Become a Teacher in New Mexico

New Mexico Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary $58,410
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $54,590
Vacation Weeks per Year 15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 15.25
Expenditure per Pupil $9,734

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

Jerry Apodaca Education Building
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501

New Mexico Teacher Shortage Areas

  • Bilingual/TESOL (K–Grade 12)
  • Kindergarten
  • Mathematics (Grades 7–12)
  • Science (Grades 7–12)
  • Pre-School

Teacher Shortage information was provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listings for 2016–2017, and was determined by examining the most recent data about unfilled teaching positions; positions filled by teachers certified by irregular, provisional, temporary, or emergency certification; and teachers teaching in subject areas other than their area of preparation.

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in New Mexico

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 10/26/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of New Mexico, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit a New Mexico teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your New Mexico Teaching Credential

To earn your New Mexico teaching credential you will have to complete the appropriate amount of undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited teacher certification program. Learn more about getting your teaching credential on

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in New Mexico

All states require at least a bachelor’s degree to teach. New Mexico has the following additional requirements:

  • Elementary Education:
    • 30–36 credit hours in Elementary Education including student teaching
    • 6 credit hours of reading education
    • 24 credit hours in a specific content area
  • Middle-Level Education (Grades 5–9):
    • 30–36 credit hours in Middle-Level Education including student teaching
    • 3 credit hours of reading education
    • 24 credit hours in a specific content area
  • Secondary Education (Grades 7–12):
    • 24 credit hours in a Secondary Education program including student teaching
    • 3 credit hours of reading education
    • 24 credit hours in a specific content area, 12 of which must be upper-level classes

For more information on coursework requirements, visit the New Mexico Public Education Department homepage.

Step Two: New Mexico Teacher Certification Programs

Teacher certification programs can be taken online or on-site. They typically include an educational theory and classroom skills seminar and a fieldwork component of student teaching in the area.

Step Three: Required Tests for New Mexico

Most states require tests to show competency in basic skills as well as in the desired subject area. New Mexico requires the National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills Subtests I, II, and II: Reading, Writing, and Mathematics for basic skills, and the appropriate NES grade level tests, including the Assessment of Professional knowledge, to show subject area proficiency.

Read more about teacher certification tests on

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BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

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Alternative Teacher Certification in New Mexico

The New Mexico Public Education Department offers a 2-year Alternative License to allow for the completion of a program and required testing. To obtain the Alternative License you must have a bachelor’s degree, a letter of acceptance into an approved alternative teacher education program, and proof of registration for the NES Essential Academic Skills exam. New Mexico offers other alternative licensure programs as well, which are listed at TeachNM.

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Benefits of a Master's Degree in New Mexico

It is no longer enough to just have years of experience in teaching. After No Child Left Behind and other academic quantification measures, the careers of teachers increasingly depend on their results in the classroom. A master's degree in the field of education will give you more educational theory and classroom skills, as well as more hands-on student teaching experience with a mentor. After a master's program, you may be able to achieve better results in the classroom and have more job security and higher pay.

In the Albuquerque school district, teachers with a master’s degree can earn about $2,500 more than teachers with only a bachelor’s degree when they advance to Level II after 3 years, according to 2015–2016 data from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on  

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Certification Reciprocity in New Mexico

Interstate reciprocity is a program that allows teachers certified in one state to teach in another state. New Mexico has policies in place regarding out-of-state reciprocity. To find out which other state’s teaching licenses can be used in New Mexico, visit the reciprocity page. Or, for more specific questions about your situation, contact the New Mexico Department of Education.

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Financial Aid in New Mexico

New Mexico residents are eligible for the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship as well as the TEACH Grant, a grant that gives financial aid to students in return for an agreement to teach in a high-need field in a low-income area.

Learn more about how to finance your master's degree on

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New Mexico Teacher Salary and Incentives

The average elementary school teacher in New Mexico makes $58,410 per year, and the average secondary school teacher makes $54,590 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Mexico does not provide any additional pay for teaching in high-needs schools or shortage subjects. For more detailed information, the Department of Education publishes the salary schedules of selected school districts.

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

Learn more about teacher salaries on

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New Mexico Teacher Benefits and Retirement

The New Mexico Educational Retirement Board (NMERB) provides retirement benefits to teachers whose years of teaching service and age total 75 (for example, teachers with 20 years of experience at age 55), teachers who are at least 65 years old with at least 5 years of teaching service, and all teachers with at least 25 years of teaching service. Specific benefits, which depend on years of service, are explained in detail in the NMERB Member Handbook.

Learn more about benefits for teachers on

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Professional Development for Teachers in New Mexico

The Humanities Bureau of NMPED has partnered with College Board to create a series of professional development opportunities based on AP course workshops for New Mexico teachers. Additional professional development events vary by school and by district. New Mexico also has a program of mentorship for beginning teachers.

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New Mexico Teaching Jobs

New Mexico participates in the REAP program, a teacher recruitment website that makes it easy for teachers to find opportunities and job fairs.

Learn more about finding a teaching job on

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