New Mexico Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in New Mexico

Teaching License Updated July 23, 2015

If you are considering a career as an educator in New Mexico, you should gather comprehensive information on the requirements needed to qualify. Doing so will help you weigh your options and make the smartest decisions.

Requirements for certified teachers in New Mexico

The New Mexico Public Education Department requires all candidates to complete a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. You must also complete a state-approved educator preparation program, including a student teaching requirement.

After completing the prerequisites, you must pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA). This exam series includes a general knowledge test which covers written communication, reading comprehension, and mathematics. The second part of the series — the New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Competency for Elementary, Secondary and Early Childhood specialty areas — will test the applicants’ pedagogical knowledge. Finally, the New Mexico Content Knowledge Assessment will determine your knowledge relevant to the subject area and grade you wish to teach. Overall, there are 24 tests for different levels and specialization areas.

The NMTA is required for all teachers who want to be licensed in the state. All applicants must pass a fingerprint background check. If you have an FBI clearance report, which is current within two years, you may submit that in lieu of fingerprint cards.

New Mexico teaching certification must be renewed every one to five years depending on the type of license held. Teachers who are active and inactive in service have different renewal requirements and fees.

New Mexico jobs for licensed teachers

New Mexico has several types of teaching certificates available depending on your level of experience and other factors.

  1. Level I: You are a newly licensed teacher who completed an education degree from an accredited school and passed the NMTA.
  2. Level II: You have completed three years of successful teaching under a Level I license, including a formal mentoring program.
  3. Level III: You have completed three years of successful teaching under a Level II license and have completed a career advancement program, such as a master’s degree or advanced certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. You have had performance evaluations and mentoring for professional development.
  4. Alternative: You have obtained a bachelor’s degree in non-education field with 30 semester hours or a master’s degree in the same area. You have also passed the New Mexico Teacher Assessments. Additionally, you have passed the appropriate New Mexico Content Teachers Assessments. Most importantly, you have completed an accredited alternative program from an approved New Mexico university or college. You have also finished the Online Portfolio Alternative Licensure.
  5. Endorsements: You are a New Mexico certified teacher who wants to teach additional subjects.
  6. Renewal: You are a certified teacher in New Mexico and complied with the conditions for renewal for continuous service.
  7. Substitute: You can obtain a temporary license to teach in New Mexico as a day-to-day substitute teacher. The requirements may vary with every area and level.
  8. Career and Technical Education: You have obtained a degree in another field such as information technology, health science and business administration.
  9. Authorizations: You are capable of teaching special skills or have obtained a temporary teaching license in New Mexico. Areas covered include speech pathology and literacy instruction.

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for New Mexico for the 2015-2016 school year:

  • Bilingual (Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Kindergarten
  • Mathematics
  • Science (Grades 7 – 12)

A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in New Mexico

Licensed teachers from other states are eligible to teach in New Mexico once they have passed the NMTA for Basic Skills, Teacher Competency, and the Content Knowledge Assessment in the subject matter area(s) to which they are applying to teach.

In addition, teachers who are certified to teach in other states and want to become certified to teach in New Mexico must:

  1. Possess a bachelor’s and/or a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  2. Possess a current valid and standard certificate/license from another state or country
  3. Provide a transcript or other proof of having completed an approved teacher education program
  4. Provide proof of passage of a teacher competency exam for that out-of-state/country certificate or license, and provide evidence of having satisfactorily taught under that out-of-state certificate or license from the school and/or supervisor where you taught

More information about license reciprocity between states can be found at Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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