Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Colorado

Preschool teachers in Colorado must meet specific professional preparation requirements set forth in the Colorado Preschool Program Act and enforced by the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS). In order to earn a credential to teach preschool in the state, prospective teachers have to go through the following steps:

Complete the Required Educational/Experience Requirements
Apply for an Early Childhood Teacher Verification Letter

It’s one of the easiest credentialing regimes in the U.S., and a small step to take in the service of a big idea: that improving the education of children in their earliest years can have huge impacts in the long-term well-being of both those kids and the society they will build.

One of the largest employers of preschool teachers in Colorado is the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP), which, since its inception in 1988, has provided early childhood education to more than 378,000 children in Colorado.

This program, which is governed by the Colorado Department of Education and funded by the State of Colorado, provides half-day or full-day preschool programs to children who meet specific risk factors. CPP programs may be located in school district settings, community preschools, Head Start programs, or local child care centers.

The legislature provides funding for CPP participation for nearly 30,000 students each year, 20,000 of which are enrolled in a half-day program. With 175 of the 179 school districts in the state participating, most early childhood educators in the state have some contact with CPP.

Staff in charge of teaching young children in a preschool/early childhood setting must possess, at a minimum, a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA), an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education/Child Development, or a Child Care Professional Credential (CCP).

 


 

Step 1. Complete the Required Educational/Experience Requirements

If you want to become an early childhood educator in Colorado, you must possess at least ONE of the following:

  • A four-year bachelor’s degree in one of the following:
    • Early childhood education
    • Elementary education
    • Special education
    • Family and child development
    • Child psychology

OR

  • A bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area, AND:
    • At least 2 early childhood education college courses with at least one course being introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
    • At least 6 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool)

OR

  • An associate’s degree in early childhood education, which must include at least 2 early childhood education college courses with at least one course being introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
    • At least 6 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool)

OR

  • The completion of at least 12 semester hours of early childhood credits at the college-level; AND
    • At least 9 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool)

OR

  • The completion of a vocational or occupational education sequence in child growth and development; AND
    • At least 12 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool)

OR

OR

  • A current Colorado Level I credential or at least two courses in early childhood education from a regionally accredited college or university, with at least one course being in introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
    • At least 24 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool)

Regardless of the path you choose to become a preschool teacher in Colorado, you must be able to show you have achieved the required education credits in the field of early childhood education through a portfolio that demonstrates knowledge in:

  • Understanding parent partnerships
  • Knowledge of multicultural education
  • Early childhood development
  • Applying developmentally appropriate practice in the classroom

The following is a list of regionally accrediting organizations recognized by the CDHS:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools – The Higher Learning Commission
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges – Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Middle States Commission on Higher Education

There are a number of Colorado colleges and universities that provide degree/training programs that meet requirements to become a preschool teacher in Colorado. You can view a list of these programs here.

 


 

Step 2. Apply for an Early Childhood Teacher Verification Letter

Once you have completed the necessary requirements to become a preschool teacher in Colorado, you may apply for an Early Childhood Verification letter by completing and submitting an Application Data Form Early Childhood Teacher Qualifications to the center director for review and verification of your qualifications. Then you must send the application and all required documentation to:

Early Childhood Teacher Qualifications
CDHS, Division of Child Care
1575 Sherman Street
Denver, CO 80203

Once the Director has verified the information contained in the application, the Division of Child Care will issue you an Early Childhood Teacher Verification Letter.

Because licenses/certificates are not issued for early childhood teachers in Colorado, the letter serves as an indication that you are fully qualified. The CDHS maintains a list of all fully qualified preschool teachers in Colorado.

You can contact Sarah Herron at 303-866-5860 or at sarah.herron@state.co.us with any questions regarding the completion of the Teacher Verification Letter.


Colorado Preschool Teacher Salaries

Quality is a consistent emphasis for Colorado early childhood education programs. The state-administered ranking program for childcare and early education programs known as Colorado Shines, rates each on a 5-step scale. With faculty qualifications forming an important part of that assessment, no respectable preschool program in the state is going to skimp on salaries to bring in the best teachers.

It shows in the state salary numbers, which tend to range at or above the national average for the various roles in early childhood education. Those salaries are shown as a range below (median, top 25 and top 10 percent):

Preschool Administrators: $47,190 – $60,430 – $78,050

Preschool Teacher: $30,440 – $36,990 – $46,710

Preschool Special Educator: $53,620 – $66,620 – $79,760

Colorado is also experiencing a growth spurt that is driving hiring in all aspects of early childhood education. Administrators and preschool teachers can expect growth rates of over 30 percent in the coming decade, with an overwhelming 1,240 openings each year for teachers, both from attrition and new positions being created. Special educators will see about 110 openings per year, with a 21.6 percent growth rate through 2026.

Below, salaries and major employers for some of the state’s bigger metro areas provide more specific insights on hiring and pay rates available to early childhood educators in Colorado:

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood

The Denver area has probably the largest selection of preschools in the state and also offers some of the best compensation for teachers and administrators.

  • Our Lady of Loreto
  • Denver Public Schools
  • Escalante-Biggs Academy
  • Aurora Public Schools
  • Jeffco Public Schools
  • Little Trappers Preschool
  • STEM Lab Preschool
  • North Star Academy
  • 27J Schools

At preschools in the greater Denver Aurora areas, ECE teachers, administrators and special education specialists can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $48,080
  • 75th Percentile – $65,510
  • 90th Percentile – $79,890

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $30,650
  • 75th Percentile – $37,090
  • 90th Percentile – $47,450

Special Education Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $58,350
  • 75th Percentile – $72,780
  • 90th Percentile – $85,750

Colorado Springs

For its size, Colorado Springs offers a high number of early childhood education employers in both public and private settings.

  • Colorado Springs School District
  • Tri-Lakes Community Preschool
  • Community Partnership for Childhood Development
  • Fellowship of the Rockies Preschool
  • Cheyenne Mountain School District
  • First Step Preschool
  • Sunrise United Methodist Church Preschool
  • Frontier Preschool
  • Academy District 20

At preschools in Colorado Springs, teachers, special education specialists and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $48,050
  • 75th Percentile – $70,450
  • 90th Percentile – $78,770

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $27,640
  • 75th Percentile – $31,020
  • 90th Percentile – $42,840

Special Education Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $47,270
  • 75th Percentile – $54,930
  • 90th Percentile – $62,250

Boulder

Boulder preschools are dominated by the CPP-funded locale public school district programs.

  • Boulder Valley School District
  • 27J Schools
  • Little Trappers Preschool

At these Boulder preschools, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $46,240
  • 75th Percentile – $50,340
  • 90th Percentile – $68,420

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $32,390
  • 75th Percentile – $40,070
  • 90th Percentile – $51,820

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 for preschool teachers, preschool special education teachers and preschool administrators – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm#11-9111. The BLS salary data shown here represents median – 90th percentile salary ranges for the state and its MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

 Job growth projections sourced from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All salary and job growth data accessed in September 2019.

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