The New Mexico Teaching and Certification Resource

To become a public school teacher in New Mexico candidates must earn a teaching license. The New Mexico teacher certification process is overseen by the New Mexico Public Education Department and is outlined below for those seeking information on how to become a teacher in New Mexico.

How to Become a Teacher in New Mexico

Like most states, New Mexico has a number of requirements that applicants must fulfill before working in the public school system. All teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a New Mexico teacher preparation program, and pass the required content and subject area examinations. Those who have not completed a teacher preparation program may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in New Mexico.

New Mexico uses a tiered licensing structure for educators. Newly-licensed teachers begin as Level I Provisional Teachers. New teachers must complete a Professional Development Plan (PDP) developed with the school principal. Completion of the PDP, a mentoring program, and at least three years of experience leads to Level II Professional licensure. Candidates may elect to pursue the highest level of licensure, Level III, by completing a master’s degree and three years of teaching at Level II.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in New Mexico

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in NM through 20242

Anyone pursuing a New Mexico educator certificate must complete an approved teacher education program at an accredited school. You can find a list of approved programs through the TeachNM website.

Prospective teachers evaluating programs offered out-of-state or online should confirm that programs are accredited by that state’s regional accreditation body. There are six regional accreditation agencies, which are overseen by the US Department of Education.

Additionally, many schools look for accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation is a marker of excellence in teacher education.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in New Mexico.

New Mexico Teacher Outlook
The New Mexico Workforce Connection projects 64 average annual job openings due to growth and 171 average annual job openings due to replacements for elementary school teachers, 32 average annual job openings due to growth and 84 average annual job openings due to replacements for middle school teachers, and 51 average annual job openings due to growth and 144 average annual openings due to replacements for secondary school teachers in New Mexico through 2024.3 The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 18,700 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in New Mexico.4 Within the state, elementary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $58,410, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $52,800, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $54,590.4 The National Education Association – New Mexico provides more information on teaching careers and issues in the state.

New Mexico Teacher Education Requirements

The most direct way to fulfill the education requirements for becoming a teacher in New Mexico is to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and complete an approved teacher education program. It is highly recommended that candidates select a teacher preparation program approved by the state.

New Mexico Teacher Testing Requirements

New Mexico State SealThe NMTA (New Mexico Teacher Assessments) are required for all applicants for 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 of the subjects they wish to teach.

Additional New Mexico Teacher Certification Requirements

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

New Mexico Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once the steps towards teacher certification in New Mexico have been completed, candidates must apply for a license. The following documentation is required:

  • Clearance of background check.
  • Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree.
  • Proof of teacher preparation program completion from an approved school.
  • Passing score on required knowledge and subject area examinations.
  • Completed application for teaching certification in New Mexico.
  • Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee.

New Mexico has moved to an online system, the Professional Development Dossier (PDD), for applications and renewals. Visit the state’s Public Education Department for further details on New Mexico teacher certification.

New Mexico Teacher Salary and Jobs

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers2,010$31,030
Preschool Teachers, Special EducationNot availableNot available
Kindergarten Teachers1,180$56,930
Elementary School Teachers9,330$58,410
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School940$60,050
Middle School Teachers3,690$52,800
Middle School Teachers, Special Education570$51,920
Secondary School Teachers5,680$54,590
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education1,160$55,530
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education310$56,230

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.4

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, you must hold a license from the state. The requirements for the license include completing a bachelor’s degree and a teacher preparation program that includes 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: https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. New Mexico Workforce Connection: https://www.jobs.state.nm.us/vosnet/Default.aspx
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New Mexico: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nm.htm