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Special Education Teacher Certification in Colorado

A few basic qualifications are required to become a special education teacher in Colorado. Check out the article below for more information on education requirements, licensing procedures, and salary overview for this position.

Overview of Teaching Special Education in Colorado

A Colorado special education teacher certification requires completion of the necessary college courses and approval and licensure through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Requiring a communicative teaching style and involved daily interaction with students, parents, and other school faculty, special education teachers provide critical educational and emotional support for their students.

Education/Experience Required* Bachelor's degree or higher
Student teaching experience
Completion of state-approved program for special education generalists (or)
Completion of 24 semester hours condoned by CDE
Exams Required* Elementary Education Exam: PLACE 20 (or) Praxis #5354
Special Education Generalist Exam: PLACE 01 (or) Praxis 5001
Initial Licensing* Application
$90 fee
Official transcripts
Professional License* Application
$90 fee
Certificate of completion of state approved induction program to transition to a professional license
5-year employment history
Average Salary (2018)** $56,830 (preschool)
$54,500 (kindergarten and elementary school)
$54,920 (middle school)
$55,780 (high school)
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026)** 8% nationally

Sources: *Colorado Department of Education (CDE) **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Description

Special education teachers play the crucial role of helping oversee and teach students with developmental disadvantages. Responsible for helping students develop cognitive, physical, and emotional faculties, special education teachers are deeply involved in their pupils' lives. Due to the developmental disadvantages that many students placed in special education programs face, the position of special education teacher requires highly evolved communication skills.

Education Requirements

To become a special education teacher in the state of Colorado you will need to have attained a bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited university. Additionally, you will need to have completed a state-approved program for special education generalists or 24 semester hours deemed acceptable by the CDE. Student teaching experience is also required.

Exam Requirements

Prospective special education teachers must pass both the Elementary Education Exam and the Special Education Generalist Exam. The Elementary Education Exam requires a PLACE 20 score of 220 or a Praxis #5354 score of 151. The Special Education Generalist Exam requires a PLACE 01 score of 220. Alternatively, you can pass the Special Education Generalist Exam with a Praxis 5001 score of 157 in math and reading, 155 in social studies, and 159 in science.

Initial Application and License

To apply to become a special education teacher in Colorado, you will need to submit an initial application to the CDE. Along with this application, you must enclose your official transcripts, the approved verification form, the $90 fee, any previous teaching history, and your passing scores for teacher testing. You will also have to submit your fingerprints for a background check and provide a valid social security number. Your initial license will stay active for a period of 3 years. If you meet the requirements for an initial license in Colorado, you may be able to apply for a professional license with the completion of an induction program condoned by the Colorado State Board of Education.

Renewal and Transition to Professional License

In Colorado, an initial license can typically be renewed only once. Initial license holders can then apply for a professional license with the completion of a state-approved induction program. However, if the initial license holder was unable to complete the required state-approved induction program, then the applicant may file for one additional initial license renewal. Completion of the induction program is the only additional requirement for transitioning from an initial license to a professional license. You will need to submit a $90 fee and a record of 5-year employment history, along with a copy of the induction certificate in order to qualify. A Colorado professional teacher license is valid for a period of 5 years, and renewal of a professional license requires the completion of an additional 6 semester hours of condoned credit from a regionally accredited university.