How to Become a Preschool Teacher in Colorado

An ECE Colorado Degree & Career Guide

Your Early Childhood Teacher Requirements and Career Guide

The Colorado Board of Education approved a resolution that supports a plan to offer full-day kindergarten in the state of Colorado. This policy decision fits with a long line of Board policy reviews to improve participation in early childhood education across the state. The proposal for full-day kindergarten would give parents the choice of a full-day, no-cost education and childcare program.

The Colorado government issued a report to the legislature on its preschool program. The annual survey called the Colorado Preschool Program Legislative Report 2019 includes a study of the overall impact of early education in Colorado. The findings support the conclusion that students who participated in Colorado preschool and early education programs had much higher success rates than similarly situated children who did not participate. This report summarized thirty years of progress and demonstrated the effectiveness and social benefits of early childhood education on individual students, student families, and the communities in which student’s live and grow.

Becoming an Early Childhood Educator in Colorado

The best way to become an ECE teacher in Colorado is to complete a bachelor’s degree in early childhood or a related subject. You may also need endorsements, which have specific requirements that must be met if you want to be considered competent in those areas.

Colorado has a three-tiered teacher licensure process. The first level of licensure is the Initial Teacher License that must be renewed unless the teacher can complete the requirements for a professional license. The third level is an honorary level of the master teacher. The master teacher certification reflects and honors outstanding contributions to the teaching profession in Colorado. Colorado was among the few states that do not require basic skills a test. The regulations do require competency testing in the specific grade and subject areas to be taught.

Testing is one of the available pathways to establish licensure by proving competency to support endorsements.

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

Colorado will accept a bachelor’s degree earned from a regionally accredited school, college, or university. Acceptable accreditation includes the CHEA and Department of Education appointed regional accreditors such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. You’ll also need to have completed an approved teacher preparation program. Most programs that culminate in a degree include the teacher preparation program, but you will want to be certain any school you are considering includes that program, as you cannot be licensed without it.

Step 2. Pass Your Exams (Gain Endorsements)

Colorado requires a passing score on the PRAXIS elementary education content exam for elementary education teachers. The PRAXIS content exams replaced the previous PLACE exams as of 2017, though if you took the PLACE exam as late as 2016, you’re test scores will be accepted until 2022. If you are looking to receive the school social worker endorsement, you’ll need to complete the ASWB clinical or the Advanced Generalist exam instead.

Your passing exams scores will gain you grade-level endorsements, allowing you to teach any student that falls within the realm of your endorsement.

Endorsements include:

  • K-6: Elementary Education
  • K-12: Health, Drama Theater Arts, Instructional Technology, Music, Physical Education, Visual Arts, World Languages, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Bilingual Education, Dance, Reading Teacher and Specialist, Teacher Librarian
  • PreK-12: Gifted Education, Gifted Education Specialist
  • Ages 0-8: Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education and Specialist
  • Ages 5-21: Special Education Specialist and Generalist
  • Ages 0-21: Special Education Specialist: Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Special Education Specialist: Visually Impaired

Step 3. Standards and Qualifications

Colorado follows the NAEYC standards for birth through age eight education. This consists of formal education, classroom, and other teaching experience, demonstrated competences, continuing education, and professional development. In 2016, Colorado adopted PRAXIS content testing and has integrated these tests into the system to certify endorsements and license teachers. Colorado honors reciprocity agreements with other states, though out-of-state teachers must have degrees from accredited schools and at least some years of teaching experience under their out-of-state license.

Potential Credentials, Requirements, and Certifications Needed in Colorado

Colorado teachers should have endorsements in their academic records for the subject areas they intend to teach. Teachers can also establish subject matter qualification through PRAXIS testing in the disciplines that wish to teach.

  • Initial Educator License
    The first level of licensure in Colorado is the Initial Educator license. Applicants must prove completion of an approved teacher preparation program. The initial license is renewable and is valid for five years. License holders must meet the continuing education and training requirements for renewal. They must perform 150 clock hours of approved coursework and projects. Initial license holders must complete an approved induction program to move to the next level of licensure called the professional educator license.

  • Professional Educator License
    During the valid period of the initial license, teachers may work through their school district or other hiring authority. The induction program includes periods of mentoring from a master teacher and professional development steps. The induction includes peer and teacher evaluation, performance evaluation, and assessments.

  • Master Teacher Certificate
    The master teacher certification represents a level of achievement in Colorado education. A very small number, about 300 of about 40,000 teachers have the ‘master’ designation. Historically, the state has issued less than 2,000 master certificates. The master designation certifies a teacher that has demonstrated outstanding teacher performance and made recognized achievements in education.

  • Alternative Educator License
    Colorado welcomes degree holders at the bachelor’s, master’s, and higher levels. Applicants must complete teacher preparation or an equivalent to demonstrate competence. While completing the program requirements, Candidates may teach full-time with supervision and technical support.

