New Mexico Alternative Teacher Certification

Prospective teachers who have a degree in a subject outside of education and did not complete a teacher preparation program can earn New Mexico alternative teacher certification. The alternative pathways to certification are designed for career-switchers who are interested in teaching in high-need areas.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

Prospective educators interested in alternative teacher certification in New Mexico must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must have a major with at least 30 undergraduate credit hours in one content area or 12 graduate credit hours in one content area. Candidates must also pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA) for the subject(s) and grade level(s) to be taught.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in New Mexico

There are three main pathways to alternative teacher licensure in New Mexico. All pathways in the state involve completing a teacher preparation program, which may be completed in as little as one year as a post-graduate certificate or as a licensure-only course of study. Candidates may also elect to pursue a master’s degree in education via certain approved programs.

Fast-track Alternative Licensure Program

The Fast-track Alternative Licensure Program allows candidates who meet the education requirements outlined above to earn a teaching certificate by completing a teacher preparation program on an accelerated curriculum. The program must be one of the state’s approved alternative licensure programs. Candidates may apply for an intern license to teach while attending a program. After program completion, graduates are eligible for a Level I teaching license.

Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure

The Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL) pathway allows candidates to earn teaching certification through a portfolio review. Candidates must meet the requirements of the portfolio, take the three required New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA), and take at least 3 credit hours of reading courses, depending on the grade(s) to be taught. Teachers must also arrange for a teaching internship, which will be used to meet the portfolio requirements. After portfolio review, the New Mexico Public Education Department may issue a Level I license.

Master’s Plus Licensure Program

Several colleges and universities in New Mexico have been approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department to offer programs leading to a master’s degree and teacher licensure in the state. To follow the master’s route, candidates must attend one of these state-approved programs. Successful completion of program requirements leads to Level I teaching licensure.

Vocational Technical Education

Prospective teachers of vocational or career and technical education (CTE) subjects may qualify for the Vocational Technical Education route to licensure. This requires candidates to have either a bachelor’s degree with 32 credit hours in an occupational area; an associate’s degree plus two years of work experience in an occupational area; or a high school diploma plus five years of work experience in an occupational area. Candidates must either take 15 semester hours of professional education in vocational technical subjects or follow a school-sponsored Professional Development Plan (PDP). Candidates may apply for a one-year license while completing the PDP, after which candidates are eligible for a Vocational Technical Education license.

Testing Requirements for New Mexico Alternative Certification

All candidates except for Vocational Technical Education teachers must pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA) basic skills test. Candidates must also pass the appropriate NMTA content and pedagogy competency assessments for the endorsement(s) sought.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Teachers from other states may be eligible for licensure reciprocity in New Mexico if the requirements of the original licensing state are substantially similar to the requirements in New Mexico. Each application for licensure by reciprocity is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Candidates typically must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, proof of completion of an approved teacher education program, proof of passing a teacher competency exam in the state of initial licensure, and evidence that the candidate taught successfully in that state. For additional details, see our guide to teacher certification reciprocity.

Additional Resources

Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL)
TeachNM Pathways to Teaching
New Mexico Options for Licensure
New Mexico Licensure Matrix

Schools with Alternative Certification Programs in New Mexico

Because the alternative certification process is complex, we have researched and provided specific school programs below for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree outside of education and want to become a teacher. We recommend you request information from one or more of these specific programs:

Searching for Schools...
Matching School Ads

1. New Mexico Public Education Department: https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/