What Jobs Can I Get in K-12 Art Education?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in K-12 art education. Read on to learn more about career options along with job responsibilities and salary information. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Career Options in K-12 Art Education?

Educating people about art can take many different forms. A classroom teacher inspires children to create and appreciate art at the elementary, high school, or postsecondary level, while museum curators may host groups of school students and guide them through art exhibits, creating an artistic and educational experience for them. Some artists illustrate textbooks that students use in the classroom and bring information to life in an artistic way. Other professionals may work as curriculum directors, designing art instruction programs that schools may incorporate into their yearly curriculum. Consider the following information before deciding which career is right for you.

Art Teacher Museum Curator Professional Artist Curriculum Director
Education Bachelor's Master's Bachelor's or master's helpful but not required Master's
Field of Study Art education Art history,
Archeology,
Museum studies
Art or studio art,
Art history,
Medical illustration
Education,
Curriculum instruction
Key ResponsibilitiesLesson planning,
Drawing and painting instruction,
Assess progress
Acquire and describe pieces,
Plan tours and public events
Illustrate manuals or textbooks,
Create visual representations,
Work with varied materials
Select textbooks,
Evaluate learning materials,
Develop programs for students
Licensure/Certification Teaching certification N/A N/A Teaching certification,
Education administrator certification
Median Salary (2014) $54,890 (elementary school)*
$55,860 (middle school)*
$57,200 (high school)*
$65,340 (postsecondary)*
$51,520* $46,460* $62,270*
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 6% (kindergarten & elementary school)*
6% (middle school)*
6% (high school)*
11% (postsecondary drama, art and music teachers)*
8%* 3%* 7%*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Art Teacher Do?

Similar to other types of teachers, art educators create lesson plans and assign work to students. As an art teacher, you might be responsible for teaching children and adolescents to draw, paint or create clay sculptures.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree and state licensure are required if you want to teach art in public schools (www.bls.gov). Many K-12 art teachers hold a bachelor's degree in art or art education; an exam leading to teaching licensure is usually offered through your state's board of education.

What Is the Job of a Museum Curator Like?

Because curators have a hand in selecting and putting together exhibitions at museums, a teacher's knowledge could come in handy. As a curator, you might be responsible for the acquisition of various collections and documents; you could provide descriptions for each item in a museum collection. Additional duties may include planning museum tours and public events, like lectures. The BLS notes that most museum curators are graduates of a master's degree program.

According to the BLS, there were 11,870 curators working in the United States in 2015. Many of those individuals earned between $13.67-$44.09 per hour. As you might expect, a large portion of curators - 6,500 - worked in museums, earning an average mean wage of $26.25 per hour. The federal government employed 350 curators in 2015; colleges and educational entities employed 1,880 during the same year.

How Could an Art Teacher Fare as a Professional Artist?

Many art teachers are also skilled artists. The Occupational Information Network, or O*Net Online, notes that artists use pen and ink or even computers to create their work (www.onetonline.org). Some artists use clay and other materials to create 3-dimensional sculptures.

You could use your skills in model creation and drawing to illustrate textbooks or manuals. As a scientific illustrator, you could specialize in illustrations of plants, animals, planets or geological formations in scientific textbooks. As a medical illustrator, you might create artistic renderings of the human anatomy.

In 2015, there were 12,240 fine artists and illustrators employed in the United States, though this does not include self-employed artists. Most of these artists and illustrators earned between $9.20-$47.66 per hour during that year, according to the BLS. California had the highest concentration of fine artists and illustrators in 2015, with 3,100 employed and earning a mean wage of $33.42 per hour.

What Is the Job of a Curriculum Director Like?

A curriculum director or instructional coordinator is partly responsible for evaluation and selection of textbooks for use in classrooms; as an art teacher, you may have that same responsibility. According to the BLS, you'll probably need a master's degree to work as a curriculum director, so additional schooling may be necessary. As a curriculum director, you might be responsible for helping teachers implement technology in the classroom or developing programs for students with special needs. You could focus on a specific subject, like art.

There were 139,460 instructional coordinators or curriculum directors employed in the United States in 2015, according to the BLS. The majority of those individuals earned between $17.28-$47.01 per hour, or $35,950-$97,770 annually, in 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You could also pursue a job as an art director. As an art director, which would require a bachelor's degree, you would guide and oversee the overall visual style of a company, organization, magazine, movie, or TV show. This includes making decisions regarding colors, designs, layouts, and the artistic theme. Another option is a job as a graphic designer, which also requires a bachelor's degree. Graphic designers use specialized software or create designs by hand on the behalf of companies, organizations, or individuals that are in need of designs for products or marketing materials.

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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