Colorado has shifted its application process to permit all-electronic and online filing for the various types of licensing and alternative licensing. To apply, applicants create e- Licensing accounts with the Colorado Department of Education. This system accepts scanned documents for direct electronic submission including the application, transcripts, and assessments.

Accreditation

Accreditation is important to teaching students and applicants for teaching licenses. Accreditation is an objective standard that measures the components and overall quality of educational services at institutions of higher learning. By applying a consistent set of standards, accreditors provide a measuring rod for all schools in a given part of the United States. Because the accrediting agencies have oversight from DOE and CHEA, there is consistency among the regional accrediting agencies.

Colorado teacher licensure requires completion of a course of study that includes at least 24 credit hours of early childhood education coursework at an accredited institution. The state only accepts accreditation from the Department of Education and CHEA approved regional accreditors. The state accepts degrees from schools accredited by the below-listed accrediting associations.

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education
  • Higher Learning Commission (formerly the NCA-HLC)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Preparation Programs

  • University of Northern Colorado

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Master’s & Dr.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Educational Leadership & Administration; Master’s & Dr.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s, Master’s, & Dr.
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s, Master’s, & Dr.

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
  • Regis University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bilingual and Multi-lingual Education; Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Autism; Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master’s & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • TESOL/ESL Language Instructor; Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
  • Adams State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching; Master’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Master’s

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
  • University of Colorado Boulder

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education; Master’s & Dr.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • Commission on English Language Program Accreditation for English Language instruction

Specialization Additional Certifications

Colorado schools offer endorsements in specializations with their degrees in early childhood education and elementary education. These endorsements and specializations can include special education and further specialties in working with children with autism, hearing, and visual disabilities.

For example, Colorado State University offers an alternative pathway to teacher certification for bachelor degree holders. Students can get a Master of Education and Human Resource Studies, specializing in education, equity, and transformation and qualify for a teaching license.

Colorado Preschool Teacher Careers Options

Public schools in Colorado hire thousands of teachers. The state requires a teaching license based on completion of a teacher preparation curriculum at a regionally accredited school, college, or university. The state has three types of license, and they accept alternative licensing for out of state applicants.

Private childcare is an important type of employment for early childhood educators. Private employers do not have to restrict hiring to bachelor degree holders from regionally accredited schools, but many choose to hire licensed Colorado teachers.

Private schools must draw from the same talent pool as public-school employers. They must offer equally high-quality education to attract students and their families. Many private schools offer unique programs to add depth to their educational programs that public schools may not offer. The advantages of private schools often stem from the quality of their faculty and available resources. Private schools hire significant numbers of licensed Colorado teachers and specialists.

Head Start programs are a significant employer of teachers that work with income-challenged families. Nowhere is the impact of early education felt more than in its impact on lower income families. Early childhood education can help reduce the limitations on income and mobility by providing a solid, early-learning foundation. The Colorado Head Start Association is an active participant in early childhood education in Colorado.

Community-based programs hire licensed Colorado teachers to plan and carry out their programs for early childhood education. Community-based organizations have unique and essential connections to their communities and are often in the ideal position to attract young learners and their families.

Faith-based programs require teachers with high levels of skills and knowledge to work with early learners. Colorado has school choice options for parents that include faith-based, private, and charter types of schools. They need experienced and talented ECE educators in the many learning and childcare environments sponsored by faith-based organizations.

Military programs offer childcare and early education to children of military families. The military strives to provide safe, nurturing, and educationally advantageous environments for the children of armed forces personnel living in or near military installations. The clear trend favors hiring early childhood educators with bachelor’s and master’s degrees to teach in and administer these facilities.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Colorado

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$25,000$31,000$44,000
Elementary School Teacher$34,000$44,000$60,000
Professor of Education$60,200$70,400$99,100
Special Education Teacher$34,800$49,000$58,100
School Psychologist$54,200$61,000$73,300

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • Early Childhood Educator is a Rewarding Career

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-WquPXglak

  • A Day in the Life - Preschool Teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOuvns_664c

  • EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS: BUILDING BRAINS TOGETHER

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0pXe5pF5OA

  • Early Childhood Education (ECE) - Durham College

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhu8Ykf4LtI

  • Early childhood special education, for future teachers

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJRebt7-3b4

  • Teach Special Education

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XsaK3pWyII

Find Preschool Teacher and Early Childhood Education Jobs in Colorado

Colorado Promotes Early Childhood Education

Colorado needs early childhood educators to meet the growing demand for early childhood education. The population growth trend in Colorado has tapered in recent years; the rate is slow and steady. The demand for early education comes from the realization that early education is critical to the lives of our children and a predictor of later success in learning and contributions to the community. The state has opened doors to increase participation.

Read More

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