Home Teaching Programs in New Mexico

Teaching Programs in New Mexico

Working as a teacher in New Mexico gives you the unique opportunity to educate one of the nation’s most diverse populations of students—48% of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latinx, and 9% are Native American. Not only that, but the state acutely needs teachers. The 2018 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report found 740 unfilled K-12 teaching positions, with vacancies increasing by 55% from 2017 to 2018.

Fortunately, New Mexico’s lawmakers are working on several initiatives to address the shortage–from improving the licensure process to exploring pay increases–making this a great time to plan your teaching career.

On this page, discover how to become a teacher in New Mexico.

How Can I Get a Teaching Degree in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, aspiring teachers must determine what grade level or educational specialty they wish to enter in order to earn teaching certification. The specific requirements for each license are described below.

Traditional Pathway to Becoming a Teacher in New Mexico

New Mexico offers educators nine types of initial teaching licenses based on the content area in which you’d like to teach. Eight are non-vocational teaching licenses and one is a vocational/technical license. Each has unique requirements in terms of the number of education and teaching hours, assessments, and other factors.

To gain an initial license for the eight non-vocational/technical teacher licenses, you must submit:

  • An initial application
  • A non-refundable $150 fee
  • Official sealed transcripts from one of the accredited teaching programs in New Mexico showing you have completed a bachelor’s degree with a specified number of classroom and field experience hours in your specialty area
  • Proof that you’ve passed certain required exams in your specialty area.

The specific requirements for each of these eight licenses are as follows:

1. Early Childhood Birth-Pre-K

  • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 45, comprised of the following:
    • 15 semester hours
    • Six practicum or supervised field experience hours
    • Nine hours of student teaching in birth to age four
    • At least 135 contact hours of practicum or field experience in other range than birth to age four
    • Evidence of three years of recorded, satisfactory work experiences with at least two of the age ranges birth to three, three to five, or five to eight
  • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Six
  • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading/Writing/Mathematics
    • Teacher Competency in Early Childhood Education: Education of Young Children

2. Early Childhood Pre-K-3rd Grade

  • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 45, comprised of the following:
    • 15 semester hours
    • Six practicum or supervised field experience hours
    • Nine hours of student teaching ages three through third grade
    • At least 135 contact hours of practicum or field experience in other range than three years to third grade
  • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Six
  • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
    • Teaching Competency in Pre-Kindergarten Education

3. Elementary

  • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 30
  • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Six
  • Semester hours in a teaching field (e.g., language arts, social studies, math, etc.): 24
  • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
    • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6
    • Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
    • Teaching Reading: Elementary

4. Middle Level

  • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 30
  • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Three
  • Semester hours in a teaching field (e.g., language arts, social studies, math, etc.): 24
  • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
    • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 OR Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12
    • One of the Content Assessments for the First Endorsement on the License, along with coursework
  • If you have an elementary, secondary, pre-K, or special education license and you can provide proof that you have five years’ teaching experience in middle grades, you are eligible for a middle-level license as long as you meet the endorsement requirement.

5. Secondary

  • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 24, with 12 being in upper-division courses
  • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Three
  • Semester hours in teaching field (e.g., language arts, social studies, math, etc.): 24
  • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
    • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12
    • One of the Content Assessments for the First Endorsement on the License, along with coursework

6. Special Education

  • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 30
  • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Six
  • Semester hours in a teaching field (e.g., language arts, social studies, math, etc.): 24
  • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
    • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
    • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 OR Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12
    • Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications

7. Pre-K-12 Specialty

    • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 24
    • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Three
    • Semester hours in a teaching field (e.g., language arts, social studies, math, etc.): 24, with 12 of those in upper-division
    • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
      • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
      • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
      • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
      • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 OR Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12
      • One of the Content Assessments for the First Endorsement on the License, along with coursework

      You may meet the endorsement requirement if you have a New Mexico teaching license in elementary, middle level, secondary, or special education and meet specific other conditions.

      8. Blind and Visually Impaired

      • Semester hours in content-area coursework: 24
      • Semester hours in teaching reading (for those who entered any college on or after Aug. 1, 2001): Six
      • Semester hours in a teaching field (e.g., language arts, social studies, math, etc.): 24
      • Subject-specific PRAXIS exams you must pass (as of Jan. 1, 2020):
        • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
        • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
        • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
        • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 OR Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12

Becoming a Teacher Through Alternative Certification or as a Career Switcher

Because of the high demand for teachers in New Mexico, the state offers three alternative paths to licensure for aspiring teachers who possess bachelor’s degrees in subjects other than education.

