New Mexico currently suffers from severe teacher shortages, making life difficult for state officials but providing an opportunity for new teachers. According to a 2017 report in The Santa Fe New Mexican, more than 800 public school jobs remain unfilled, an increase of 60% over the previous year. The number of students interested in pursuing a teaching career dropped by more than a third between 2010 and 2015.
The number of students interested in pursuing a teaching career dropped by more than a third between 2010 and 2015.
Plenty of positions in New Mexico remain available for anyone interested in becoming a teacher. The state boasts several on-campus and online teacher preparation programs that make it easy to begin the certification process. Online colleges and universities accommodate the schedules of working professionals. Residencies are scheduled in the summer so teachers can attend without their work being impacted. New Mexico is home to a variety of internet-based programs, including early childhood and post-secondary options, and you can find a list of programs at TeachNM.org. Even if you take advantage of an online program outside the state, it's easy to meet New Mexico's teaching license requirements.
How to Become a Teacher in New Mexico
Teacher licensing policies differ state by state, and New Mexico’s process is more complex than many other places. In most states, one or two licenses cover all forms of teaching. New Mexico maintains eight classes of teaching licenses: early childhood, elementary, middle level, secondary, secondary vocational-technical, special education, Pre-K-12 specialty, and blind and visually impaired. Twenty-four more licenses cover administrators, support personnel, substitutes, coaches, and other positions in schools.
The state maintains two pathways to becoming a teacher: the traditional and alternative routes. The traditional route is to attend a New Mexico college or university, earn a degree in education, and apply for a license. The alternative route is to graduate with a degree in a field other than education and fulfill any outstanding requirements. Teachers from other states who relocate to New Mexico must also acquire a license; teacher licenses do not automatically transfer. However, the New Mexico Department of Education streamlined the process, thanks to interstate teacher reciprocity agreements, making it fairly simple to make the switch.
Most states require at least a bachelor’s degree to become a licensed teacher, and this is also true in New Mexico. To work in the classroom as a teacher, you need a four-year degree, ideally from a teacher-preparation program; that’s the simplest and most straightforward route to earning New Mexico teaching credentials. The state does allow an alternative pathway, which permits individuals who graduate with a degree in another discipline to also teach. However, the state’s Public Education Department (PED) does not consider an associate degree sufficient to qualify as a licensed teacher. A two-year degree does qualify you to work in a preschool or as a paraeducator under the direct supervision of a licensed teacher.
New Mexico’s PED recognizes that it faces classroom shortages across the state, and that many districts struggle to fill open teaching positions.
Student teaching is required to earn a degree; future educators learn the trade from experienced educator/mentors. Each of the state’s different teaching licenses has its own demands. Requirements at the elementary level include 30 semester hours in a bachelor’s program, 24 hours of student teaching in any field, and six hours of teaching reading. Once you meet these requirements, you’re qualified to sit for the state’s battery of teacher assessment exams. The University of New Mexico College of Education maintains TeachNM, a site with everything you need to know about teaching in the state, including a list of state-approved teaching programs.
New Mexico’s PED recognizes that it faces classroom shortages across the state, and that many districts struggle to fill open teaching positions. The alternative pathway allows professionals with a bachelor's in a non-teaching discipline to teach with a temporary internship license. They can then apply for licensure based on their portfolio or take additional coursework and pass required tests.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in New Mexico
Associate Degree in Teaching
|English Composition||Every associate degree includes this required college class. Students learn to write effectively and study the basics of rhetoric, essay structure, style, and grammar.|
|Foundations of Education||This three-credit course teaches students how people learn. Students explore human development, the way our brains acquire information, and American educational traditions.|
|Strategies for a Successful Classroom||The basics of pedagogy form the core of this class, which includes classroom management techniques. Additional topics feature course layout, accommodating learning styles, behavioral issues, and effective communication.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Computers in the Classroom||Students explore effective ways to integrate technology into the modern classroom. Many schools use tablets, laptops, and smart boards, and this course introduces participants to best practices when using these tools.|
|Introduction to the Exceptional Child||Future teachers study the best ways to work with children with diverse abilities. The class introduces creative teaching methods and dispels myths and assumptions about exceptional learners.|
|Field-Based Teacher Preparation Experience||This course combines in-classroom observation — watching a professional teacher at work in front of a classroom — with a seminar. Students discuss teaching methods, curriculum, instruction, and ideas of pedagogy.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Principles of Curriculum Development||Aspiring teachers learn to assemble their course of study. Topics cover the theoretical and practical aspects of planning a course, as well as methods to meet state requirements.|
|Data-Driven Instructional Leadership||This course examines the use of standardized test scores and classroom performance data to improve instruction. Degree candidates study ways to meet standard requirements and deliver compelling material that maximizes the potential of students.|
|Advanced Field Experience||Aspiring educators spend a semester in a classroom assisting the teacher. They participate in all facets of teaching, including class planning and preparation, group instruction, one-on-one work with students, grading submitted work, and attending meetings.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in New Mexico
Once you’ve fulfilled your educational requirements, you must apply for licensure. The state licenses teachers differently at each level of teaching, but the policies for most are similar.
All teachers, no matter where they work in the state, must pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessment tests, a series of exams administered by Pearson Education. Each license requires different tests; however, all licenses begin with the Essential Academic Skills tests, which is a National Evaluation Series (NES) exam. NES exams align to national standards and make it easier for teachers to transfer their licenses out-of-state.
Teachers must then complete the Assessment of Professional Knowledge exam,and a content knowledge assessment in their area of teaching. Some educators must complete additional assessments; for example, elementary school teachers sit for exams in elementary education and reading instruction.
Licensure candidates take these tests at state-approved test centers, which are located throughout New Mexico. Testing officials administer exams on computers, and students can register at any time during the year. Pricing varies per test. The Essential Academic Skills assessment splits into three parts, each of which is $50 by itself, $75 for two, or $100 for all three. Each of the exams takes about an hour.
The New Mexico Teacher Assessments site provides a wealth of resources to help prospective teachers successfully complete the required examinations. These include study guides, test frameworks, video tutorials, and practice tests. You can also register through the site and find answers to most test-related questions.
The initial license costs a New Mexico teacher $125 and is valid for three years. Renewal requires a superintendent’s recommendation and an additional $95. Teachers from out-of-state applying for a reciprocating license must provide official educational transcripts, a copy of a valid teaching license, verification of experience, and copies of teacher test scores.
Choosing a Degree Program in New Mexico
New Mexico boasts an array of teaching programs, and you may find it difficult to select one. While there is an array of factors to consider, for many students the biggest issue is cost. One of the many benefits of internet-based education is that it is often less expensive than on-campus programs. The base tuition for many schools is less for online programs, and some offer non-residents the same tuition rates as residents. Additional savings often come from the lack of travel expenses and child care.
The base tuition for many schools is less for online programs, and some offer non-residents the same tuition rates as residents.
Other considerations include the location and length of the program. Does the setting of the school impact your ability to attend residencies or other on-campus sessions? What about student teaching requirements? Do they require travel, or can you complete them at a local school? And how long is each student-teaching assignment? Most bachelor’s degrees require at least four years of study, but some online schools provide the ability to finish quicker. Some universities also bundle baccalaureate and graduate studies together into master’s-in-five type programs.
You should also look into the specializations available; many online programs in education provide the opportunity to tailor your education. For example, you could enroll in an elementary education program and specialize in math. This sort of emphasis also makes it easier to pass New Mexico content-area exams.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in New Mexico?
Offered by some of the best colleges and universities, online programs have grown significantly over the past decade. They provide all the same benefits as their on-campus counterparts, with the added bonus of convenience. Many programs tailor their schedule to accommodate teachers, offering residencies in the summer and allowing students to add and subtract courses as their schedules permit. Schools do not make a distinction between virtual and brick and mortar degrees.
Aspiring educators must put in several semesters of student teaching to earn their New Mexico teaching credentials, and on-campus degrees can often make this easier. Many internet-based programs create workarounds for this and let teachers earn credit for working in their own districts.
Whichever program you select, make sure that it’s accredited by a reputable agency. Find a program accredited by an education-specific agency. These organizations include the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Accreditation Council.
Directory of Teaching Schools in New Mexico
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in New Mexico
Many schools encourage their students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to alleviate the cost of tuition. Filling out this government document helps clarify the benefits at your disposal.
Many other avenues to funding remain available to students. Prospective teachers can find scholarships, loans, grants, and tuition reimbursement programs to help them pay for their degree. Don’t make the assumption that it’s not worth your time to apply for scholarships because your grades don’t impress. Foundations and other fund-granting agencies often consider a variety of factors when making their funding decisions, including things like community service and leadership potential. Make sure to check loan forgiveness and tuition reimbursement programs offered to educators as well.
