Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in New Mexico

New Mexico teachers are both licensed and endorsed. Teaching is a diverse profession; endorsements designate the educator’s teaching field(s). Some teachers hold one endorsement; others hold multiple.

The minimum requirement is generally a bachelor's degree, though New Mexico, like many states, does have provisions for individuals without bachelor's degrees to teach technical vocational courses in their fields (e.g. welding, health, agricultural education). New Mexico issues these licenses for graded 9-12 only.

New Mexico has a three tier licensing system. There is a statewide public system pay scale. Tier is tied to salary.

The distinctions are made partly on the basis of experience. There are some additional requirements.

Teaching Endorsements

Credentials are issued in the following categories:

  • Early childhood B-3
  • Elementary K-8
  • Middle level 5-9
  • Secondary 7-12
  • Specialty PreK-12
  • Special Education PreK-12

Educational Standards for Teacher Preparation

Traditional New Mexico educator preparation programs have several required components: professional education coursework, coursework in a subject area, and reading coursework. Generally speaking, prospective teachers can expect to have at least 24 credit hours of professional education and 24 credit hours in their subject area. Some categories require more than 24 credit hours of professional education coursework.

Reading coursework requirements are higher for elementary education, early childhood education, and special education teachers: six semester hours as opposed to three. The reading coursework requirement does not apply to those who entered college in the distant past.

An early childhood endorsement authorizes education of atypically and typically developing populations from birth through grade 3. The Licensure Bureau lists a somewhat unique set of requirements for this endorsement.

Elementary teachers are authorized to teach in self-contained classrooms and also teach in departmentalized settings through grade 8 provided that they meet subject area standards for subjects they will be teaching. The Licensure Bureau has provided information about meeting subject area requirements as Fully State Certified, a classification that has replaced Highly Qualified (

A person can achieve secondary or PreK-12 specialty credentialing with 24 credit hours of professional education and 24 hours in a teaching field (e.g. language arts or art).

New Mexico Teacher Assessment Process

New Mexico uses New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA). A prospective teacher can expect three to four assessments along the way.

The candidate will take an assessment of professional knowledge at the elementary or secondary level. PreK-12 and special education teachers will take the professional knowledge test at either the elementary or secondary level.

The other standard component is a subject area knowledge test. Individuals seeking initial licensure in secondary or PreK-12 fields will take a content knowledge assessment in their first field.

Elementary education candidates will also take the Essential Components of Elementary Reading Instruction exam.

The New Mexico Licensure Bureau has provided a summary of testing requirements by license category (

The NMTA assessment program is administered by Pearson Education. Pearson has provided additional information (

Alternative Teacher Programs

Alternative programs are for those who have completed bachelor's degrees but do not have traditional education degrees. They are designed to get well-qualified professionals into the classroom sooner – before they meet all their requirements. New Mexico has several alternative programs.

Both NMTEACH and the Alternative Educator Prep Program are designed for individuals who have significant amount of coursework in a teaching field. The amount will depend on degree level. For individuals whose degree is at the bachelor’s level, the expectation is 30 semester hours. The difference between these two alternatives is in the program requirements for completion.

The Alternative Educator Prep Program allows a person to teach while completing an approved university program. The list of New Mexico approved educator preparation programs shows a number specifically designated as alternative.

NMTEACH utilizes a state mentoring and evaluation system. Requirements for university coursework are significantly less.

New Mexico offers an additional method for individuals who have post-secondary teaching experience.

Teachers may add endorsements by completing additional preparation programs or by testing. However, not all endorsements can be added by testing alone. English as a second language and gifted endorsements require both a program and a test.

Additional requirements or restrictions may apply, based on current license.

Teachers who are licensed to teach other age groups may add middle grade endorsement based on experience teaching this grade band.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the New Mexico Public Education Department (

New Mexico mandates fingerprint-based background checks. Gemalto is the approved Livescan vendor. Applicants will find the ORI number on the NMPED website ( Out-of-state applicants can have fingerprints made on hard cards. They also have an approved vendor and a set of specific directions. Out-of-state applicants can request fingerprint packet

Out-of-state teachers will provide copies of their licenses. They will document program completion and experience. They will provide copies of exam scores or a statement that they weren't required. Out-of-state teachers will be placed at the tier appropriate to their experience and education. Tier 3A requires a master's degree as well as six years of experience.

Additional Information

New Mexico Teachers are credentialed by the New Mexico Public Education Department, Licensure Bureau. The Licensure Bureau can be reached at 505-827-1436. The Bureau has also provided an online contact form (