Aside from the $150 fee and alternative application, the following are required to earn alternative licensure:

      • Alternative Educator Prep Program: a nonrenewable, post-baccalaureate, two-year license that enables a person to teach and complete education courses to obtain a full Level 1 licensure, if the following requirements are met:
        • Demonstrate that you’ve earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in an eligible field
        • Gain acceptance into an approved alternative teacher education program
        • Complete program and exams
      • Alternative Post-Secondary Experience (Pre-K-12): a nonrenewable, one-year, internship-based license that enables experienced, post-secondary teachers to teach at the K-12 level and earn a Level 2 or Level 3 license if the following requirements are met:
        • Demonstrate that you’ve received a master’s or doctoral degree in the teaching field
        • Show proof of registration in coursework on the teaching of reading and prove successful completion
        • Show documented experience teaching five or more years at the post-secondary level
        • Obtain Superintendent Recommendation Form for Post-Secondary Experience that shows you meet the required competencies for your license
      • Alternative Educator Effectiveness Pathway: a nonrenewable, two-year license for those with bachelor’s degrees in non-education subject areas to teach in a New Mexico School District under the mentorship and evaluation of the school district according to the Alternative Educator Effectiveness Pathway – Summative Report criteria and earn a Level 1 license if the following requirements are met:
        • Demonstrate that you’ve received a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in an eligible field
        • Provide a signed letter stating your interest to undergo the Alternative Educator Effectiveness Pathway
        • Provide a signed letter from a school district showing support for your participation in the pathway
        • Complete a program and earn minimum Summative Evaluation scores
        • Provide transcripts showing coursework
        • Pass teacher exams

If you’re interested in teaching special education in particular, a unique collaboration between Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation (ATF) helps provide a pathway to alternative licensure as well. Special Education Teacher Training (SETT) is a 15-month program that enables new teachers to co-teach with experienced teachers during their first semester of teaching while completing coursework for Pre-K-12 Specialty licensure.

Career and Technical Education Teacher Certification in New Mexico

If you’re interested in teaching vocational and technical subject matter—which falls outside what is considered traditional K-12 subject matter—the requirements to teach are quite different.

For the Secondary Vocational-Technical (7-12) license, you must submit the following:

      • $150 license fee
      • Initial application
      • Official transcripts showing that you’ve earned one of the following:
        1. A bachelor’s degree including 32 credit hours of vocational-technical training related to the occupational area
        2. An associate degree plus two years’ verified work experience related to the occupational area
        3. A certificate plus three years’ verified work experience related to the occupational area
        4. A high school diploma or GED plus five years’ verified work experience related to the occupational area

Once you’ve submitted the above materials, the state will issue you a Level 1P Secondary Vocational-Technical License for three years. During this time, you must complete either a minimum of 15 semester hours in a Secondary Vocational-Technical Education program and student teaching experience or a Professional Development Plan developed by the employer. Additionally, you must demonstrate that you have earned the competencies for vocational-technical teachers within three years of employment. After these requirements are met, you may be issued the remaining two years of your Level 1 license.

Teachers Moving to New Mexico from a Different State

If you are already a licensed teacher in another state and wish to move to New Mexico, you can reciprocate your license.  All nine teacher licenses require that you submit the following to obtain a reciprocal license:

      • $150 fee
      • Application
      • Official transcripts showing proof that you’ve earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited college or university
      • Copy of a valid teaching license from out of state
      • Verification of length of teaching experience
      • Copy of passing teacher exam scores, or a notarized statement indicating that an exam was not required

You can also earn an Out of State Licensure 1CS, a one-year provisional license if you have the above requirements but no teaching experience. Additionally, if you wish to obtain an elementary license, you must also show a passing score for the Teaching Reading: Elementary PRAXIS exam (as of Jan. 1, 2020).

Average Salaries and Projected Job Growth for New Mexico Teachers

According to the New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report, the national average salary for beginning teachers is over $38,617, whereas New Mexico’s average is lower at over $34,000. However, the cost of living in New Mexico is only 88.4% of the national average, meaning that a lower salary can go further in New Mexico.

Here’s a breakdown of salaries and expected job growth for several teacher jobs in the state:

Career 2018 Mean Salary Projected Job Growth for 2018-2028
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education $55,390 5%
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education $52, 810 5%
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education $55,380 5%
Post-secondary Teaching $70,407* Varies by content area

*Averaged from all post-secondary salaries
Salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020).
Job growth data from O*Net (2020).

Teacher Training Programs in New Mexico

To assist in your search for teaching programs in New Mexico, we’ve provided details on several programs below:

Western New Mexico University (Silver City)

WNMU has been offering teacher education since the school’s founding in 1893, and its early childhood degree and s­­­­­­­ervice offerings are renowned, including its Child Development Center Growing Tree and family counseling center.

The following degrees in education are available:

      • Certificate in early childhood education and family support
      • Associate of Arts (A.A.) in early childhood education and family support
      • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in education: early childhood care and education, physical education, and secondary education
      • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in education: early childhood care and education, elementary, physical education, secondary, and special education
      • Three Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) programs: an A.T. – Initial Licensure for students with bachelor’s degrees outside of education; an M.A.T. – Specialization, which is a graduate-level program for current teachers, with specializations in elementary, secondary, reading, or special education; and an M.A.T. – Alternative Licensure, a teacher training program for people with bachelor’s degrees who have no completed teacher education, available at the Silver City and Gallup campuses in elementary, secondary, and special education.

WNMU also offers three education minors and 12 teaching endorsements.

