How to Become a Teacher in New Mexico

Teachers have the power to make our country's future brighter, one student at a time. With that said, New Mexico is dedicated to finding the best teachers. Every state has different steps to becoming a teacher. The following steps will help you become a licensed educator in the great state of New Mexico.

Choose What You Want to Teach

The first question you must ask yourself is what kind of teacher you want to become. Do you have a passion for a specific subject or subjects? If so, you should consider teaching middle school or high school. If you prefer to teach multiple subjects at a basic level, you should consider teaching elementary school. Some of the classes and tests you will be required to take will depend on which level you wish to teach. If you are still unsure, you can learn more about educators and schools in New Mexico by visiting the Department of Education website.

Complete Your Education Requirements for Teaching in New Mexico

To become a teacher in New Mexico, you will need at least a Bachelor's Degree. In addition, you must complete a teacher preparation program that is approved by the New Mexico Board of Education. While in the teacher preparation program, your studies will focus on the subjects or level you want to teach.

If you are just starting out on your college career, then you are likely to be enrolled in a blended or joint program. This means that the program you choose will likely provide you with both a Bachelor's Degree and a teacher preparation program. Contact a school representative or advisor if you do not have a Bachelor's degree yet, so that you can make sure to enter the correct program.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

In order to become a licensed teacher in New Mexico, you must complete a teacher preparation program.

These educator preparation programs usually consist of fieldwork and a set curriculum. Some of the classes you take will likely focus on pedagogy, instructional methods for teaching various subjects, differentiated instruction, technology integration, and more. The fieldwork component usually consists of classroom observations, student teaching, and/or internships. You will learn how to create and implement lesson plans in order to teach in a way that is highly effective for diverse student populations.

As mentioned earlier, if you decide to become a teacher early on in your college career, this step can be completed while you are working on coursework for your Bachelor's Degree.

If you already have a Bachelor's Degree in an unrelated field or have not yet completed a teacher preparation program, you can complete an alternate or post-baccalaureate program. The program must be accredited.

Alternative Teacher Certification in New Mexico

If the traditional path to licensure does not apply to your situation, you can take an alternative route to teacher licensure in New Mexico.

Alternative Licensure Program / Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL)

This state has two primary alternative pathways to licensure: complete a post-baccalaureate alternative licensure program or complete an Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL). These alternative routes typically allow candidates to teach on an intern license while continuing to work on their credential requirements.

Master's Degree

Another option is for individuals who are dedicated to switching careers into teaching. This is the Master's Degree route. Many colleges or universities offer post-baccalaureate alternative licensure programs that are blended with Master's Degree programs in education.

Pass the Required Tests for New Mexico

NMTA

Another important step one must complete before becoming a licensed teacher in New Mexico is to pass the New Mexico Teaching Assessments (NMTA). The NMTA are comprised of a Basic Skills examination and a Teacher Competency exam for elementary, secondary, or early childhood education.

Teaching candidates applying for initial teacher licensure or adding certain endorsements are required to take a Content Knowledge Assessment as well. Content Knowledge Tests offered in the state of New Mexico include:

  • Elementary Education
  • Special Education
  • Educational Administration
  • Reading
  • Language Arts
  • History
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Civics and Government
  • Math
  • Science
  • Modern & Classical Languages (Spanish, German, French)
  • Visual Arts
  • Music
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • Library Media, Family & Consumer Science
  • Physical Education
  • Health Education

Some universities or colleges may require you to pass all or some of these before entering or exiting a teacher preparation program. Talk to a program counselor or advisor in order to find out a school's specific requirements.

Apply for your New Mexico Teacher Certification/Teaching License

Application Requirements

In order to apply for your teaching license, you will need to submit the following to the New Mexico Department of Education:

  • Non-refundable application fee
  • Completed application form
  • Documents to support the application including passing test scores and official college transcripts
  • Completion of teacher education program
  • Background check must be processed by 3M Cogent. Here is more information on how to register for this.

Contact Information

New Mexico Public Education Department
Jerry Apodaca Education Building
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 827-5821

Find a Teaching Job in New Mexico

As soon as you have completed all of the required steps, you will be ready to start your career in teaching! You will be ready to impact the lives of children in New Mexico.

New Mexico Public Schools

The state of New Mexico is calling upon educators to consider what it will take to dramatically improve public education in New Mexico. Teacher candidates are encouraged to match their qualifications with the NMREAP online database for job postings in the state and submit their application package. Particularly in demand are teachers qualified to teach English, math, sciences, and special education.

New Mexico Teacher Unions

Public school teachers can join a union once hired. Organizations like AFT New Mexico and the National Education Association of New Mexico are strong advocates for teacher rights and educational reforms which make a critical difference in the classroom.

New Mexico Teacher Retirement Benefits

Finally, teachers who are ready to retire should be in contact with the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board. Pensions for teachers come through this agency whose mandate is to manage the retirement assets of the state's teachers.

New Mexico Private Schools

Some teacher candidates are looking for a slightly different work environment that the one offered in a public school. These teachers are encouraged to consider applying to New Mexico's private schools as well. Just over half of the state's private schools have religious affiliation, and on average, they boast a ratio of 7:1. The small class sized allow teachers to easily incorporate differentiated instruction into their daily lessons. A private school may or may not require teachers to hold proper certification, however candidates with teaching certification will be highly valued.

Teacher Shortage in New Mexico by Subjects or Discipline (2014-2015)

The following list of teacher shortage areas in New Mexico has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) list for the 2014-2015 school year

  • Bilingual
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Special Education

Number of Public School Teachers By Grade

The table below lists the number of public school teachers in New Mexico by grade level during the 2012-2013 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Pre-kindergarten & Preschool Teachers429
Kindergarten Teachers1,297
Elementary Teachers8,080
Middle & High School Teachers8,339
Ungraded Class Teachers4,056

Data obtained from the State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data 2013

Number of Private School Teachers By Grade

There are more than 160 private schools with an estimated 1,700 private school teachers in New Mexico. The table below details the number of teachers by grade level during the 2011-2012 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Elementary School Teachers808
Middle & High School Teachers201
Combined K-12 School Teachers724

Data obtained from the Private School Universe Survey (PSS) 2012

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Teacher professional development is an important part of the educational field. Teachers take their ongoing commitment to improving their practice and student achievement in classroom. Additionally, professional development helps teachers achieve their long-term career and salary goals. In addition to in-services, there are a number of ways to develop one's practice. Some of these include engaging in research projects, curriculum planning and development, and providing service as a mentor to new teachers. Teachers should ensure that their PD choices enhance subject matter knowledge, apply appropriate teaching techniques, enhance assessment methodologies, or provide tools to effectively manage individual student needs in a variety of classroom settings.

Professional Development in New Mexico

The Department of Education in New Mexico has created a Professional Development Dossier (PDD) to help teachers in the state advance through the 3-Tiered Licensure System. The Dossier requirements dictate professional development through 5 strands: instruction, student learning, professional learning, administrator verification, and evaluation. Teachers seeking more information are encouraged to contact the New Mexico Public Education Department Professional Development Bureau.

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