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How to Get Your Colorado Substitute Teacher License

Updated: Jan 18

Substitute teaching is a remarkably rewarding career move for many people. You get to pick and choose your workdays, teach a variety of subjects in different settings, and make a meaningful impact on students of all ages.

Fortunately, Colorado—unlike other states—doesn’t require a professional teacher license for substitute teaching. Instead, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) offers three types of substitute teacher authorizations with different educational and experience requirements.

Whether you’re looking for a flexible, part-time job or to launch your full-time substitute teaching career, Colorado is an exciting place to start.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a substitute teacher in Colorado.

Steps to Get Your Colorado Substitute Teacher License

1. Determine which type of CDE license you need.

CDE issues three types of substitute teacher authorizations: one-year, three-year, and five-year. Each allows you to teach any subject in K-12 for Colorado’s public school districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), charter schools, and CDE-approved facility schools. However, the difference in authorizations lies in their prerequisites and renewals.

A one-year CDE authorization requires:

  • A $60 application fee

  • A high school diploma or its equivalent

  • Proof of successful experience working with children

A three-year CDE authorization requires:

  • A $90 application fee

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college/university

A five-year CDE authorization requires:

  • A $90 application fee

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college/university

  • An active or expired Colorado teacher license OR an active out-of-state teacher license

2. Obtain the education and/or work experience you need for your Colorado substitute teaching CDE license.

Based on the above list of requirements, complete all the necessary items for your authorization type of choice before starting your application.

3. Gather the necessary documents (electronically is best).

You need to submit a copy of the following with your CDE application:

  • A valid government-issued ID

  • Your work history

  • Any self-disclosures related to prior criminal history, disciplinary actions, or licensure or employment issues

  • For three-year CDE authorizations: Transcript of your bachelor’s degree

  • For five-year CDE authorizations: Proof of an active out-of-state teacher license (if you’re licensed in Colorado, you’re already on file with CDE)

4. Create your licensure account on the Colorado Online Licensure and submission system (COOL).

Then click “Apply for License” from your dashboard to get started and review their application checklists. The CDE even offers a free, virtual seminar designed to help you navigate the Colorado authorization process and find your first job.

5. Complete a background check and submit your fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The final step to become a sub in Colorado! You have 30 days from the time CDE receives your completed background check and fingerprint submission to send in your application.

And that’s it! Within 45 days, you’ll be notified by the CDE and able to view your awarded authorization through your COOL account.

Luckily, you don’t even need a substitute authorization to get started! While the authorization is required to work in public districts, Teaching Nomad also works with charter & private schools which do not require it! Whether you’re certified or not, the hiring process is quick and easy. Due to the teacher shortage, substitutes are in high demand across the state. Research your local school districts, call their offices, and register with us to find out about upcoming subbing opportunities.


Don’t know where to start? Register to become a substitute teacher in Colorado today and we’ll connect you with the best substitute teaching jobs in Colorado, pay for your background check, and even provide free training!

Get your Colorado CDE substitute teaching license


Ready to become a substitute teacher?

Earn up to $220/day substitute teaching on your own schedule.

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