Become an Elementary Art Teacher in 5 Steps

Elementary art teachers don't just teach watercolor painting and ceramics; they show students how to think creatively and relate visual experience to other learning processes. To become an elementary art teacher, you'll need a four-year degree, preferably with an art education major. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is An Elementary Art Teacher?

Elementary art teachers develop a program and instruct elementary school students in art concepts and techniques. They need to be aware of what is age-appropriate for students in kindergarten through grade 5, and implement an appropriate curriculum. They may use painting, drawing, sculpting and other artistic mediums in their curriculum. Elementary art teachers must also monitor student progress, grade their work, and meet with parents when needed. They may also be involved in creating props or backdrops for school plays or special events.

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Field of Study Art education
Key Skills Ability to communicate effectively with children, artistic talent, patience, strong understanding of age-appropriate instructional techniques
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024) 6% (for all elementary school teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $54,890 (for all elementary school teachers)*

Step 1: Research Career Duties and Education

Elementary art teachers use classroom presentation, individual instruction, and hands-on training to help students engage in thinking patterns unique to visual arts and to connect art and other parts of the standard school curriculum. They also teach traditional skills such as drawing and modeling. Like classroom teachers, elementary art teachers plan lessons, evaluate student work, and try to maintain a positive, disciplined environment. However, rather than instructing one class in a variety of subjects, elementary art instructors teach one subject to a number of classes.

Elementary art teachers undergo training much like that of other elementary teachers. They must earn at least a bachelor's degree, complete teacher-education training and, if they work in a public school, attain state licensure.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Elementary teachers must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Aspiring elementary art teachers can choose to major in art while concurrently enrolled in a teacher-education program, which might entail a double major at some four-year schools. Other colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in art education that train students to teach and practice art, in part by emphasizing studio studies. Regardless of the degree path they choose, elementary art teaching candidates should complete teacher education courses, such as philosophy of education, psychology of learning, and teaching methods.

Step 3: Gain Teaching Experience

Student-teaching experience is required for licensure as an elementary school teacher, and most bachelor's-level teacher education programs include a student teaching component. These experiences typically last one semester or longer and provide aspiring teachers with in-class experience under the supervision of a classroom teacher and a university representative. Prospective elementary art teachers can gain additional experience with elementary-age students by volunteering, tutoring, or offering private art classes.

Step 4: Get Licensed

In all states and the District of Columbia, public school teachers must be licensed, usually through a state's board of education or licensure committee. Requirements vary by state but usually include a basic skills test covering reading, writing, grammar, and math, in addition to a subject-specific test. All states require candidates for licensure to complete supervised teaching practice and some require a minimum grade-point average.

Step 5: Apply for Jobs

A trained and licensed elementary art teacher should begin applying for jobs through the school district for which he or she would like to work. Job openings typically can be found through state employment divisions or education boards and on the websites of individual school districts.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Middle school and high school art teachers perform the same tasks as elementary art teachers, although they work with children of different ages. They are required to have a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate. Preschool teachers may only need an associate's degree, and they prepare a curriculum for students three to five years of age. They may also incorporate art into their programs. Childcare workers provide care and supervision for children while their parents are at work. They may also create a program and lead age-appropriate activities, including art. Childcare workers are not always required to have a degree, but they do need to have a high school diploma or GED.

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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