Art Education Career and Degree Facts

Art educators typically need a bachelor's degree and licensure to teach in public schools at the elementary through secondary levels. Read on for more details about entering this career, including what you can learn in art education degree programs. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

All K-12 teachers must be licensed by their state to work in public schools, and the requirements for licensure are typically fulfilled through a formal degree program. Art teachers may work at the elementary, middle, or secondary level. They may also teach art at postsecondary schools, given their experience and level of education. Postsecondary teaching jobs typically do not require teaching licensure.

Degrees Bachelor's, Master's, and Ph.D. degrees in Education, Art Education or Art History, all of which may focus on a particular grade level; many of these degree programs coincide with the requirements for teacher licensing.
Courses Undergraduate courses may include drawing, ceramics, art history, and painting, while graduate courses may include more in-depth topics such as critical art theory and research techniques. At the doctorate level, you may expect to focus on a more specific genre or period of art, as well as intensive research to prepare you for a dissertation.
Median Salary (2017)* $57,160 (for elementary school teachers)
$57,720 (for middle school teachers)
$59,170 (for high school teachers)
$66,930 (for postsecondary art, drama and music teachers).

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Become Licensed to Teach?

Earning a bachelor's degree in art education can help qualify you to earn state licensure as a teacher. To teach at a public school in the U.S., you'll need to become licensed by your state. This process typically requires holding a bachelor's degree and completing teaching experience, in addition to other requirements that vary by state.

What Degree Program Should I Pursue?

Instead of majoring in art education, you might choose to enroll in a bachelor's degree program in art before completing a teaching certification program. You can earn state licensure in a variety of education levels, including early childhood, elementary, middle or secondary education. You may pursue a program that meets particular licensure requirements, such as elementary and secondary education.

What if I Already Have a Bachelor's Degree?

If you hold a bachelor's degree in art with no teaching credentials, you can complete a teacher certification program to qualify for licensure in your state in as little as one year. A master's degree program in art education may also help you gain the necessary credentials to teach. Some states could require you to obtain a master's degree within a certain amount of time after you begin teaching at the elementary and secondary levels. To educate at the college level, you can complete a master's degree in art education or art or earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in art history or art education.

What Courses Will I Take?

At the bachelor's degree level, you may be required to take educational courses in such subjects as materials and classroom management. The curriculum also requires you to complete a student teaching experience, in which you'll work in an art classroom supervised by a licensed teacher. The following topics may also be explored:

  • Drawing
  • 2D design
  • Painting
  • Ceramics
  • Art history
  • 3D design
  • Photography
  • Teaching methods
  • Curriculum development

What About Courses in a Graduate Program?

Master's degree programs in art education can include coursework in teaching theory and research techniques. A Ph.D. program can allow you to concentrate on the history of a variety of art. At the doctoral level, you can also take courses in research and analysis in preparation to write your dissertation. Here are a few topics to consider for your graduate curricula:

  • Teaching theory
  • Research techniques
  • Critical art theory
  • Contemporary art
  • Greek art
  • Roman art
  • Islamic art
  • Latin American art
  • Byzantine art

What About Certification Courses?

Teacher certification programs aim to meet the precise requirements of your state. If you don't have prior teaching experience, you may need to complete one or more internships in kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) settings. You might be covering these topics:

  • Educational theory
  • Art computer applications
  • Special needs education

What Online Options Can I Consider?

You may find online master's degree programs in art education. Primarily designed for current art teachers, these graduate programs cover both educational and artistic instruction. Most courses can be taken over the Internet, but some curricula include on-campus studio sessions, which could be scheduled in the summer. You can view lectures and submit assignments online, and you may interact with professors over chat, e-mail and message boards.

What Kind of Salary Can I Expect?

Teacher salaries vary depending on your degree level and the level at which you teach. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the elementary school teachers' median annual salary to be $57,160 as of May 2017, while secondary school teachers made $59,170 (www.bls.gov). Middle school teachers took home $57,720 in that same year. Meanwhile, the median annual salary for postsecondary teachers of art, drama and music was $66,930.

All teachers were expected to see employment growth due to the retirement rate of former teachers, and growth in college enrollment was predicted to increase opportunities for postsecondary teachers. According to the BLS, job growth for all teachers, although dependent upon grade level taught, is expected to grow anywhere from seven to 12 percent between 2016 and 2026.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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