Art Teacher: Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become an art teacher. Learn about the educational degree requirements, career outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Art Teacher Do?

As an art teacher, you will educate students while encouraging them to explore their creativity and develop fine-motor skills. You will introduce students to a variety of artistic mediums, such as pottery, painting, sketching, or even digital art. You may also teach students about famous pieces of art and art history in order to contextualize their budding art skills. Art teachers can be found at all levels of study, with post-secondary art teachers providing students with an in-depth education into art history and fine arts.

The following table presents information for this career at different levels:

Kindergarten Elementary School Middle School High School Post-Secondary School
Degree Required Bachelor's Bachelor's Bachelor's Bachelor's Master's
Education Field of Study Art education Art education Art education Art education Art education
Licensure Teaching license Teaching license Teaching license Teaching license N/A
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (all kindergarten teachers) 6% (all elementary school teachers) 6% (all middle school teachers) 6% (all high school teachers) 11% (post-secondary school art, drama and music teachers)
Median Salary (2015)* $51,640 (all kindergarten teachers) $54,890 (all elementary school teachers) $55,860 (all middle school teachers) $57,200 (all high school teachers) $65,340 (post-secondary art, drama, and music teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is an Art Teacher?

Many graduates of art education programs become art teachers in public or private schools, bringing the arts to students from preschool through college. As an art teacher, you must be able to demonstrate artistic skills in a variety of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional mediums and show that you have an understanding of developing arts technologies. Your career possibilities will vary a lot depending on your chosen area of expertise. For example, it's equally possible for you to teach pre-school students to finger paint as it is to teach undergraduate graphic design classes. As a graduate with an art education degree, you may also teach private lessons or offer art courses in non-academic settings, such as museums, community centers and even prisons.

Occupational Outlook for Art Teachers

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that approximately 3.6 million men and women were employed as teachers, from kindergarten through secondary school. This included both public and private schools. The BLS anticipated employment growth of 8% for all education, training, and library occupations in the 10-year period ending in 2024. The BLS predicted a job growth of 6% within the same time frame for teachers at all levels of study.

According to the BLS, in 2015, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and secondary school teachers earned median salaries of $51,640, $54,890, $55,860 and $57,200 respectively. Postsecondary art, drama and music teachers earned a median salary of $65,340. However, salaries can vary based on many factors, such as location and employer.

Education Requirements for an Art Teacher

If you would like to teach art at the kindergarten, elementary school, middle school or secondary school level you must earn at least a bachelor's degree in art education or a related discipline. A bachelor's degree in education with a concentration in art is another possibility. Some states require that you enter a 1-year professional development program in which you gain supervised teaching experience after earning your bachelor's degree. You'll also need a teaching license if you wish to work in a public school. To teach at the community college or university level, you'll most likely be required to hold a master's or doctoral degree in art education.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of careers that require similar skills to those of an art teacher. You could also work as a fine artist, creating original works of art to sell and display in galleries. Although employment is highly dependent on personal abilities and opportunities, most fine artists hold a bachelor's degree in art, fine arts or a related field. Another possibility is to become an art therapist and help people through their personal issues with the use of creative expression. These positions are only open to those who have earned a master's degree in art therapy, though a background in art is a good start.

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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