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Substitute Teacher Authorizations

Preparing to Apply

This checklist is for ...

Individuals seeking a substitute teacher authorization or to renew a substitute teacher authorization

Not in the right place? Review the other checklists.


  • One-Year authorization: A high school diploma or its equivalent AND successful experience working with children (valid statewide in any accepting school district, BOCES, charter or approved facility school)
  • Three-Year authorization: A bachelor's or higher degree earned at a regionally accredited college or university
  • Five-Year authorization: An active or expired Colorado teacher* license (not special services, principal or administrator) OR an active or expired teacher* license issued by another state

*Full, post-preparation teacher licenses only. Any other type of license or alternative, temporary, provisional, substitute, international, emergency or any type of authorization does not satisfy this requirement.

Plan Ahead

Application Fee:

$60 for 1-year authorizations

$90 for 3- and 5-year authorizations

Authorization Expires:

1 year, 3 years or 5 years from date of issue

Gather the Necessary Information/Documentation

In your application you will need to provide:

  • A valid form of government-issued identification. 
  • A copy of the requisite documentation for the substitute authorization sought:
    • One year: Additional documentation not required.
    • Three-year: A copy of your transcript showing a conferred bachelor's or higher degree conferred by a regionally accredited college or university (transcripts from outside the U.S. must show the equivalent as determined by a NACES member organization-prepared course-by-course equivalency report)
    • Five-year: Out-of-state teacher license-holders will need to provide a copy of their active out-of-state teacher license (Colorado teacher license-holders' information is already on file with CDE)
  • All work experience
  • Documentation for any self-disclosures related to the following:
    • Prior criminal history
    • Disciplinary actions
    • Issues related to licensure or employment

Then ...

  • Log in to COOL to create your licensure account (if you have not already done so.)
  • Submit fingerprints (via the dark blue "CDE licensure" icon) to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
    • Ensure you have a current background check on file. You have 30 days from the time CDE receives your background check to apply for a license.
    • If you have submitted fingerprints for CDE credentialing in the past, but allowed all credentials to lapse or did not submit within the 30-day window, you must submit a new set of fingerprints to CBI for licensure purposes.
    • The status of your background checks will be noticed in your COOL account and within your application(s).


Have everything ready to go?

When you have gathered all required documentation, have submitted fingerprints to CBI for CDE licensure purposes and have reviewed the licensure process, log in to COOL and complete and submit the SUBSTITUTE authorization application.

Final Reminders

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we again reiterate these important reminders:

  • You have 30 days from the time CDE receives your background checks to submit an application or you will need to submit a new set of fingerprints for licensure purposes at the time of application.
  • By submitting an application, you are verifying that you have submitted fingerprints for CDE licensure purposes, provided all requested documentation and answered all questions truthfully.
  • Within 45 days of receipt (usually far sooner!), CDE will evaluate the application.
    • Upon determination of qualification, CDE will notify the applicant and the corresponding certificate will be available for view or print in the individual's COOL account.
  • If for some reason CDE is not able to access all documentation in the application, the application will be deemed "incomplete" and CDE will notify the applicant via email and specify the information needed to complete it. This includes notification that we have yet to receive your background checks!
    • An applicant has 60 days from the date of this notification to cure the deficiency (i.e., provide the necessary information or submit background checks) or submit to the department a written request for reconsideration stating the basis for the request. Additional time is not granted to those who receive this notification due to background checks. Any additional deficiency noticed also will need to be cured within the original 60-day period.
      • Requests for reconsideration do not apply to background checks.
      • CDE will provide a written response within 30 days of any request for reconsideration.
    • An applicant who fails to cure the deficiency or request reconsideration within these 60 days will be deemed as having withdrawn the application, and such withdrawal shall not be subject to appeal or review.
  • State statute prohibits the refunding of any application evaluation fee.
  • Once you have submitted an application, check your COOL account regularly for notifications on its status and/or to print a copy of your certificate.




For questions, submit a Licensing Support Request form or call 720-739-3304 (7:30 am to 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday).