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.

Employment and Teacher Salary in New Mexico

The state of New Mexico is actively recruiting for new teachers who are certified in languages, math, science, or special education at the elementary or high school level. This need is due to statewide shortages in those subject areas. New public school teachers make $31,960 as an annual salary - an amount that increases every year with growing tenure and additional certification. Teachers should note that districts like Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Rio Rancho experience acute need.

Total Employed

9,210

Salary Range

$41,660 - $73,480

Elementary school teachers have a salary range between $41,660 to $73,480 a year in New Mexico. There are around nine thousand employed elementary school teachers. Read about what it takes to become an elementary school teacher.

Elementary School Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque3,260$45,170
Farmington740$47,560
Santa Fe610$56,580

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Elementary School Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2021)

Total Employed

230

Salary Range

$44,280 - $86,360

English teachers have a salary range between $44,280 to $86,360 a year in New Mexico, with over 230 employed in the state. See details on how to become an english teacher.

Total Employed

5,820

Salary Range

$41,150 - $70,790

As a high school teacher in New Mexico you can expect to make between $41,150 - $70,790. There are around five thousand employed high school teachers. Take the next step and learn to how to become a high school teacher.

High School Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque2,670$46,600
Las Cruces630$56,580
Farmington330$49,350
Santa Fe220$48,540

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for High School Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2031)

Total Employed

70

Salary Range

$52,120 - $96,790

In New Mexico, a history teacher's salary may range from $52,120 to $96,790. There are around seventy employed history teachers. Get more information about becoming a history teacher.

Total Employed

1,340

Salary Range

$37,350 - $67,100

Kindergarten teachers in New Mexico, can earn between $37,350 to $67,100 a year. There are around a thousand employed kindergarten teachers. Read about what it takes to become a kindergarten teacher.

Kindergarten Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque590$41,080
Santa Fe100$54,320
Farmington70$44,420

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Kindergarten Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2012)

Total Employed

20,210

Salary Range

$37,350 - $91,460

As a math teacher in New Mexico you can expect to make between $37,350 - $91,460. New Mexico is home to about twenty thousand math teachers. See our guide on how to become a math teacher.

Total Employed

1,000

Salary Range

$17,810 - $60,440

P.e. teachers have a salary range between $17,810 to $60,440 a year in New Mexico. New Mexico is home to about 1000 p.e. teachers. See our guide on how to become a p.e. teacher.

Coaches and Scouts
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque420$36,580
Las Cruces130$22,650
Farmington70$18,840
Santa Fe-$42,040

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Coaches and Scouts (SOC Code: 27-2022)

Total Employed

1,770

Salary Range

$20,390 - $44,760

In New Mexico, a preschool teacher's salary may range from $20,390 to $44,760, with over 1,770 employed in the state. See details on how to become a preschool teacher.

Preschool Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque700$26,090
Farmington200$27,380
Las Cruces190$24,500
Santa Fe130$31,870

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Preschool Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2011)

Total Employed

1,760

Salary Range

$32,190 - $99,670

As a school administrator in New Mexico you can expect to make between $32,190 - $99,670. New Mexico is home to about a thousand school administrators. Take the next step and learn to how to become a school administrator.

Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque120$49,220

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program (SOC Code: 11-9031)

Education Administrators, Elementary, Middle, and High School
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque520$73,130
Las Cruces180$76,950
Santa Fe140$75,320
Farmington80$73,370

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Education Administrators, Elementary, Middle, and High School (SOC Code: 11-9032)

Total Employed

1,640

Salary Range

$34,560 - $74,110

School counselors in New Mexico, can earn between $34,560 to $74,110 a year, with over 1,640 employed in the state. See our guide on how to become a school counselor.

Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque750$41,750
Las Cruces210$55,950
Farmington120$46,610
Santa Fe80$60,530

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors (SOC Code: 21-1012)

Total Employed

630

Salary Range

$39,560 - $72,780

School librarians have a salary range between $39,560 to $72,780 a year in New Mexico. New Mexico is home to about 630 school librarians. Read about what it takes to become a school librarian.

Librarians
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque240$48,580
Santa Fe60$47,580
Farmington40$54,970
Las Cruces40$55,200

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Librarians (SOC Code: 25-4021)

Total Employed

3,250

Salary Range

$39,900 - $85,830

In New Mexico, a special education teacher's salary may range from $39,900 to $85,830. New Mexico is home to about three thousand special education teachers. Interested in becoming a special education teacher?

