You are here

Alternative Teacher Candidates: What You Need to Know

The alternative teacher pathway allows districts to hire candidates with specific content knowledge* and who hold an undergraduate or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education to teach while completing the necessary teacher training 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.

Please note: Alternative licenses are issued in one content area only. Only once alternative preparation has been completed and the individual has advanced from an alternative to an initial license may other endorsements be added.

*Coming July 1, 2022: Individuals who have not yet demonstrated content competency, but who meet all other requirements for alternative licensure, may qualify for an interim authorization! Visit this webpage for more information.

Find a 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: 

  • 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.


1. Complete Degree 

Icon with a mortar board image

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

2. Background Check

Icon with a magnifying glass image

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 CDE's receipt of your background check 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 and Demonstrate Competence 

Icon with a briefcase image

Determine the content area you are qualified to teach:

Coming July 1, 2022!

Individuals who have not demonstrated content competency may qualify to participate in an alternative teacher preparation program under an interim authorization. A new application is being developed and will be available on July 1, 2022!

4. Obtain Position and Find Program

Icon with a teacher image


  • 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: 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.)


Icon with a computer image

Once you have completed at least steps 1, 2 and 3 above:

  • Applications submitted 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.