The university offers two Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) programs fully online (M.A.T. – Initial Licensure and M.A.T. – Specialization).

Tuition per credit hour:

      • Undergraduate New Mexico resident: $262.75
      • Undergraduate non-resident: $323.14
      • Graduate New Mexico resident: $275.62
      • Graduate non-resident: $340.77

Eastern New Mexico University (Portales)

ENMU’s College of Education and Technology adheres to a conceptual framework called Theory and Research for Effective Practices and Commitment (TREC). This vision refers to the importance it places on theory and research for teaching, addressing problems, and developing best practices.

This university offers the following degrees:

      • B.A. in education with elementary (K-8) and special education (pre-K-12) licensure
      • B.S. in education with elementary (K-8) and special education (pre-K-12) licensure
      • Master of Special Education (M.S.Ed.) with an emphasis on early childhood special education
      • Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a concentration in educational studies and focus on education administration
      • M.Ed. in school counseling
      • M.S.Ed. with an emphasis in general special education
      • M.Ed. with an emphasis in gifted education pedagogy
      • M.Ed. with a concentration in educational studies and focus on secondary education
      • M.Ed. with a concentration in educational studies and emphasis in special education pedagogy
      • Certificate for alternative licensure in secondary education
      • Certificate for alternative licensure in special education
      • ENMU also offers four endorsements in special interest areas, a minor in secondary and K-12 licensure, and a licensure-only program.

ENMU offers two fully online teacher education programs: an alternative licensure in special education (non-degree), and an M.Ed. with an emphasis in career and technical education.

Tuition per credit hour:

      • Undergraduate resident: $169.75
      • Undergraduate non-resident: $254.75
      • Graduate (resident and non-resident): $293.50

There is also an additional $17 per credit for online classes for both undergraduate and graduate students.

New Mexico Highlands University (Las Vegas)

NMHU is a public, state-run institution that began as a teacher college over a century ago. It boasts low tuition and small class sizes.

This school offers the following degrees and programs:

      • A.A. in early childhood multicultural education
      • B.A. in education
      • B.A. in special education
      • B.A. in early childhood multicultural education (birth-age 4, with licensure)
      • B.A. in early childhood multicultural education (age 3-third grade, with or without licensure)
      • B.A. in science for secondary teachers
      • B.A. in math and computer science for secondary school teachers
      • B.A. in elementary education
      • B.A. in special education
      • M.A. in curriculum and instruction
      • M.A. in educational leadership
      • Alternative teacher certificate program (non-degree)
      • Numerous minors and graduate certificates in a variety of education specialty areas

In addition, NMHU offers its alternative teacher certification program online.

Tuition (per credit hour):

      • Undergraduate resident: $185
      • Undergraduate non-resident: $363
      • Graduate resident: $213
      • Graduate non-resident: $389
      • Online alternative licensure program: $325

New Mexico Teacher Resources

      • New Mexico Public Education Department: This state agency oversees public education in the state, and its website provides career guidance and licensure information for aspiring teachers.
      • New Mexico Regional Education Application Placement (REAP): This state-run, national online recruitment and application service for educators was created to help the state’s schools identify and hire qualified applicants in a timely way, with one NMREAP application going to multiple districts at once.
      • NewMexicoKids.org: This site provided by the Children Youth & Families Department, Pulltogether.org, and the University of New Mexico features a variety of services and resources for educators and families. It includes information about childcare and professional development opportunities for those in early childhood education.


Additional Education Degree Schools in New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico University (Portales, NM)
NCATE accredited
Subject(s):
Career/Vocational, Curriculum/Instruction, ESL/TESOL, Instructional Technology, Reading/Literacy, School Counseling/Psychology, Special Ed
New Mexico Highlands University (Las Vegas, NM)
Subject(s):
Administration, Curriculum/Instruction, English/Language Arts, School Counseling/Psychology, Special Ed
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, NM)
New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)
NCATE accredited
Subject(s):
Administration, Curriculum/Instruction, ESL/TESOL, Foreign Languages, Instructional Technology, Phys Ed/Health, Reading/Literacy, School Counseling/Psychology, Science, Special Ed, Speech/Communications
University of New Mexico - Online (Albuquerque, NM)
Subject(s):
Administration, Art, Career/Vocational, Curriculum/Instruction, English/Language Arts, ESL/TESOL, History/Social Studies, Instructional Technology, Math, Phys Ed/Health, Reading/Literacy, School Counseling/Psychology, Science, Special Ed
University of Phoenix (Albuquerque, NM / Santa Fe, NM / Santa Teresa, NM)
Subject(s):
Administration, Adult/Higher Ed, Art, Curriculum/Instruction, English/Language Arts, Math, Reading/Literacy, Special Ed
University of the Southwest (Hobbs, NM)
Subject(s):
Administration, Curriculum/Instruction, ESL/TESOL, Reading/Literacy, School Counseling/Psychology, Special Ed
Western New Mexico University (Silver City, NM)
NCATE accredited
Subject(s):
Administration, Reading/Literacy, School Counseling/Psychology, Special Ed