Special Education Teachers (Kindergarten and Elementary School)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque650$44,550
Farmington130$49,020
Santa Fe90$68,190

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (Kindergarten and Elementary School) (SOC Code: 25-2052)

Special Education Teachers (Middle School)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque410$43,700
Farmington50$46,070
Santa Fe40$56,380
Las Cruces-$50,070

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (Middle School) (SOC Code: 25-2053)

Special Education Teachers (High School)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque590$46,390
Farmington60$47,470
Santa Fe50$66,840

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (High School) (SOC Code: 25-2054)

Total Employed

4,550

Salary Range

$17,280 - $27,300

In New Mexico, a substitute teacher's salary may range from $17,280 to $27,300. New Mexico is home to about four thousand substitute teachers. Read about what it takes to become a substitute teacher.

Substitute Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Santa Fe430$23,380
Farmington310$18,440
Albuquerque-$24,830
Las Cruces-$17,280

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Substitute Teachers (SOC Code: 25-3098)

Total Employed

7,940

Salary Range

$17,770 - $30,260

In New Mexico, a teaching assistant's salary may range from $17,770 to $30,260. There are around seven thousand employed teaching assistants. Interested in becoming a teaching assistant?

Teacher Assistants
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Albuquerque3,670$20,960
Las Cruces830$25,240
Farmington540$19,330
Santa Fe340$26,470

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Teacher Assistants (SOC Code: 25-9041)

Top School Districts Supporting Teachers in New Mexico

homepage_badge_topTeachers work hard every day and the more support they have the better they can succeed at inspiring our future. This is why Teacher.org has ranked school districts in New Mexico that excel in supporting teachers inside and outside of the classroom. 33 school districts in New Mexico were analyzed with the top 10 school districts being featured below. The school districts were scored on several factors which represent how well a school district supports their teachers.

For more information on school district rankings, see our methodology page: http://www.teacher.org/school-district-ranking-methodology.

Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 98.06
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 100
% Proficiency Score: 100

Serving the communities of Los Alamos and White Rock as well as surrounding unincorporated areas of Los Alamos County, New Mexico, the Los Alamos Public Schools District is a K - 12 school district employing more than 250 classroom teachers throughout its 7 schools. The district's elementary, middle and secondary schools are home to more than 3,500 students, who create a classroom ratio of about 14:1. Learn more by visiting the Los Alamos Public Schools District website at laschools.net.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 300 Total Support Staff
  • 77.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 82.92
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 69.84
% Proficiency Score: 73.38

Located in Torrance County directly south of Santa Fe, Moriarty-Edgewood School District has an enrollment of about 2,900 students, and employs over 150 classroom teachers throughout its 8 public elementary, middle and high schools. The student-teacher ratio is approximately 15:1, ensuring that the district is the choice of families seeking innovative educational experiences. Learn more by visiting the Moriarty-Edgewood Scool District website at mesd.us.

District Details
  • > 100 FTE Teachers
  • 2,000-3,000 Students
  • > 100 Total Support Staff
  • 57.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 82.19
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 59.16
% Proficiency Score: 79.92

Located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico in Sandoval County, Rio Rancho Public Schools is a K - 12 school district serving over 16,000 students in elementary, intermediate and secondary schools throughout the city. The district employs over 1,000 classroom teachers throughout its 19 schools, creating a student-teacher ratio of about 16:1. Rio Rancho teachers are proud to help children reach new academic heights every day. Learn more by visiting the Rio Rancho Public Schools website at rrps.net.

District Details
  • > 1,000 FTE Teachers
  • 10,000-25,000 Students
  • > 750 Total Support Staff
  • 62.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 80.29
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 66.87
% Proficiency Score: 71.54

Serving the communities of La Luz, Mountain Park, Holloman Air Force Base, High Rolls and Alamogordo, the Alamogordo Public Schools is a K - 12 district that employs over 350 classroom teachers to educate its more than 6,000 students. With a district ratio of about 17:1, Alamogordo staff and students do their best every day to embrace and encourage success. Learn more by visiting the Alamogordo Public Schools website at aps4kids.org.

District Details
  • > 300 FTE Teachers
  • 5000-10,000 Students
  • > 300 Total Support Staff
  • 55.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 79.29
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 71.86
% Proficiency Score: 65.13

Located in the eastern central portion of the state, Clovis Municipal School District is an integral part of Curry County, New Mexico. The district operates 19 elementary, intermediate and high schools, and enrols more than 8,500 students. With a staff of 500 teachers, the district reports a student-teacher ratio of about 17:1 ensuring that Clovis schools remain dedicated to providing exemplary learning in safe and supportive school environments. Learn more by visiting the Clovis Municipal School District website at clovis-schools.org.

