School Counselor Licensure in New Mexico

New Mexico school counselors are licensed by the Professional Licensure Bureau, under the banner of the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED). The license authorizes service with students from pre-kindergarten through high school.

School counselors are classified as instructional support providers. They hold degrees at the master’s level. Initial licensure is also dependent on passing a competency examination and clearing a criminal background check. Continuing licensure requires superintendent recommendation; this requirement may be waived in cases where the licensee is not employed within the field.

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School Counselor Educational Requirements

There are multiple ways to meet New Mexico’s educational requirements ( The most direct is to complete a State-approved school counseling program. Professionals with counseling backgrounds will have an abbreviated path to licensure.

Completion of a School Counseling Program: Students may enroll in school counseling master's degree programs through regionally accredited universities.

The master's degree may be in a field other than school counseling if the candidate also pursues a 36 to 42 semester hour program in school counseling and completes a qualifying practicum in a school setting.

New Mexico school counseling programs are required to develop a specific set of competencies identified by the Department of Public Education. The prospective school counselor will learn how to do the following:

  • Put a comprehensive school level program into action
  • Coordinate guidance program activities
  • Provide information and facilitate student, parent, and staff activities
  • Provide counseling to individuals and groups
  • Act in a consultant role
  • Apply knowledge of diversity issues
  • Use technology to meet program goals
  • Uphold the standards of the profession

New Mexico school counseling programs include a minimum 300 practicum hours. Instruction in the development of comprehensive school counseling programs incorporates the standards of the American School Counseling Association. A complete description of competencies is found in New Mexico Administrative Code 6.63.6 (

Programs completed outside New Mexico are also subject to PED approval.

Counseling Education and Credentialing: A practitioner credentialed in New Mexico as a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC) is eligible for school counseling certification after completing just six semester hours of qualifying school counseling coursework.

The Public Education Department will also accept certification as a National Certified School Counselor by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as evidence that educational requirements have been met. An individual who has not yet been licensed as a school counselor, however, will need several years of work experience to achieve the school counseling credential ( The NCSC requires a graduate degree in counseling with fully 48 semester hours of qualifying coursework. There is an examination process. Candidates also compose professional practice statements.

Examination Requirements

School counseling candidates are required to pass a content examination. The newly adopted test is the National Evaluation Series (NES) School Counselor Examination; this replaces the New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA) School Counselor Examination (

The examination is computer-delivered and is available at Pearson VUE assessment centers in New Mexico and around the nation. Candidates must first schedule an appointment. Registration may be carried out online There is a $95 examination fee, which is generally paid by credit or debit card. Some college students will qualify for fee waivers ( Some individuals will have payment vouchers.

Candidates can purchase preparatory materials from the testing vendor (

Test takers receive their scaled scores immediately after testing, though the official score report will not follow until two weeks later. The minimum passing score is 220.

Scores are reported to the licensing agency (

The NES Program can be reached by email contact form ( or by telephone at 800-778-5315.

Background Check Requirements

The New Mexico PED requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks. In-state candidates must have Livescan prints made using the state's approved vendor, Cogent/3M. They will begin the process by registering with Cogent. This can be done online ( Those who do not have internet access may call 1-877-99N-MAPS to register.

Applicants may then go to their preferred site. There are Livescan sites throughout New Mexico; a person may click on a location on the online map to see hours of operation.

Although appointments are not required, the individual must show up with a registration number as well as a photo ID. PED will receive results electronically within a few days.

Out-of-state candidates may request fingerprint packets. They will need to email 'ethics at' .

The Application Process

Application forms are available on the Bureau of Licensure section of the Public Education Department website (

Applicants should submit official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions. These are to be included in the original application package.

The nonrefundable license application fee is currently $125. It may not be paid by personal check; application packages with personal checks are returned unprocessed.

Applications packages are to be sent to the Professional Licensure Bureau in Santa Fe.

Incomplete application packages are returned to the applicant for correction.

Between October and April, a complete application package can generally be processed in one to four weeks. Between May and September, average processing time increases to eight to twelve weeks.

Candidates who answer "yes" to legal questions will have their application materials reviewed by the Professional Ethics Bureau.

Out-of-State School Counselors

Although New Mexico does not grant direct reciprocity to school counselors, individuals can be licensed based on out-of-state programs if the programs are judged to meet PED standards.

Experienced professionals may also use their NBCC school counseling certification in place of direct evidence of having met educational standards.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available through the PED Bureau of Professional Licensure ( Individuals with questions about the licensing process may call 505-827-5821 or fill out the appropriate email contact form (

The New Mexico School Counselor Association is the state's professional organization (

New Mexico Professional Counselor license requirements.

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