ages Birth-21.

If you have met the requirements for any of these teacher licenses, then you can apply online at the Colorado Department of Education website. The typical application fee is $90.


After a certain amount of experience, you can upgrade to a professional or master Colorado teaching license. The above requirements refer to an initial license.

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