Art Teacher

Art teachers can be employed as self-enrichment instructors or more formally at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary levels. Read on to learn more about academic requirements, career prospects and potential salaries for art teachers.

Is Becoming an Art Teacher For Me?

Career Overview

Art teachers provide students with specialized instruction in elementary and high schools, as well as in colleges, universities and alternative settings. As an art teacher, you'll plan and implement hands-on lessons and projects to facilitate creative expression and help students develop an appreciation for the visual arts. Lesson topics and areas of specialization may include painting, drawing, photography and sculpture. As a college or university professor, you may also lead classes in art history.

Employment and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for self-enrichment teachers is projected to grow by an average rate of 14% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for a self-enrichment teacher was $40,680, as of May 2013. Employment opportunities for college and university teachers in general are expected to increase by 19% nationwide, or faster-than-average, through 2022. In May 2013, postsecondary art teachers had a mean annual salary of $72,630.

The BLS does not provide employment statistics specific to elementary and high school art teachers. However, it has projected a 6%, or slower-than-average, growth in jobs nationwide for high school teachers in general between 2012 and 2022; job outlook is expected to be average for elementary teachers during the same 10-year period. As of May 2013, elementary and high school teachers earned mean annual salaries of $56,320 and $58,260, respectively (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work as an Art Teacher?

Undergraduate Education

A Bachelor of Arts in Art Education is one way to prepare for a position in an elementary or high school. Depending on the program, your course load may include topics in art history, computer art, figure drawing and printmaking, among other disciplines. You'll also complete courses in teacher education, which can provide you with the opportunity to study American culture, instructional media, psychology and human development. An internship or student teaching assignment is usually required. After earning your degree, you'll also need to pass an exam in order to become a certified art teacher in your state.

Graduate Education

Master of Arts in Art Education programs are often designed for students who hold an initial teaching certification, as well as candidates for licensure with a bachelor's degree in art or a related field. Master's degree programs emphasize advanced instructional techniques and provide training in curriculum planning, research methods and creative development. If you're not already certified, you may have to complete a student teaching experience; most programs culminate in a thesis project.

Art educators interested in university research and teaching opportunities can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Art Education. As a doctoral student, you'll focus on the dissertation process, which involves researching and writing about an issue in art education. You'll then present your findings to a committee of faculty members.

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