New Mexico Teaching License Guide


How to Become a Teacher in New Mexico

Teaching in New Mexico is a commendable career choice that can be achieved through earning a bachelor's degree from an educator preparation program, taking the required Praxis Series exams, and submitting the licensure application. The bachelor's degree, depending on each prospective teacher's interests, may include at least 24 credit hours in elementary, middle level, or secondary education course work, at least 24 credit hours in a teaching field, and at least 3 credit hours in teaching reading. Additionally, prospective teachers must obtain licensure through New Mexico's Public Education Department after the successful completion of Praxis exams. Particularly, qualifying teachers may be licensed in Blind and Visually Impaired Birth-12, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Birth-12, Early Childhood License Birth-Pre K, Early Childhood License Pre K-3rd Grade, Elementary K-8, Middle-Level 5-9, Secondary 6-12, Secondary Vocational-Technical 7-12, Special Education Pre K-12, and Specialty Area Pre K-12. Furthermore, prospective teachers should be aware that the initial license application mandates a $150 fee, academic transcripts, Praxis exam scores, and background and fingerprint checks.

New Mexico Teacher Certification Programs

New Mexico teacher certification requirements are taught in programs at a range of higher education institutions, such as Central New Mexico Community College, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico Jr College, New Mexico State University, Northern New Mexico College, San Juan College, Santa Fe Community College, University of New Mexico, Wayland Baptist University, and Western New Mexico University, and organizations, like Cooperative Educational Services and local teachers' unions. These establishments assist their students in navigating their course loads and prepare them for student teaching and the essential licensure exams.

For example:

  • Central New Mexico Community College's Teacher Education program guides prospective teachers through their associate of arts degrees in Elementary/Special Education and Secondary Concentrations or certificate of completion in Career Technical Education Teaching.
  • New Mexico State University's School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership has majors in early childhood education, elementary education, special education, and secondary education, with concentrations in science, language arts, math, and social studies.
  • University of New Mexico's College of Education and Human Sciences offers prospective teachers bachelors of arts and sciences, masters, and doctoral degrees in their departments of special education, health, exercise, and sports sciences, individual, family, and community education, language, literacy, and sociocultural studies, and teacher education, educational leadership, and policy.

New Mexico Teacher Education Requirements

A bachelor's degree is required by all candidates. Depending on the desired license, educators may need, at a minimum, 24 credit hours in special education, such as programs for teaching the blind and visually impaired or the deaf and hearing impaired, 45 credit hours in early childhood education, 24 credit hours in relevant course work, 3 credit hours in teaching reading, 24 credit hours in a teaching field, like language arts, social studies, or math, 32 credit hours in vocational-technical training, and 24 credit hours in Pre K-12 education. However, if prospective vocational teachers do not have the specified credit hours, then they may substitute with evidence of experience. Moreover, educators must also engage in student teaching or supervised field experience. As a result, prospective teachers without a bachelor's degree in education must testify that some of their course work was in a teaching field.

Required Tests for New Mexico Teachers

In order to be licensed, New Mexico teachers must pass Praxis exams, which are administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The compulsory exams consist of the reading, writing, and mathematics Praxis 1 Core Academic Skills for Educators, Principles of Learning and Teaching for either K-6 or 7-12, Special Education for either visual impairments or deaf and hard of hearing, Pre-Kindergarten Education, Education of Young Children, Elementary Education, Teaching Reading, Teacher Competency, and the Content Assessments. Prospective New Mexico teachers may prepare for the Praxis exam by reviewing the preparation materials that ETS provides.

New Mexico Praxis Test Requirements

As indicated above, New Mexico teachers cannot become certified without passing the necessary Praxis exams, which vary by subject and level. Further, educators may take Praxis exams prior to seeking licensure, as this is what many certification programs ask of their students. Therefore, prospective teachers should be knowledgeable about passing scores for each of the core and assessment Praxis tests.

Lastly, it is important to realize that educators may register for the Praxis test at an authorized Praxis testing center or at home, and scores will be automatically sent to New Mexico's Public Education Department.

Additional New Mexico Teacher Certification Requirements

Subsequent to a bachelor's degree and the Praxis tests, prospective teachers should ensure that New Mexico's Public Education Department has received their transcripts and Praxis exam scores so that their certification is not delayed. As well, background and fingerprint checks are obligatory and are performed through Gemalto. Here, candidates should register with reason code "TEACHER LICENSURE" and proceed to the closest live scan fingerprint location with their receipt and identification document. Background reports are valid for 24 months and must be executed before the license application is reviewed.

New Mexico Teaching License Application Process

First and foremost, New Mexico teachers may apply for licenses by going to the licensure section of the New Mexico Public Education Department website. Thereafter, applicants must create an account to apply for their desired licenses. This is accomplished with the $150 fee and receipt of education and/or experience, Praxis scores, and a background report. Once reviewed, applicants will be informed via e-mail approximately 20 days after submission. Critically, New Mexico has adopted a three-tier system, meaning that first year educators have at least three years to advance to level two and must participate in a formal mentoring program. In comparison, six years of experience and a master's degree, or advanced certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, is needed to advance to level three.

Separately, a New Mexico substitute teaching license requires a $50 fee, application, Superintendent's Verification for Initial Educational Assistant/Substitute Licensure form, and background and fingerprint checks.

