Learn How to Become a Principal, Superintendent, or Other Administrator in New Mexico with a Doctorate or Master’s in Educational Leadership

Written by Rebecca Turley

smiling administrator

New Mexico’s public education system is on the mend.

Mired for years by poor student outcomes, New Mexico has long struggled to create a PreK-12 school system that didn’t land the state somewhere near the bottom of any list that ranked public school education in the U.S. Criticized for its quality of education, graduation rates, achievement gaps between races, and much more, the Land of Enchantment has been anything but when it comes to its public education system.

But complacency here has been replaced with fortitude, and the state’s think tank, Think New Mexico, is making serious inroads and experiencing impressive gains. In short, Think New Mexico, which essentially serves as the state’s roadmap to success, has become an outstanding example of education reformation in action.

In the last few years alone, Think New Mexico has been the brains behind the state’s PreK expansion… its full-day kindergarten program… increased funding for principal pay and training… and funding measures to kickstart teacher residency programs. Their legislative agenda is full and showing no signs of slowing down, which is music to the ears of the state’s PreK-12 student population and to dedicated, motivated educators like you. In fact, there may be no better time than now to move forward with your career and, like Think New Mexico, turn your plans into action.

A move into a principal or superintendent role is in your sights, which means you’ll need to earn a master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree in education and administration. This next step in your career will allow you to continue to work for the same public school system where you first became a teacher while also allowing you to assume top-tier roles, earn a bigger paycheck, and effect positive change in new and different ways.

How to Become a Principal or Superintendent in New Mexico – School- and District-level Educational Leadership

To become a principal or superintendent in New Mexico, you’ll need to earn an Educational Administrator (PreK-12) License through the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED).

But first you’ll need to hold a current Level 2 or Level 3A Teacher License or a Level 2 or 3 Instructional Support Provider License.

Once you meet this requirement, you can begin taking the steps to become a principal or superintendent in New Mexico.

Step 1. Earn a Minimum of a Master’s Degree and Complete an Educational Administration Program

To become a principal or superintendent in New Mexico, you must earn a minimum of a master’s degree and complete an Educational Administration Program of at least 18 graduate hours. The program must also include an apprenticeship or internship of at least 180 clock hours.

Fortunately, there are many master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees available that include the coursework and practical requirements necessary for licensure. And many of these programs are offered in partially or fully online formats to accommodate the needs of busy, working educators like you.

These programs are often designed as:

New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico have partnered with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to create the MBA in Educational Leadership. You must be nominated by your school district to be considered for one of these highly selective fellowships.

If you’ve already earned a master’s degree, you can also meet the requirements for an Educational Administration License by completing a post-master’s certificate program in educational administration and leadership. These programs usually consist of about 18 credits and include the required 180-clock-hour apprenticeship or internship.

Step 2. Take and Pass the Praxis Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision Exam

Once you graduate from an approved master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree in educational administration, you’ll qualify to take the Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision (5411) Praxis exam, which is administered through Educational Testing Service (ETS).

This exam is designed to assess your knowledge in the following topics:

You’ll schedule to take the exam online or through a Prometric testing center near you.

Step 3. Apply for and Maintain an Educational Administrator License

You’ll first apply for an Initial Educational Administrator License (called a 3B License) by applying through the NMPED Online Licensure Portal.

This license is valid for a period of five years and is renewed upon completing a Renewal Application through the NMPED Online Licensure Portal and submitting a Superintendent’s Recommendation for Continuing Licensure.

School Principal Salary and Jobs in New Mexico

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school principals in New Mexico earned a median salary of $92,830 as of May 2022. The top earners in this field – likely those with the most experience – earned about $101,210 during this time.

The Farmington metro area reported one of the highest median salaries in the state, at $100,320, followed by the Las Cruces metro region, which reported a median salary of $98,230.

The Albuquerque metro region reported one of the highest top salaries for principals as of May 2022, at $102,900, followed by Santa Fe, which reported a top salary of about $101,980.

Superintendent Salary and Jobs in New Mexico

According to the BLS, superintendents in New Mexico earned about $125,700 as of May 2022.

Other average salaries for superintendents for New Mexico’s metro and nonmetro areas included:

Educational Leadership Degree Options in New Mexico: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership

Job growth for New Mexico’s principals and superintendents is strong, and continued growth is expected in the coming years. In fact, in the ten years leading up to 2030, the number of jobs for New Mexico’s educational administrators and leaders is projected to increase by 8.2 percent.

This equates to about 120 annual job openings for principals and superintendents due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.

A wide range of opportunities for New Mexico principals and superintendents means plenty of reasons to forge ahead and earn the master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree that will prepare you to become a principal or superintendent who can lead with confidence and help the state usher in a new era of public school education.

University of the Southwest

College of Education

University of the Southwest

MSE in Educational Leadership

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for education administrators, kindergarten through secondary. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2023.

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