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How to Become an Art Teacher in California: Certification & Requirements

Get to know the academic requirements for becoming an art teacher in California and learn about the state's certification process, which is designed to ensure that your skills as an art teacher for children of all school ages are up to standard.

Info for California Art Teachers

To become an art teacher in California, you will need at least a bachelor's degree, preferably with a major in art. You will also need to have graduated from an art teacher preparation program, either as part of an undergraduate degree program or as a post-baccalaureate program. Certification (or credentialing, as it is called in California) involves a two-step process that can take anywhere from two to five years.

Education/Experience Required At least a bachelor's degree, preferably in visual arts
Completion of an accredited art teacher preparation program
Exam Requirements Basic skills exam
Art subject knowledge exam (depending on educational background)
Certification Renewal Period5 years for preliminary credential
CEU Credits Required for Renewal None necessary
Average Salary (May 2018)Kindergarten teacher - $69,690*
Elementary school teacher - $80,100*
Middle school teacher - $75,660*
Secondary school teacher - $80,510*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) Kindergarten teacher - 8%*
Elementary school teacher - 7%*
Middle school teacher - 8%*
Secondary school teacher - 8%*

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degree Requirements

To teach art in California, you will need at least a bachelor's degree. Although the certification requirements don't specify that the degree needs to be in art, you will have to demonstrate your subject knowledge of art as part of getting your teacher credentials. One way of demonstrating this knowledge is to earn a bachelor's degree with art as a major from one of the 15 state-approved art programs in California.

Teacher Training Requirements

In addition to earning your bachelor's degree, you will need to graduate from a state-approved art teacher preparation program. You can either take this as a standalone program after earning your bachelor's degree or as part of your art bachelor's degree program. As of May 2019, there are 55 art teacher preparation programs accredited by California. They should all include courses on health education, how to teach English language skills, and how to use technology and computers in education.

Exam Requirements

You will have to demonstrate to the credentialing commission that you possess certain basic skills in math and English by passing one of several exams available. If your bachelor's degree was not from a state-approved art program, you will also have to pass two California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) to demonstrate your knowledge of art and art education. You will be tested on topics such as theories of learning in art, creative expression, artistic perception, aesthetics, and the cultural context of the visual arts. If you didn't complete a course on the US Constitution as part of your degree program, you will also have to take an exam on it at an approved school.

Once you have met these requirements, you can apply for your five-year preliminary teaching credential.

Earning a Clear Credential

Within the five years of teaching with the preliminary credential, you must satisfy the requirements of the clear credential. You have two options for getting the clear credential. One is to undergo a teacher induction program that involves two years of teaching while an accredited program sponsor mentors and supports you. The other is to earn art teacher certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Credential Renewal

The preliminary credential expires after five years and cannot be renewed. The clear credential has to be renewed every five years. This process is done online, and there is no requirement to show professional development progress, such as getting CEU credits.