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Art History Teacher: Career and Salary Facts

Learn about a career as an art history teacher. Check out the education and licensing requirements, salary and job outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

What Does an Art History Teacher Do?

Art history teachers help students develop the analytical skill needed to understand and appreciate visual arts in a historical context. They also provide students with information and background to understand the development of different artistic styles, techniques and genres. Teaching jobs in art history are available at both the high school and college levels. High school art history teachers typically provide a broad overview of the field through a combination of lectures, textbook reading assignments and museum trips. They may also prepare students specifically for the standardized AP Art History test. At the college level, art history teachers may offer more specialized courses in particular areas of art history, such as Chinese art history, Baroque art, art history theory and history of photography. They are also usually expected to conduct academic research in a particular subfield of interest and publish their work in reputable academic journals.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know for this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree for secondary schools
Master's or doctoral degree for post-secondary institutions
Education Field of Study Art history, history
Key Skills Strong verbal and written communication, ability to foster discussion, Solid organizational skills
Licensure State license or certification for jobs in public high schools
Job Growth (2018-2028) 4% for all secondary school teachers
8% for postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers*
Average Salary (2018) $64,340 for all high school teachers
$82,560 for postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Art History Teachers

The level of education you'll need to teach art history could depend on whether you intend to teach at the high school or college level. Becoming a high school art history teacher requires you to earn at least a bachelor's degree in art history, complete a teacher education program and obtain a teaching license. You could achieve this objective through a double major or by enrolling in an education degree program with an art emphasis. Teaching at the postsecondary level requires a graduate degree, though you don't need state licensure.

In addition to your personal appreciation for art and its history, you'll need to learn how to analyze works of art both as individual pieces and as artifacts that reveal aspects of the social, cultural and political climate from which they emerged. Architecture, painting, drawing, photography and sculpture are among the art forms you could examine and teach. You'll also need a firm understanding of the major eras of art and its influences on cultures, governments and the world.

Job Duties

Like teachers of all subjects, classroom functions generally include preparing lesson plans, conducting lectures and demonstrations, leading discussions, assigning and grading homework, conducting examinations and evaluating student performance. Professional functions include meeting with colleagues to plan teaching methods or curriculum development and meeting with administrators to discuss school policy and disciplinary issues. Smaller secondary schools might also require you to participate in tutoring programs, lead student clubs or coach sports teams.

Potential Earnings and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the 2018 mean salaries for all secondary school teachers were $64,340, and the mean income for college-level art, drama and music teachers and professors was $82,560. Art teachers who made the highest wages taught at postsecondary schools in California, District of Columbia, and New York, among others, each averaging more than $99,000, according to BLS data.

The BLS anticipated an 8% increase in demand for art, drama and music professors at the college level between 2018 and 2028. The number of employed high school teachers was expected to increase by only 4% during that time, which is about average.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Individuals who are interested in art history may find jobs in museums, such as curators, conservators or museum technicians. These professionals need either a bachelor's or master's degree, and they are responsible for the design, exhibition and management of art collections in museums. Alternatively, aspiring educators may look for jobs teaching at the elementary or middle school level. Middle school teachers may focus on a particular area, such as history, while elementary school teachers usually provide more general education. Like high school teachers, those working at public elementary and middle schools must have a bachelor's degree and a teaching license.