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Alternative Teacher Candidate FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

(Click Here for General Information)

1. Could I become an alternative teacher candidate?

If you have always wanted to be a teacher and have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, you may be ready to become an alternative teacher candidate!  Alternative teacher candidates include:

  • Recent undergraduates who have never enrolled in or who did not complete a teacher preparation program;
  • Early career changes who have graduated from college, worked for a few years, and realize that they always wanted to become teachers;
  • Mid-career changes who are looking for a pathway to make a difference in the lives of kids by becoming teachers;
  • Community members who have college degrees and life experiences, and want to impact the lives of their community’s children;
  • Paraprofessionals who have completed their Bachelor’s degrees and are seeking a pathway to licensure;
  • Retired military members who would like to “serve again” by becoming teachers;

Alternative teacher candidates range in age from 22 to 82 and come from all walks of life.  What they have in common: the drive to make a difference in the lives of kids by becoming teachers.

2. How long will it take to complete an alternative teacher licensing program?

Designated Agencies offer 1-year and 2-year programs. Individuals enrolled in an alternative program in special education may also take up to 3-years to complete.

3. What if I don't complete the program within the specified timeframe? Can it be extended?

If you are enrolled in a 1-year alternative teacher program in need of the extension, ONLY the designated agency can submit the request to CDE for the extension. Extensions may be granted only in cases of extenuating medical and/or emergency circumstances.  Extensions may be granted for only one (1) additional year. If you are in a 2-year or 3-year alternative teacher program, the license cannot be renewed.

4. What is a Designated Agency?

Designated Agencies include school districts, charter or private schools, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, or a combination of these groups that have been approved by the state to offer an alternative teacher preparation program.

5. What is the salary/compensation for Alternative Teachers?

Your compensation will be dependent upon district in which you teach or the partnership between the designated agency and district/school.

6. What is the typical fee for these programs?

The fee will vary depending on the Designated Agency. CDE does not set or keep program fee information. Information about program costs may be obtained from the Designated Agency.

7. What is a Statement of Eligibility?

In the past, the SOE was issued and used to indicate that you meet the requirements to enter an alternative preparation program. It was never a license. However, the evaluation of those requirements is now included in the larger whole of the alternative license application.

An SOE may be sent to you electronically when you complete the alternative licensure application. This would happen if you meet professional competency requirements but do not yet have employment agreements in place

8. Is there assistance to pay for the program?

The programs are usually funded by the candidates, but check with the program to determine the fee structure and available resources.

9. Do these programs include placement?

Some programs include placement and some require you to secure your own placement. Check with your program first.

10. Can I qualify for in more than one endorsement area through an Alternative License?

While you may be qualified in more than one area (e.g. math and science or English and social studies) you can only pursue alternative licensure in ONE endorsement area. This area must match the employment agreement for 51% of the agreement time.

11. What if a school district wants to hire me, but does not have the funding for a full-time person? Can I participate in a program if I am only teaching part-time?

No. Per Colorado Law, these programs require full-time employment as an alternative teacher.

12. What if I have a degree, such as in psychology, which does not match the listed endorsement areas?

CDE is unable to issue endorsements in content areas not listed below. Please apply to the program and select an endorsement on the list. If you are deficient in any coursework or testing, CDE will notify you via email. Please note that ESL and Bilingual Elementary are endorsements that Colorado does not offer or recognize and are not offered through an alternative teacher route.

The endorsement areas that can be earned through the Alternative Programs are:

Early Childhood Education (Ages: Birth-8)

Elementary Education (Grades: K-6)

Special Education Generalist (Ages: 5-21)

K-12 Endorsements:




Foreign/World Languages


Instructional Technology


Physical Education

Secondary Endorsements (grades 7-12):

Agriculture & Renewable Natural Resources

Business Education



Family and Consumer Studies




Social Studies


Technology Education (Industrial Arts)

13. When I submit my application, may I include supplemental materials to verify competencies?

No. If additional information or documentation is required, CDE will notify you via email. Please refer to question 15 for transcript submission requirements.

14. Do I need to send or include transcripts from each college or university attended?

Yes. Colorado requires official transcripts from all colleges and/or universities that you have attended. If you do not include all transcripts, your evaluation will be delayed.

15. What is the difference between the PLACE exam and the PRAXIS II Exam?

Both are content area assessment tests. PLACE was designed and developed for Colorado and PRAXIS II is a nationwide test. Colorado accepts PRAXIS II in five content areas: Elementary Education, English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Please check that the test number is approved by Colorado. Please see link for accepted PLACE PRAXIS II exams.

16. Can I go through the Alternative Program in more than one content area?

No. You will spend the first year focusing on how to deliver your knowledge of a specific area to students and need to focus on learning the pedagogy for that content area.

17. Can I become a licensed Special Education teacher through an alternative pathway?

Yes, Special Education is an allowable endorsement through alternative teacher prep programs. There is a subset of Designated Agencies authorized to offer special education preparation.

 In order to qualify, you need to pass the elementary exam, a background check, and have a degree from a regionally accredited institution.  With a full-time job in a district as well as a designated agency that offers preparation, the teacher obtains an alternative license in special education.  This enables the teacher to step into a special education classroom (with the license) and be the teacher of record immediately serving students (with all of the responsibilities of a special education teacher). 

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