District Details
  • > 500 FTE Teachers
  • 5000-10,000 Students
  • > 400 Total Support Staff
  • 50.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 92.03
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 67.52
% Proficiency Score: 56

Located west of Albuquerque, Grants-Cibola County Schools is a public K - 12 school district that serves more than 3,700 students in Bluewater, Cubero, Grants, Casa Blanca, Milan, San Rafael and Seboyeta as well as surrounding areas of Cibola County. The district employs over 250 classroom teachers, creating a ratio of about 15:1 in the classroom. Grants-Cibola staff are dedicated to building a person for life. Learn more by visiting the Grants-Cibola County Schools District website at gccs.cc.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 200 Total Support Staff
  • 43.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 87.02
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 65.62
% Proficiency Score: 61.38

With administrative offices in Sunland Park, the Gadsden Independent School District spans Dona Ana County and parts of Otero County; students from Anthony, Chaparral, Mesquite, Santa Teresa, Sunland Park and Vado are enrolled in the district's 22 public schools from preschool to grade 12. The district employs over 900 classroom teachers to educate more than 13,000 students, with a classroom ratio of about 15:1, Gadsden staff members ensure that all students will learn by putting education first. Learn more by visiting the Gadsden Independent Schools website at gisd.k12.nm.us.

District Details
  • > 500 FTE Teachers
  • 10,000-25,000 Students
  • > 500 Total Support Staff
  • 47.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 100
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 69.49
% Proficiency Score: 43.67

Located in Sandoval County, Bernalillo Public Schools District serves the students from preschool to grade 12 throughout the communities of Algodones, Bernalillo, Pena Blanca, Santo Domingo and surrounding rural areas. The school employs more than 200 teaching staff throughout its 10 schools to educate over 3,100 students, creating a ratio of about 14:1. Bernalillo school teachers are committed to student achievement and the graduation of all students. Learn more by visiting the Bernalillo Public Schools District website at bernalillo-schools.org.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 150 Total Support Staff
  • 34.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 91.47
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 51.3
% Proficiency Score: 66.33

Silver Consolidated Schools District is a public K - 12 district that operates 9 schools throughout the area. Serving the district's 3,000 students are schools in Cliff and Silver City, New Mexico. The district employs more than 150 classroom teachers and more than 200 additional staff members, ensuring that Silver students are prepared to be productive and responsible. Learn more by visiting the Silver City Consolidated School District website at silverschools.org.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 100 Total Support Staff
  • 51.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 89.19
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 59.32
% Proficiency Score: 60.5

Established in 1891, Albuquerque Public Schools District operates 163 elementary, middle and high schools throughout the city and surrounding Bernalillo County. The district employs more than 6,100 teachers to educate its more than 93,000 students from preschool to grade 12, reporting a student-teacher ratio of about 15:1. Albuquerque teachers and administrators are committed to teaching students life skills in a safe and supportive environment. Learn more by visiting the Albuquerque Public Schools website at aps.edu.

District Details
  • > 5,000 FTE Teachers
  • 50,000-100,000 Students
  • > 2,500 Total Support Staff
  • 47.0 Avg % Proficiency

Continued List of School Districts in New Mexico

RankingSchool DistrictSchoolsTeachersOverall Score
#11 Las Cruces Public Schools421,62868.24
#12 Portales Municipal Schools District619367.94
#13 Socorro Consolidated Schools District712767.7
#14 Taos Municipal Schools District1021567.41
#15 Belen Consolidated Schools District1127066.65
#16 Pojoaque Valley Public School District511166.39
#17 Roswell Independent School District2258866.3
#18 West Las Vegas Public Schools District1011266.16
#19 Espanola Municipal Schools District1526465.88
#20 Central Consolidated Schools1739265.87
#21 Carlsbad Municipal School District1437465.67
#22 Bloomfield Municipal Schools District718765.65
#23 Gallup-McKinley County Schools3782965.44
#24 Artesia Public Schools District1023664.98
#25 Santa Fe Public Schools3099164.92
#26 Lovington Public Schools District1021664.5
#27 Los Lunas Public Schools1646264.41
#28 Farmington Municipal Schools2073663.96
#29 Hobbs Municipal Schools District1852663.76
#30 Deming Public School District1134163.71
#31 Ruidoso Municipal Schools District512363.36
#32 Aztec Municipal Schools District720663.33
#33 Las Vegas City Public Schools District812061.9

Data obtained from the Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey