Education in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers plenty of opportunities for students who want to earn a degree, participate in job training, or earn other credentials that will improve their careers or job prospects. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are currently 52 colleges, trade schools, career training centers and universities in New Mexico. Here's how degree-granting colleges in New Mexico break down, by type:
- Public 4-year: 9
- Public 2-year: 21
- Private 4-year, nonprofit: 3
- Private 2-year, nonprofit: 0
- Private 4-year, for-profit: 10
In addition to degree-granting schools, the NCES also lists eight colleges in New Mexico that offer less-than-two-year degrees. Schools that fall into this category are mostly comprised of technical training centers, trade schools, non-accredited business schools, and beauty colleges. Instead of degrees, most programs that fit this description culminate in career certificates or diplomas instead.
Colleges and universities in New Mexico are the cornerstone of educational attainment in the state. According to a NCES report from 2014, federal and financial aid-eligible colleges and universities in New Mexico granted 27,786 degrees and certificates to 25,607 graduating students during the 2011-12 school year. While some colleges in New Mexico hosted modest numbers of students in 2014, others reported greater enrollment. Here are some of the total student enrollment numbers collected from the biggest, four-year colleges in New Mexico:
- Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus: 5,879
- Navajo Technical University: 2,075
- New Mexico Highlands University: 3,546
- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology: 2,127
- New Mexico State University - Main Campus: 15,829
- Northern New Mexico College: 1,371
- University of New Mexico - Main Campus: 27,844
- University of the Southwest: 1,009
- Western New Mexico University: 3,557
Online Education in New Mexico
Online education in New Mexico has come a long way in the last decade. As more and more students become interested in distance learning or hybrid options, the number of colleges in New Mexico who have begun to offer them has increased.
And the more schools that offer these programs, the better it is for students. With online degree programs, New Mexico students are able to earn a new degree or finish a degree they already started without having to relocate or commute. Meanwhile, thanks to online education, working adults can earn advanced degrees during evening and weekends while remaining in the workforce. And because you can earn online degrees from home with an internet connection, busy parents are also able to earn them during their spare time.
Several colleges and universities in New Mexico have been recognized on a national level for certain programs in their online catalogs. Here are a few of the most celebrated online degree programs offered by institutions in New Mexico, alongside their national rank as calculated by U.S. News and World Report:
University of New Mexico
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 122
- Best Online Bachelor's Programs (2015): No. 136
- Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) (2015): No. 77
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 112
New Mexico State University
- Best Online Bachelor's Programs (2015): No. 161
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 157
- Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs (2015): No. 65
While school rankings provide an excellent measure of a degree program's success, it's important to note that not all types of programs are judged in this format. Several community colleges in New Mexico offer online degrees and hybrid education options that weren't considered for these rankings. One example is Central New Mexico Community College, a school that offers a robust distance learning program for two-year students.
Top Jobs and Careers in New Mexico
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico's labor market was made up of 788,000 individuals who earned an mean annual wage of $42,230 in 2014. That said, some jobs in New Mexico are expected to see huge growth during the next decade, and feature higher-than-average pay. The following table features some of the top jobs and careers for New Mexico college graduates:
Why It's Hot
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Eastern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area, Albuquerque
Just like most careers in health care, the field of occupational therapy assisting in New Mexico is booming. According to U.S. Department of Labor predictions, job openings for occupational therapy assistants in New Mexico could increase by as much as 43 percent from 2012 to 2022.
For a job that starts with a two-year degree, occupational therapy assisting also offers exceptionally high pay. In 2014, occupational therapy assistants in New Mexico earned a mean annual wage of $56,480.
Compassion, attention to detail, physical stamina, excellent time management skills, communication skills, physical strength
According to the BLS, occupational therapy assistants need to earn an Associate degree from an accredited occupational therapy assisting program.
Students who hope to earn this degree should start by taking courses in science and human health, such as anatomy and physiology, biology, nutrition and psychology.
Interpreters and Translators
Because of the increased use of languages other than English in the Southwestern part of the United States, job openings for interpreters and translators could surge in the coming years. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for these workers could increase 42 percent in New Mexico from 2012 to 2022.
Interpreters and translators in New Mexico also earned $42,380 in 2014, which helps with this job's popularity.
Absolute fluency in at least two languages, compassion, cultural sensitivity, attention to detail, computer skills, business acumen, interpersonal skills, listening skills
Interpreters and translators can get started with a Bachelor's degree in nearly any field. However, a degree in English or a foreign language may be especially helpful.
Since the main requirement for this job is absolute fluency in at least two languages, some interpreters and translators may be hired without a degree.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces
Because of an overall demand for ultrasound technology as an alternative to more invasive procedures, jobs for diagnostic medical sonographers in New Mexico could increase by as much as 40 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Meanwhile, high pay and quick entry into the workforce have also helped boost the popularity of this career choice. Even though you can generally get started in a career as a diagnostic medical sonographer after earning a two-year degree, workers in this field earned an mean annual wage of $65,580 in New Mexico in 2014.
Manual dexterity, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, physical stamina, computer skills, technical skills
According to the BLS, most diagnostic medical sonographers earn an Associate degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. However, some students do opt for Bachelor's degrees instead.
Workers in related fields, such as radiation therapy, can also get started in this career with some on the job training.
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
Albuquerque, Santa Fe
Students looking for a fast-paced career in the hospitality industry should look no further than meeting, convention, and event planning. In this profession, workers create and design meaningful events for clients, using their own creativity and ideas to drive the process. Because of the demand in this field, job openings could be plentiful as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for meeting, convention, and event planners in New Mexico could increase by as much as 40 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Communication skills, composure, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, negotiation skills, organizational skills
Most meeting, convention and event planners need a bachelor's degree and some experience in the hospitality industry. While degrees in hospitality or tourism management are common, students often get started with a degree in a related field such as marketing, communications, public relations, or business.
Information Security Analysts
Albuquerque, Las Cruces
Just like many jobs in technology and computers, employment for information security analysts is expected to increase over time. U.S. employment predictions show that job openings for information security analysts could even increase by as much as 38 percent in New Mexico through 2022.
Meanwhile, high wages add to the allure of this career choice. As of 2014, information security analysts earned an mean annual wage of $93,040 in New Mexico.
Computer skills, technical skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills, written and verbal communication skills, attention to detail
According to the BLS, most information security analysts have a bachelor's degree in a computer or technology-related field. Common degree choices include Computer Science and Computer Programming.
Some employers prefer to hire candidates who also have an advanced degree. As the BLS notes, the Masters of Business Administration in Information Systems is a common path for these workers.
While pursuing any of the degrees we mentioned is no guarantee, most students are better off pursuing a targeted degree that makes sense with their desired career. Before you choose a degree program, make sure to research outcomes to ensure your degree choice could lead to an industry or career that fits your areas of interest.
Financial Aid in New Mexico
Another important factor to consider before choosing a school is how much it costs. Tuition can be highly irregular from school to school, and can depend a lot on factors such as location, your chosen major, and whether or not it is a private or public institution. Meanwhile, it also matters how long your degree program is expected to last. Obviously, four-year degree programs will be more expensive than two-year programs in the long run. It makes sense to run the numbers to get a full picture.
With that being said, it's fairly easy to research the average tuition figures in New Mexico and other states, plus how tuition prices have increased over the years. A 2014 report from the College Board shows how much average tuition has increased during the last decade. Here are the figures for colleges in New Mexico, sorted by school type (all figures in current dollars):
Public 2-year in-state
- 2004-05: $1,040
- 2014-15: $1,645
Public 4-year in-state
- 2004-05: $3,909
- 2014-15: $6,190
Private 4-year nonprofit
- 2004-05: $19,079
- 2014-15: $35,224
Even though the cost of college has increased over the years, it doesn't mean college can't be affordable. The fact is many students in New Mexico and beyond qualify for federal and/or state financial aid. In order to determine whether you qualify, you'll likely need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is commonly referred to as a FAFSA form. This form helps state and federal governments determine what type of aid you qualify for, and how much.
The New Mexico Higher Education Department also lists resources on its website that can be useful for students seeking financial aid. Details on specific scholarships and grants can be found, as well as how to apply. Included is a list of New Mexico grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs that may be of interest.
While some types of New Mexico financial aid doesn't need to be paid back, other types - including loans - will need to be repaid over time. Make sure to read the fine print on your financial aid package before accepting it.
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NM
- "Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators.htm
- "Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators.htm
- "Fastest Growing Occupations, New Mexico," CareerOneStop,http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu3&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=35&ShowAll=
- "Index of Grants, Loans, Scholarships and Work Study," New Mexico Higher Education Department, http://www.hed.state.nm.us/students/fa_quicklist.aspx
- "Information Security Analysts, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151122.htm
- "Information Security Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
- "Interpreters and Translators, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273091.htm
- "Interpreters and Translators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators.htm
- "May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2014, New Mexico," U.S. News and World Report, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nm.htm
- "Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm
- "Meeting, Convention and Event Planners, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131121.htm
- New Mexico Higher Education Department, http://www.hed.state.nm.us/
- "Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm
- "Occupational Therapy Assistants, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312011.htm
- "New Mexico State University, Online Programs," U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/new-mexico-state-university-main-campus-188030
- "Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12, Web Tables," U.S. Department of Education, March 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014033.pdf
- "Southwestern College, Online Programs," U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/southwestern-college-155900
- "Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time," The College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time
- "University of New Mexico, Online Programs," U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-new-mexico-main-campus-187985