Become a Kindergarten Teacher in New Mexico

Prospective kindergarten teachers in New Mexico must satisfy the academic achievement and testing requirements set by the New Mexico Public Education Department in order to be licensed. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Becoming a Licensed New Mexico Kindergarten Teacher

New Mexico has a three-tiered licensing system for its educators. First-time applicants for licensure must satisfy certain requirements in order to start at the first tier. The general requirements for this license are summarized in the table below.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree
Exam Requirements NES Essential Academic test and NES Early Childhood Education (Age 3 - Age 8) test
Certification Renewal Period Five years (level 1 license)
Requirements for Renewal Level 1 license cannot be renewed; must be upgraded to level 2
Mean Salary (2018)$53,780 (kindergarten teachers in NM)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 7% (kindergarten and elementary school teachers nationally)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Academic Requirements for an Initial Teaching License

For the initial license, a prospective kindergarten teacher must have earned a bachelor's degree at a minimum in the area of early childhood education. This degree must have been earned from an accredited college or university and consisted of:

  • 45 semester hours in an early childhood education program
  • 15 semester hours that include 6 hours of practicum or supervised field experience and 9 hours of EC student teaching in the range of 3yrs old - 3rd grade
  • A minimum of 135 contact hours of practicum or supervised field experience with an age range other than 3yrs old - 3rd grade

Testing Requirements

All persons wishing to be educators in New Mexico must pass the National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic test. This test consists of three subtests in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. While the reading and mathematics subtests consist of multiple-choice questions, the writing subtest has multiple-choice questions as well as a written assignment. Kindergarten teachers must also pass the NES Early Childhood Education (Age 3 - Age 8) test. Candidates must specify which institution should receive their scores when registering for the tests.

Background Check Information

In order to be granted a license, prospective educators must receive background clearance by having their fingerprints checked against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) database. To initiate this process, the candidate must register on the Gemalto Information website and select licensure as the reason for the background check. The candidate must then pay the $44 fee and take her receipt to the nearest approved live scan location to have their fingerprints collected. Applicants who live outside of New Mexico will need to request a fingerprint packet by sending an email to ethics@state.nm.us.

Application Process

To apply for the license, the applicant must submit a packet containing the completed application form, official sealed transcripts, the results of the background check, as well as a cashier's check or money order for the $150 application fee. The application form can be downloaded from the New Mexico Public Education Department website. The college or university can also send the official transcripts by email to licensureunit@state.nm.us. The application packet must be submitted to:

Professional Licensure Bureau

300 Don Gaspar

Santa Fe, NM 87501

License Information

The initial license is valid for five years and cannot be renewed. The level 1 license will be upgraded to the level 2 license if the educator receives approval from the school district superintendent, achieves a grade of highly effective on their summative report, and has taught for at least three years on their level 1 license. The school district may grant educators a license extension if they have not taught for all five years of their level 1 license.

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