New Mexico Teacher License Renewal

Similarly, New Mexico teacher license renewal is attained with the account initially created on the New Mexico Public Education Department website. This can be done within six months of expiration and involves a $120 fee and superintendent recommendation form or notarized statement. On top of this, if the background report is more than two years old, it will need to be repeated. Crucially, teachers advancing to a level two or three license must submit their Professional Development Dossier, which is a collection of documents that demonstrate educators' key competencies, to the Professional Licensure Bureau of the New Mexico Public Education Department or receive an extension on their level one license. An extension may be granted if the educator did not teach for the entire life of the license, but if the dossier is not passed, educators cannot teach for three years.

Alternative Routes to Licensure for New Mexico Teachers

Prospective teachers may choose to gain licensure through the traditional route, as noted in the introduction, or pursue alternative opportunities. Fortunately, the state of New Mexico awards temporary licenses to teachers simultaneously enrolled in courses at accredited schools or interns who have experience teaching post-secondary students. Namely, these are known as the Alternative Educator Prep Program and the Alternative Post-Secondary Experience (Pre K-12). If the aforementioned does not apply to an individual, then prospective teachers can also enlist in the Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL) Pathway Program. This is dissimilar to the preceding options because prospective teachers are mentored and evaluated in a New Mexico Public School District while they take a course in reading methods and the Praxis exams.

Since the New Mexico Public Education Department endorses certification programs for prospective teachers who do not have degrees in education, interested educators are able to acquire classroom experience and study teaching courses concurrently through the Alternative Educator Prep Program, the Alternative Post-Secondary Experience (Pre K-12), or the OPAL Pathway Program. Consequently, educators exploring alternative licensure must be at least 18 years old, comply with a background check, have an undergraduate or graduate degree with a GPA of 2.75 or higher, and pass the NMTA Essential Academic Skills tests. In addition, the Alternative Educator Prep Program directs its students to complete at least 6 credit hours in teaching reading and 30 credit hours in the desired license subject area. Likewise, those in the Alternative Post-Secondary Experience (Pre K-12) and the OPAL Pathway Program must also take teaching reading and show proof of course work and experience. Once qualified, educators are issued alternative licenses for either one or two years and serve as teachers of record before applying for a tiered teaching license.

Certification in New Mexico for Out-of-State Teachers

Significantly, New Mexico teacher certification requirements for out-of-state educators include a $150 fee, an application through the New Mexico Public Education Department website, college transcripts, teaching licenses from their native state, teacher licensure exam scores, enumerated experience, and a background report. In the event that out-of-state educators underwent an alternative teacher preparation program, the New Mexico Public Education Department's Approved Program Completion Verification Form will need to be filled out. Relative to the desired licenses, some out-of-state educators may be allowed a one-year certificate that is sponsored by the individual's district of employment in New Mexico; this is helpful for educators who have no experience but fulfill all other requirements.

New Mexico Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

Alluded to earlier, New Mexico teachers should understand the three-tier licensure system, whereby tier one, two, and three licenses earn annual salaries of $36,000, $44,000, and $54,000, respectively. When juxtaposed to the national average, teachers in New Mexico are paid competitively, especially as employment growth projections are considered, which were estimated to be 8.8%, or 6,877 jobs, between 2014 and 2024. Specifically, the largest school district in the state of New Mexico has addressed the educator shortage by noting that Math and Science teachers for grades 6-12 and ESL/Bilingual Endorsement and Special Education teachers for grades K-12 are difficult to retain and, thus, are actively sought after.

Statewide, there is one teacher for every 16 students, and there are 22,883 full-time teachers in the 356 public and private school districts.

Tier One License Salary  $36,000
Tier Two License Salary $44,000
Tier Three License Salary $54,000
Projected Number of Jobs Growth of 6,877 jobs over a ten-year period
Teacher-to-Student Ratio One teacher for every 16 students
Number of Teachers in Private and Public Schools 22,883 full-time teachers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many questions do you need to get right to pass the Praxis?

    Notably, New Mexico requires multiple Praxis tests for each of the teaching licenses offered. Due to this, and the scoring methods of the exams, there is no minimum amount of correct questions needed to pass the tests. This is because the tests have several editions, and the distribution of points varies accordingly. Instead, test-takers should be aware that points are awarded for each correct answer; incorrect answers do not affect the overall score.

  • How do I get a teaching license in New Mexico?

    Traditionally, teaching licenses in New Mexico obligate a $150 fee, an initial application, a bachelor's degree in education, passing scores on the Praxis exams, and a background report. Alternatively, educators can concurrently teach and take the necessary credit hours through a state-sponsored program, in addition to the other requirements.

  • What is a Level 1 teacher in New Mexico?

    A level one teacher license is given to educators with less than three years of experience. Level one teachers hold their licenses until they have between three to five years of experience.

  • Can you get a teaching license without a degree in education?

    New Mexico offers teaching licenses to those without a degree in education through the Alternative Educator Prep Program, the Post Secondary Teaching Experience, and the Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure Pathway Program. This allows educators to simultaneously teach and enroll in courses without returning to school for an additional bachelor's degree.

  • How do I become a Level 3 teacher in New Mexico?

    Teachers with three to five years of experience graduate from a level one license following their submission and acceptance of the Professional Development Dossier. Thereafter, level two licensees advance to level three once they have six or more years of experience.