Teaching English in Colorado schools offers you the ability to introduce students to the vast world of written communication. Part of your job will be exposing your students to the wide range of literature available; works that range from classic literature to modern day novels. You will also teach them how to write. This skill will be highly utilized as they move through their education and into their own careers.
Students’ writing abilities have been an area of concern in Colorado lately. A recent article noted that only 50% of Colorado students wrote on grade level. As an English teacher, you will have the opportunity to help improve these numbers. If you are considering teaching English in Colorado, here are the basic steps that will help move you into your new career:
|Complete an Educational Program|
|Take the Colorado State Tests|
|Apply for Your License|
|Upgrade and Maintain Your License|
Step 1. Complete an Educational Program
Becoming an English teacher in Colorado means that you will start out with an education that will prepare you for this field. You have the option of earning a bachelor’s degree (the minimum requisite) or you can aim higher, going for a master’s or doctorate. The programs that are available will ready you in both your core subject and in teaching skills.
At the beginning of your education, most of your coursework will focus on general subjects such as science, math, and classes in the humanities. These lower-division classes are something all students have to take and give you a balanced education. As you begin to enter your upper-division work, you will start to participate in more English core classes. Finally you will begin your teaching courses that will prepare you in the following areas:
- Designing and Implementing English curriculum
- Understanding and analyzing modern theories and practices of human learning
- Learning how to teach composition and rhetoric
- Understanding linguistics
The type of program you choose will depend on how far you want to go with your own education (B.A., M.A., or PhD) and what grade level of school you want to teach. For elementary school teachers, the degree will offer courses in a variety of fields because the lower levels stay in the same class all day. This means you will teach more than English. Once students begin to reach the secondary level, this will not be the case. You will then teach specific English courses all day long. When you begin your search for programs, you want to look for those that are approved by the Colorado Department of Education.
Here are a few degree choices for you to consider:
- Bachelor of Arts with an Emphasis in English
- Master of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis in English
- Bachelor of Arts in Education
- Master of Arts in Education
Optional Alternatives for Becoming a Teacher
If you are currently a graduate holding a degree from an accredited school and have been in a career outside of education, you still have the opportunity to become a teacher without earning another full degree. Changing careers is common these days and deciding to teach later in life is no exception. If this describes you, an alternative program may be the way for you to become a teacher. The basic requirements for this program are as follows:
- Complete 24 hours in college-level English
- Pass the Colorado State Board exams (see below for testing requirements)
- Enroll in the Alternative Program
- Secure a job teaching
- Receive an Alternative Teacher License
Step 2. Take the Colorado State Tests
As a new candidate for teaching in Colorado, the next step is taking and passing the Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educator (PLACE) exams. The tests for new English teachers in Colorado are the PLACE English Exam (07) and PLACE Basic Skills (90). You may also need to take the test in Early Education or Elementary Education depending on the grades you will teach.
When you register for your exams, you will have the ability to take at least two tests at a time. The exams take several hours and are fairly rigorous. Colorado wants to know that you are prepared to teach and the PLACE exams are proof of those skills.
After you have taken your PLACE exams, you will have the opportunity to retrieve your scores. The wait time is 45 days. Go to the Score Reporting section on the PLACE website to get your scores.
Step 3: Apply for Your License
After taking and passing the PACE exams, you will be ready to apply for your Initial state license. The first license issued will be valid for three years. The checklist for your license application requires the following items:
- Pass the criminal background check
- Seek fingerprinting by creating your “one lifetime eLicensing account“
- Complete the appropriate degree program
- Submit all documentation
- Complete a license application and submit
- Pay the appropriate fees
- Complete the 24 hours of credit for the teaching endorsement
- Pass all the state exams
Step 4: Upgrade and Maintain Your License
When you are ready to move up in your career, you can seek a Professional License once you have held your Initial license and completed the teacher induction program. The induction program will be available through Colorado schools and various approved facilities.
The program will offer you a mentor teacher who will supervise your progress. There will also be certain courses and training you will be required to take. And you will have to complete a course in ethics. Once you have finished everything, you will go through an evaluation of your performance. The course credit requirement for conversion from the initial license up to the Professional License is the induction program.
Colorado English Teacher Salaries
Colorado is well known for its sweeping valleys and high mountain peaks where seventy-five percent of the state is over 10,000 feet in altitude filled with golden Aspens and Ponderosa pines. The state has a population of 5.35 million people that live in areas as rural as tiny mountain towns such as Silverton and Paonia, to large metro cities like Denver and Colorado Springs. Having a teaching career in Colorado will allow you to choose from living on a rural ranch to a modern loft dwelling in the heart of downtown Denver. Teacher salaries will typically reflect adjustments to the cost of living in these different areas as well.
As an example, in Denver a two bedroom one-bath apartment starts at about $1,100 a month. In Colorado Springs you can find a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment for around $725. Below is the entry level and experienced annual salaries for first-year English teachers in Denver and Colorado Springs are:
- Entry: $38,117
- Experienced: $45,282
- Entry: $32,206
- Experienced: $42,349
These two examples show that both experience and location are two factors that impact salaries for English teachers in Colorado. When deciding where to teach, you will want to look at all factors—from cost of living to what level of education you want to pursue. Each decision can make a difference of thousands of dollars of earning power each year.
There are many cities hiring teachers in Colorado. Below is a listing with more salary information from other major metro areas:
Colorado Springs CO
Fort Collins-Loveland CO
West Colorado nonmetropolitan area