Loan Forgiveness for New Mexico Teachers
New Mexico currently suffers from a teacher shortage, especially in low-income and remote communities. To address this, state officials developed several strategies, including a loan forgiveness program. The state’s Higher Education Department provides teachers with funds for their education in exchange for work in schools that need the most help.
Teachers in the program earn their degree and license and then apply for help. Eligible applicants must live in New Mexico for at least a year and declare intent to work in an applicable school. HED gives preference to graduates of New Mexico’s public universities. Teachers sign a contract agreeing to work for two years in a school in a low-income area that’s not meeting state proficiency standards. The program then provides for the repayment of loans — both the principal and reasonable interest — teachers accrued while earning their degrees. Payments depend upon the teacher’s debt level, the availability of funds, and the need for teachers at the time.
The state ranks applicants by an array of criteria, including geographic location, grade-level and subject expertise, indebtedness, and current need levels. HED often gives preference to certain specialties, like special education, English as a second language, bilingual ability, and reading over other types of teachers.
Scholarships for New Mexico Teaching Students
Students often turn to scholarships, grants, and other forms of assistance to help with the rising costs of college. Foundations, corporations, and nonprofits award funds based on a variety of factors. They also often look kindly upon students pursuing a career in teaching. Several scholarships exist for prospective educators in New Mexico.
New Mexico T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship Varies
New Mexico Teacher Loan for Service Program $4,000
Gates Millennium Scholars Program Varies
Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Varies
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in New Mexico
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
New Mexico pays its teachers at a rate lower than the national mean wage for all teachers, but state officials continue to study ways to attract more people to the profession. According to a 2017 report in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the state raised the average starting salary for new teachers in recent years by more than 6% percent. It also offered stipends to help struggling school districts with salaries for hard-to-fill positions. The same report notes that the National Council on Teacher Quality, a District of Columbia-based nonprofit, gave the New Mexico Department of Education a grade of B for its success in attracting teachers from outside the state.
New Mexico teacher salaries differ by location. In some urban and suburban areas, salaries outpace those paid to teachers in small towns. In Santa Fe, teachers earn as much as 13% more than their counterparts in a smaller district, like Hobbs, according to figures by Salary.com. Certain hard-to-fill fields, like special education, offer higher rates than others.
The state’s severe teacher shortages will undoubtedly trigger more spending, which will provide graduates who earn online teaching degrees in New Mexico with more opportunities.
|Elementary School Teachers||$58,090|
|Middle School Teachers||$54,730|
|Secondary School Teachers||$53,920|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in New Mexico
How do I get certified to teach in New Mexico?
What is the average salary for a teacher in New Mexico?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in New Mexico?
Resources for Teachers in New Mexico
- TeachNM Supported by the Educator Quality Division at the New Mexico Public Education Department, TeachNM provides an array of career resources to prospective and practicing teachers. These include approved colleges and universities, licensure information, a mentorship program, and professional development opportunities. The site also features Teacher of the Year information, license reciprocity details, practice standards, resources for administrators, and listings of New Mexico teaching jobs.
- New Mexico Public Education Department The official site of the state’s department of education brims with helpful information for New Mexico teachers. Highlights include content standards, instructional materials, licensure specifications, school data, news, public notices, and links to a variety of other resources useful to teachers. Students, parents, and communities will also find great content.
- Teach Reach New Mexico State officials put together Teach Reach New Mexico to attract more teachers to the state. The site broadcasts what’s great about teaching in the state, featuring blogs by teachers, growth and recognition opportunities, and success stories of individual educators. Resources include virtual training sessions, assessment calendars, student and parent surveys, and tools for preparing reports.
- New Mexico Teacher Assessments NMTA provides teachers with everything they need for taking and passing the NMTA tests required for their New Mexico teaching certificate. The site makes available all the details of testing and answers frequent questions, lists where and when the tests are available, and gives options for alternative testing arrangements. It’s also full of preparation materials.
- NEA-New Mexico As New Mexico’s National Education Association affiliate, this organization advocates for teachers across the state and the nation. It fights for quality public education for all children and pushes for higher wages and improved conditions for teachers. The site features a variety of resources for educational activists, including legislative updates, tools for leaders, and professional development opportunities for teachers.