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Alternative Teacher Candidates: What You Need to Know

Alternative Teacher Pathway - Requirements

The alternative teacher pathway allows districts to hire individuals to serve as a teacher while completing the necessary teacher preparation based on the Colorado Teacher Quality Standards. Alternative teacher preparation programs vary in length from 1 year to 2 years (though special education generalist candidates may take a third year, if necessary). While serving as a teacher, alternative candidates put what they learn into practice immediately.

To qualify, each candidate must:

  • Hold a bachelor's or higher degree from a regionally accredited college/university;
  • Be enrolled in an approved Colorado alternative teacher program; and
  • Complete and submit an ALTERNATIVE TEACHER application to request either a Colorado Alternative Teacher License or an Interim Authorization issued specifically for alternative teacher preparation.

So, For Which Credential Should I Apply ?

The new alternative teacher application offers two options:

1. Alternative Teacher License: for those applicants who also demonstrate content knowledge for the subject area they will be teaching via:

  • degree in the content area;
  • 24 semester hours of specific coursework in the content area (as verified on an official transcript); or
  • a passing score on the Colorado State Board of Education-approved PRAXIS exam.
    • Individuals wishing to apply to determine if they meet content knowledge requirements may do so prior to enrolling in a program or securing a teaching position.

2. Interim Authorization: for those who have not yet demonstrated content knowledge in their subject area.

  • Applicants pursuing an alternative interim authorization must hold a teaching position and be enrolled in an approved Colorado alternative program.
  • Demonstration of content knowledge as outlined above will be required to complete the program.

Important Notes:

  • Alternative licenses and alternative interim authorizations are issued in one content area only.
  • Alternative licenses are issued based on the length of program.
  • Interim authorizations are issued for one year only (and may be renewed if needed to complete a two-year program).

Using This Page

This page lists the steps you'll take to obtain an alternative educator license in Colorado. It also includes links to resources that help you complete each step. Resources will open in a new window or tab, depending on your browser settings.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the expectations and timelines detailed below, as the alternative licensure process is quite different from what is required for other types of credentials. Most notably: 

Alternative teacher license candidates:

  • You must complete, at minimum, steps 1, 2 and 3 as listed below before you submit your application to begin the alternative pathway. It is not necessary to fully meet the other requirements for an alternative license in order to apply.
  • Once you have obtained a teaching position and enrolled in a Colorado alternative program, you may upload documents required for step 4 to your application within 60 days of the date of notification of qualification.

Interim authorization candidates:

  • You must complete steps 1 - 4 as listed below before you submit your application to begin the alternative pathway.

1. Complete Degree 

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Complete a four-year bachelor's degree at a regionally accredited college or university

2. Background Check

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Pass CBI and FBI criminal history background checks

  • As part of the background check, you must submit your fingerprints to CBI. (CBI will work directly with the FBI to obtain a national criminal history report.)
  • You must submit fingerprints prior to applying; however, be sure to submit an application within 30 days of having your fingerprints taken to avoid having to submit another set. (CDE only may retain a background check for 30 days in the absence of a qualifying application.)

3. Choose Endorsement Area  

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Determine the content area you are qualified to teach:

  • Those seeking an interim authorization will have to fulfill content knowledge requirements (as outlined immediately above) during their participation in the alternative program.

4. Obtain Position and Find Program

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  • A classroom teaching position that matches the endorsement area you selected in step 3
  • An agreement with a state-approved designated agency that offers an approved alternative teacher preparation program
  • A statement of assurance (SOA) completed and signed by you, your district/employer and your designated agency

Note to Alternative teacher license candidates only: Even if you have not yet completed this step, you can still submit an application to get started on the alternative pathway. (Please see the Apply section below for details.)


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Once you have completed the steps required for the credential you seek:

  • View the checklist for alternative teacher candidates
  • Complete and submit an ALTERNATIVE TEACHER application via the COOL system (via link at the bottom of the checklist)
  • Applications submitted for alternative teacher licenses prior to a candidate's employment and program enrollment (step 4) will be evaluated to ensure content requirements for the selected endorsement area (steps 1, 2 and 3) are met. 
    • You will be notified via email upon determination of qualification.
    • You will have 60 days to complete step 4 (instructions will be provided in the notification) and obtain an alternative teacher license.


Select the "alternative teacher" application from the list on the application dashboard; do not select the button in the "teacher" box -- contrary to what it indicates, you will be led to the wrong application. We are working on getting that corrected!




For questions, submit a Licensing Support Request form or call 720-739-3304 (7:30 am to 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday).