How to Become a School Counselor in New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment is home to an estimated 2,095,428 people, about 17% of whom are school-aged. These young people need educational and emotional guidance from professionals. The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) issues two types of licenses for workers who want to fill this need: school counselor and school psychologist. While these professionals perform different functions in schools, both types of workers need graduate degrees to qualify for licensure. This guide will inform an aspiring professional on how to become a school counselor in New Mexico, including required degrees and exams.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in New Mexico

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in New Mexico here

Education and Experience Requirements

The New Mexico school counselor board requires candidates to take specific courses and complete internships before applying for their licenses. Furthermore, applicants must earn degrees from institutions with certain credentials. Below is a summary of these educational requirements, which can help prospective students choose qualifying school counselor programs.

Education and Coursework

School counselor candidates can qualify for licensure through three distinct paths. First, applicants can earn the national certified school counselor (NCSC) credential through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NBCC accepts candidates with master's degrees that include courses in all of the following: counseling consultation and program development; family counseling; counseling children, adolescents, and at-risk youth; addiction counseling; and counseling for trauma, abuse, and violence.

School psychologist candidates should earn master's or education specialist degrees from regionally accredited universities

Secondly, candidates may work as licensed professional counselors (LPCs) with at least six graduate credits in school counseling. This route requires students to earn master's degrees in counseling. Finally, a school counselor candidate may earn a master's degree from a regionally accredited university that includes at least 36 hours of school counseling classes.

School psychologist candidates should earn master's or education specialist degrees from regionally accredited universities. Qualifying programs should include 60 graduate credit hours in school psychology competencies that the PED approves. Applicants may also meet the state's requirement with doctoral degrees in psychology that include at least 12 credits in child-focused development, assessment, and intervention. A candidate with valid a New Mexico psychologist license can apply for the school psychologist license if their graduate degree includes at least 12 hours in child psychology.

Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:

Practicum and Internship

School counselor and psychologist candidates must complete internships or practicums during their graduate programs. The specific requirements will vary, depending on the path they choose. For example, a school counselor applicant who applies with a regionally accredited master's degree must complete a 300-hour internship within a school, and some school psychologist applicants must complete 600-hour practicums.

Application and Exam Requirements for New Mexico School Counselors

The PED's Professional License Bureau manages licensure for all education professionals, including school counselors and psychologists. In addition to the educational and internship requirements, New Mexico school counseling candidates should pass the appropriate exams.

School or guidance counselor applicants must pass the knowledge assessment in school counseling exam

School or guidance counselor applicants must pass the knowledge assessment in school counseling exam, which is a National Evaluation Series test. Candidates can take the computer-based exam at approved locations across the country by appointment. Applicants have three hours to answer 150 multiple-choice questions. The testing centers charge $95 for each attempt, and candidates receive their scores immediately following their tests. However, they do not send official scores to the PED until about two weeks after the exam. Candidates can take this exam no matter which educational pathway they choose for licensure.

Professionals who hold certificates from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) do not need further examination to qualify for the school psychologist license in New Mexico. However, other candidates must pass the Praxis school psychologist exam. This computer-based exam consists of 140 multiple-choice questions, which candidates get 140 minutes to answer. Praxis bases the questions on the curriculum that NASP sets. An applicant can take the test at one of many approved testing centers across the country.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

New Mexico does not maintain any reciprocity agreements with other states. School counselors who already work in other jurisdictions may transfer to New Mexico with relative ease, especially if they hold national credentials. For example, NCSCs only need to pass the knowledge assessment in school counseling test to qualify for school counselor licenses in New Mexico. Furthermore, school psychologist applicants with NASP certifications must only meet the education requirements for that license. Candidates for either license who do not have these certifications must submit applications that prove they meet all the same conditions as first-time licensure applicants.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

School counselor and school psychologist licenses expire every five years. Unlike many states, New Mexico does not require renewal applicants to earn continuing education credits. Instead, counselors must submit recommendation letters from their district superintendents. These letters should be on school letterhead.

School counselor and school psychologist licenses expire every five years in New Mexico

Renewal applicants must also submit applications on which they attest that they have not committed crimes. Finally, each renewal candidate should pay $95 for the application fee or $125 if they apply late. Some candidates receive one-year grace periods for their renewal applications. School counselors and psychologists can upgrade to different levels of licensure based on the number of school years they have worked.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in New Mexico

Certain resources can help a student learn how to become a guidance counselor in New Mexico, expand their professional networks, learn more about the profession, and pass the required examinations.

  • American Counseling Association This nationwide professional organization supports counseling professionals of all kinds, including school counselors and psychologists. Members can enjoy access to continuing education opportunities, publications, and job boards.
  • American School Counselor Association School counselors and students can join this professional organization for helpful resources like the online forum, continuing education courses, ethical guidelines, legislative advocacy, and the latest industry research.
  • iHire School Administrators This job board posts openings for all types of school administrators, including school counselors and psychologists. While the site includes jobs across the country, candidates can filter results by location.
  • National Board of Certified Counselors Candidates who earn NBCC certification do not need to meet many of the other requirements for school counselor licenses in New Mexico. Students can learn more about this certification and its requirements here.
  • New Mexico Counseling Association This statewide professional organization accepts all kinds of counseling professionals, including school counselors and counseling students. Members receive access to resources such as an exclusive job board and local networking events.
  • New Mexico Public Education Department The PED is the official state resource for all education professionals. School counselors can find applications, important forms, and further licensing information on the PED website.
  • New Mexico Teacher Assessments School counselor candidates can learn more about the required exam through the NMTA website. They can also find testing locations, register for the exam, and find test preparation materials.
  • School Counselor Magazine The ASCA publishes this magazine for school counselors across the country. Readers can find articles on the most timely topics in school counseling, as well as resources to use in their schools.
  • Teens Against Bullying Many school counselors spend much of their time focusing on anti-bullying initiatives. This website helps them create effective campaigns and stop bullying in their schools.

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