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Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in New Mexico

Early childhood educators in New Mexico are licensed to teach young children from birth to grade three, so becoming a preschool teacher in New Mexico will actually qualify you to work with students up to age 8.

According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, as of 2013 the average annual wage for New Mexico preschool teachers is $25,780. Experienced preschool teachers in New Mexico earn an average of $33,850 per year.

To learn how to become a preschool teacher in New Mexico, review these steps:

Complete a Degree in Early Childhood Education and an Educator Preparation Program
Pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessment Exams
Apply for Your New Mexico Preschool Teaching License
Maintain and Upgrade Your New Mexico Teaching License

 


 

Step 1. Complete a Degree in Early Childhood Education and an Educator Preparation Program

The New Mexico Department of Public Education provides a variety of routes you can take to achieve preschool teacher licensure, each combining education and experience:

Option 1: The Traditional route. The first route is the traditional educational route. You must earn a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, and earn 36 to 42 semester hours of credit in an approved Early Childhood Education program (a list of which may be found here). This program must include:

    • 18 to 30 semester hours of credit in a practicum/field experience in student teaching in one of the following age groups:
      • Birth through age 3
      • Age 3 through 5
      • Age 5 to 8

 

  • 150 contact hours of a practicum/field experience at one of the above-listed developmental stages other than the one you chose for student teaching
  • 6 semester hours of credit in teaching reading

Option 2: Work Experience. The second route allows you to become a preschool teacher through completing three years of verified work experience at an accredited childcare center, working with at least two of the age groups listed above.

Option 3: Alternative Licensure Program route. This route to becoming a preschool teacher is called the alternative licensure program route. If you choose this route, you will teach under an Internship License to gain experience while completing the licensure program and examination requirements. You must obtain one of the following degree options and complete 12 to 21 semester hours in a Public Education Department-approved alternative program (a list may be found here) that includes a course in teaching reading and student teaching:

  • Bachelor’s degree that includes 30 semester hours of early childhood courses
  • Master’s degree that includes 12 graduate hours of early childhood courses
  • Doctoral degree in early childhood

Option 4: The Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL) route. This route requires that you obtain one of the degrees in Option 4, submit a letter of interest in the OPAL program, register to take a 6 credit course in teaching reading, register to take the examinations listed in Step 2 below, teach for a year under an Internship License, and complete an online portfolio collected from your teaching experience that demonstrates your competency.

Option 5: The Post-Secondary Experienced Teacher route. This route requires that you have a master’s degree with 12 graduate hours in early childhood OR a doctoral degree in early childhood AND verify five years of post-secondary level teaching experience AND complete a 6 credit course in teaching reading AND teach for a full school year as the Teacher of Record for a classroom (under an Internship License) and demonstrate Level 2 teaching competencies.

New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department Child Care Provider Requirements

The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) license Child care centers in New Mexico. The CYFD has regulations for different types of childcare facilities and for the staff working there. All staff that work directly with children for more than 20 hours per week must obtain 24 hours of training each year. The training must include professionalism, assessment of children and programs, and learning environment/curriculum implementation. Additionally, new staff members that begin working in childcare centers must complete a 45-hour entry-level course or a three-credit college course in early childcare and education.

A director of a licensed childcare center in New Mexico must be at least 21 years old and meet one of the following combinations of professional preparation and experience:

  • Completed three associate degree level Early Childhood Program Administration courses

OR

  • Received any one of the following credentials in combination with two years of early childhood experience:
    • New Mexico One-Year Vocational Certificate
    • Associate of Arts of Associate of Applied Sciences in child development or early childhood education
    • New Mexico Early Childhood Program Administration Certificate
    • Child Care Professional certificate
    • Montessori teacher certification
    • Child Development Associate certificate
    • New Mexico Child Development Certificate
    • Provisional Associate Degree level Early Childhood Program Administration Certificate
    • National Administrator Credential

OR

  • Received Bachelor’s degree or higher in early childhood education/related field AND have one year of early childhood experience

 


 

Step 2. Pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessment Exams

New Mexico offers its own tests for prospective preschool teachers: the New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTAs). You must pass both basic skills and competency exams in order to become licensed as a preschool teacher in New Mexico.

Your basic skills test is called the New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Basic Skills. You must also pass the New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Competency in Early Childhood.

New Mexico does not require preschool teachers to pass a content-area examination for licensure.

If you are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, you need not pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessments to become a licensed preschool teacher in the state.

The NMTAs are offered in the following New Mexico cities:

  • Silver City
  • Santa Fe
  • Las Cruces
  • Hobbs
  • Gallup
  • Farmington
  • Clovis
  • Albuquerque

 


 

Step 3. Apply for Your New Mexico Preschool Teaching License

If you completed Option 1 or 2 above and are ready to apply for a teaching license, you must complete the Initial Application. Along with it, submit:

  • $125 application fee via cashier’s check or money order payable to the New Mexico Public Education Department
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Completed fingerprint background check packet with $75 processing fee via cashier’s check or money order payable to the New Mexico Public Education Department (contact Educator Ethics at ethics@state.nm.us or 505-827-6649 to obtain packet and instructions)
  • Copies of any other teaching licenses you hold

Mail all of the above to New Mexico Public Education Department, Professional Licensure Bureau, 300 Don Gaspar, Room 101, Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786.

If you completed Options 3, 4 or 5 above, you must submit the Internship License Application. Be sure to include the following with your completed application:

  • $125 application fee via cashier’s check or money order payable to the New Mexico Public Education Department
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Completed fingerprint background check packet with $75 processing fee via cashier’s check or money order payable to the New Mexico Public Education Department
  • Depending on your option, you must also include:
    • Option 3- your letter of acceptance into an alternative program/post-baccalaureate program
    • Option 4- a letter from you to the Director of Licensure requesting permission to take the OPAL route; proof that you have enrolled in a reading course, and proof that you have registered for the NMTAs
    • Option 5- verification of at least five years of post-secondary teaching experience

Mail all of the items to New Mexico Public Education Department, Professional Licensure Bureau, 300 Don Gaspar, Room 101, Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Regardless of your application type, processing times vary depending on what time of year you submit the application. If you submit your application from May to September, allow eight to 12 weeks to receive your license. If you submit it from October to April, processing should take one to four weeks.

 


 

Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your New Mexico Teaching License

Congratulations! You are now a licensed preschool teacher in New Mexico! You either have an Internship License or a Level 1 (Provisional) License. If you have an Internship License, it is valid for three years and not renewable. You will be instructed by your school district on how to obtain a Level 1 License.

Converting a Level 1 to a Level 2 License

Your Level 1 license is valid for five years and is not renewable. You will be given an application to upgrade when you are ready. To upgrade it to a Level 2 License, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Teach full-time for three years (at least 160 days per year)
  • Complete a Professional Development Dossier (PDD), illustrating how you have grown as a teacher and in professional development during the past three years. You must substantiate your experiences with data. Your PDD will be reviewed by two external reviewers (one of whom will be an Early Childhood teacher)

When you receive your Level 2 teaching license, it is valid for nine years.Renewing it requires using the online Same Level Licensure system or submitting the Application for New Mexico Continuing Licensure. Your school superintendent must submit a statement recommending your continued licensure.

Converting a Level 2 to a Level 3A License

If you are teaching under a Level 2 license in New Mexico and would like to upgrade to a Level 3A (also known as the instructional leader teaching license), you must teach full-time for three years (at least 160 days per year) under your Level 2 license and complete one of the following requirements:

  • Earn a master’s degree and submit a PDD,

OR

Your Level 3A license is valid for nine years, and can be renewed using the methods described above.


New Mexico Preschool Teacher Salaries

Preschool teacher salaries in New Mexico vary according to location, education and experience. Teachers with a bachelor’s degree earn more than those with just an associate’s degree and wages rise with experience.

The degrees held by preschool teachers in New Mexico were distributed as follows: (note that some teachers were employed prior to current license requirements):

Master’s degree – 3 percent
Bachelor’s degree – 21 percent
Associate’s degree – 22 percent
Some college – 25 percent
High school diploma – 19 percent
There were 1,640 actively employed preschool teachers in New Mexico in 2009. The Department of Workplace Solutions predicted that number would increase by 17 percent, adding 1,920 new jobs by 2022.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teacher salaries in New Mexico are close to the national average. Statewide, New Mexico preschool teacher salaries in 2012 were as follows:

Experience
Annual Salary
Entry-level
$18890
Average$
25780
Approx 10 years experience
$33850

According to the New Mexico Department of Workplace Solutions, the number of preschool teachers and associated salaries in different New Mexico cities were as follows as of 2009:

New Mexico City
Number of Preschool Teachers
Hourly median
Albuquerque
1000
$9.40
Farmington
NA
$9.10
Las Cruces
140
$14.90
Santa Fe
180
$13.60

For comparison, the U.S. Department of Labor also provides salary data for preschool teachers in New Mexico’s major cities. These figures were published in 2013:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albuquerque NM
700
26090
Farmington NM
200
27380
Las Cruces NM
190
24500
Santa Fe NM
130
31870
North and West Central New Mexico nonmetropolitan area
210
34810
Eastern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area
230
36060
Southwestern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area
100
26620

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