Colorado Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

In 2013 the state of Colorado launched a new program slated to set the standard for teacher evaluations across the state. The program requires that teachers will be evaluated on their performance once a year. Part of their assessment will now be tied to how well their student’s are also performing. The program went into full effect as of 2014.

For art teachers in public Colorado schools, a group known as Colorado Content Collaborative has come together from across the state to create a way to measure the performance of students due to the fact that art isn’t a subject measured on standardized tests. If you are considering becoming a new art teacher in Colorado, it is good to be aware that they value a high level of achievement from all educators. Here are the steps to take to become a teacher in Colorado:

Pursue Your Education
Receive a Passing Score on the State Exam
Apply for Your License
Continue Your Education



Step 1. Pursue Your Education

Most colleges and universities offer coursework that lead to Colorado licensure in undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and master’s degree programs. Colorado requires all public school teachers to hold a license issued by the State Department of Education. If you successfully complete all the requirements of your program, you will be recommended for a Colorado Initial Teaching License.

You will need, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Some universities offer a teacher’s education program in Colorado that can be part of the bachelor degree program. This allows you to be able to complete your schooling in four years. When you apply to a Teacher’s education program, you can expect to learn material in the following areas:

  • Knowledge in all areas of art.
  • The methods and practices of teaching.
  • How students learn in a diverse society.
  • Professional obligations of educators.

To meet your educational goals, you will participate in a required number of courses and off-campus field experiences at community school sites. Along with coursework for the bachelor’s degree, classes for the teacher portion of the program may be broken down in the following manner:

Elementary School Licensure

  • Foreign Language: This will be a third semester course.
  • Quantitative Reasoning and Math Skills: 3 to 6 semester hrs.
  • Written Communication: 6 hrs.
  • History: 3 hrs.
  • Human Diversity: 3 hrs.
  • US Context: 3 hrs.
  • Literature and Arts: 6 hrs.
  • Natural Science: 13 hrs.
  • Ideals/Values: 3 hrs.
  • Additional Liberal Arts: 3 hrs.

Secondary School Licensure

  • Foreign Language
  • Quantitative Reasoning and Math: 3–6 hrs.
  • Written Communication: 6 hrs.
  • History: 3 hrs.
  • Human Diversity: 3 hrs.
  • US Context: 3 hrs.
  • Literature and Arts: 6 hrs.
  • Natural Science: 13 hrs. experience
  • Contemporary Societies: 3 hrs.
  • Ideals/Values: 3 hrs.



Step 2. Receive a Passing Score on State Exams

Whether you are seeking an elementary school license or secondary school license you will need to take a PLACE exam. The test you want to take to become an art teacher in Colorado is PLACE Art Exam #28. You are allowed four and a half hours to complete the test. There are two sessions: a morning session beginning at 7:30 a.m. and an afternoon session beginning at 1:00 p.m. Here is the information you will need to take the test:

  • Go over the registration checklist for the things you need to take the test
  • Be aware there are only three test dates available in the year
  • Deadline to register is two weeks prior to the test date
  • Study guide for art exam #28 is available here
  • Pay your fee of $60 online
  • Register for your test here

Once you have taken your test you will be able to find out what your score is 45 days after you have taken your test. Select Score Reporting on the PLACE site and follow the instructions.



Step 3. Apply for Your License

Initial License

The next step in the process is to apply for your license. The Initial License is good for three years in the state of Colorado. Here are the things you will need:

  • You will need to pass a criminal background check
  • Submit fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • Holds a bachelor’s or higher degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program
  • Submit official signed letter by your education program head confirming the completion
  • Submit license application
  • Include official transcripts
  • Pay your application fees
  • Include all supporting documentation
  • Complete 24 semester hours of course credit appropriate to receive the endorsement to teach art for grades K-12
  • Provide proof of that you passed your exams

You can apply online for your license here. You will want to make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Reader (free) loaded on your computer for the application process to work properly.

Professional License

Once you’ve held your initial license for three years and you complete a Colorado Induction Program, your license may be converted to a Professional License. The Induction Programs are available through most Colorado school districts and include teacher evaluations, mentoring programs and training as well as supervision that better prepares and establishes the new teacher for their career in teaching.

You will need to upload a copy of the original certificate once you have completed your induction program into your License application as proof of completion. Your Professional License will be good for five years.

Apply here for your Professional license.



Step 4. Continue Your Education

The state of Colorado requires six semester hours or 90 hours of continuing education from an approved educational source every five years. This means that you can choose to add to your formal education by adding college courses to your degree or you can opt for professional development seminars and classes.

Many teachers choose to add college classes to their degree because they know it is an investment in their future. A higher education often leads to an increase in their salary over time, which also adds more income to their retirement account. Some schools are also rewarding highly qualified teachers with incentive pay in the form of mentor programs. When the time comes to renew your license, it may be wise to consider what options are available to you.


Colorado Art Teacher Salaries

The Colorado Department of Labor does not provide data on art teacher salaries as a separate unit, but tracks salaries for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers as larger categories. The department reports the following annual mean wages and employment figures as of May 2013:

Occupation title EmploymentAnnual mean wage
Elementary School Teachers23,840$49,720
Middle School Teachers12,830$50,300
Secondary School Teachers15,920$51,540

However, it’s important to note that teacher salaries can vary significantly by location. A sample of the median salaries and employment figures as reported by the Colorado Department of Labor is below (note that not all locations track all categories):

Boulder, CO
Elementary School Teachers1,930$55,350
Middle School Teachers860$54,420
Secondary School Teachers1,190$56,550

Colorado Springs, CO

Elementary School Teachers3,550$44,990
Middle School Teachers1,860$44,680
Secondary School Teachers2,310$46,090

Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO

Elementary School Teachers10,980$52,980
Middle School Teachers6,290$53,920
Secondary School Teachers7,690$55,970

Fort Collins-Loveland, CO

Elementary School Teachers1,460$47,470
Middle School Teachers710$48,980
Secondary School Teachers970$48,410

Grand Junction, CO

Teachers and Instructors, All Other, Except Substitute Teachers80$31,990

Greeley, CO

Elementary School Teachers1,180$45,410
Middle School Teachers570$45,540
Secondary School Teachers690$47,590

Pueblo, CO

Elementary School Teachers710$48,050
Middle School Teachers420$45,820

The National Education Association says that a starting teacher salary in the 2012-2013 school year in Colorado was $32,126. The state does not have a state-wide salary scale, but each district sets their own scales. As of 2012, Adams County District 50 in Westminster had the top starting salary of large districts, at $40,500, followed by Boulder Valley at $40,000 and Denver Public Schools at $37,551.

Further information on postsecondary art teacher salaries throughout the state can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Boulder CO
Estimate Not Released
Colorado Springs CO
Denver-Aurora-Broomfield CO
Estimate Not Released
Fort Collins-Loveland CO
Greeley CO
East and South Colorado nonmetropolitan area
West Colorado nonmetropolitan area

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