The New Mexico Teaching and Certification Resource

Becoming a certified teacher in New Mexico requires a teaching certification. In order to obtain a certification, there are several pathways an aspiring teacher may follow depending on education and experience. The New Mexico teacher certification process is overseen by the state’s Public Education Department and is outlined in detail below.

How to Become a Teacher in New Mexico

Like most states, Mexico has a number of requirements applicants must fufill before working in the public school system. All NM teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a New Mexico teachers certification program and pass the required content and subject area examinations. Once these steps are followed, applicants should decide on the type certification to pursue.

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Prospective candidates pursuing teaching certification in New Mexico have multiple paths to New Mexico teacher certification. An early childhood certificate would allow a candidate to educate children from birth through grade 3, and an elementary certificate would allow a prospective teacher to teach any grade from kindergarten through eighth. Middle level certification covers students in grades 5 through 9, and secondary certification covers grades 7 through 12. Other certificate areas are the Pre K-12 specialty (such as art or music) and special education. New Mexico also offers a variety of endorsements that may be added on to an initial certificate, such as gifted, information technology coordinator, and library/media.

For experienced teachers with out-of-state certifications, New Mexico reciprocity is possible provided that applicants fulfill the remaining requirements. This process is normally carried out on an individual basis depending on experience and prior test scores. For more information on reciprocity or the New Mexico teachers certification renewal process, contact the state’s Public Education Department

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in New Mexico

Anyone pursuing a New Mexico educator certificate must complete an approved teacher education program at an accredited school. Prospective teachers evaluating available programs should confirm that it is offered in an institute that is accredited by the state’s regional accreditation body. There are six regional accreditation agencies, which are overseen by the US Department of Education.

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) is responsible for accrediting New Mexico schools. Additionally, schools that are headquartered out of state and offer online teacher education programs should be accredited by its corresponding regional agency. Whether the program is campus based or online, attending an approved program in an accredited school is imperative for teaching applicants.

Additionally, most state look for an accreditation from the national Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness (CAEP). This organization is the result of a recent merger between the NCATE and TEAC, two highly respectable accreditation institutions. Under its new name, CAEP will continue to accredit schools using the same rigorous standards the two former organizations were known for. Although this accreditation may not be mandatory for state-approval, it is a high marker of excellence in terms of teacher education and most schools will apply for the distinguished accreditation.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in New Mexico.

Quick Guide

New Mexico Teacher Education Requirements

The most direct way to fulfill the education requirements for becoming a teacher is to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and have completed an approved teacher education program. Common teacher education programs include early childhood education, elementary education, middle grades education, and secondary education (with a content area focus).

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New Mexico Teacher Outlook as of 2014
The Occupational Supply & Demand System projects 440 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 180 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 270 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in New Mexico through 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 18,720 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in New Mexico (2013). Elementary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $51,470, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $48,640, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $50,380 (BLS 2013). The National Education Association – New Mexico, a large advocate organization for educators at public institutions in New Mexico, provides more information on teaching careers and issues in the state.

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New Mexico Teacher Testing Requirements

New Mexico State SealThe NMTA (New Mexico Teacher Assessments) are required of all new applicants for a New Mexico educator certification. The NMTA is comprised of the New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Basic Skills and the New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Competency (Elementary, Secondary or Early Childhood). Individuals applying for initial New Mexico teaching certification or adding certain endorsements must also take the Content Knowledge Assessment(s) in the certification/endorsement area.

Additional New Mexico Teacher Certification Requirements

New Mexico state law states that anyone applying for New Mexico teacher certification submit fingerprints for a state and federal background check. This process should be begun by request a fingerprinting card from the NM Department of Public Safety.

New Mexico Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once the steps towards teacher certification in New Mexico have been completed, applicants should send in their application packet to the state’s licensing office. The process time can vary, but from May to September the average processing time is between 8 – 12 weeks and during October through April the processing time is 1 – 4 weeks. Using this as a guide, the application should be sent in with ample time for processing.

  1. Clearance of background check
  2. Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree
  3. Proof of teacher program completion at an accredited teacher preparation school
  4. Passing score on required knowledge and subject area examinations
  5. Completed application for teaching certification in New Mexico
  6. Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee

New Mexico Public Education Department
Jerry Apodaca Education Building
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Visit the state’s Public Education Department for further details on New Mexico teacher certification.

New Mexico Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 1,660 $30,280
Kindergarten Teachers 1,520 $46,070
Elementary School Teachers 9,390 $51,610
Middle School Teachers 3,760 $52,570
Secondary School Teachers 6,030 $50,780

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in New Mexico

Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in New Mexico?

Answer: To become a high school teacher in New Mexico requires that you hold a license from the state. The requirements for the license include a bachelor’s degree with education courses and student teaching. You must also have at least 24 credit hours in the subject you hope to teach and you must pass the New Mexico educator tests for basic skills, secondary teacher competency, and content knowledge.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. New Mexico Public Education Department: http://ped.state.nm.us/ped/index.html
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000

Page edited by Charles Sipe.