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How to Become an Art Teacher

how to become an art teacher

Many people are interested in teaching Art but feel overwhelmed by the process of becoming a certified teacher. Interested in becoming an Art teacher but need help figuring out where to start? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll discuss what Art teachers do, how to become certified, and the skills you’ll need to be a successful teacher. We’ll also cover other topics, such as Art teachers’ salaries and how long it takes to become an Art teacher.

Teaching Art can be a rewarding, exciting, and long-lasting career. Teachers across all subjects are in high demand right now, so if you’ve been thinking about a career teaching Art, now is the time to do it!

What is an Art teacher?

An art teacher is a specialized instructor who teaches various art-related skills and topics such as drawing, painting, color theory, art history, and art appreciation. Art teachers can work in public, private, charter, or specialized schools such as Art or STEAM academies.

Types of Art Teachers

Art teachers can work in elementary, middle, or high schools. At the middle and high school levels, Art teachers sometimes teach more specialized courses such as photography, sculpture, graphic design, or other art-related skills. High school Art teachers may also teach advanced placement Art classes.

What does an Art teacher do?

Art teachers use state or district standards to plan and teach engaging and practical lessons. An art teacher’s job description also involves using appropriate assessment strategies to evaluate their students’ progress. Art teachers must also follow specific educational policies, such as providing accommodations for students who have IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) or those who receive 504 services.

How to become an Art teacher

The path to becoming an Art teacher is similar across most states and typically includes earning a bachelor’s degree, completing a teacher preparation program, and taking required certification exams.

Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in Art or an Art-related field

A bachelor’s degree is required to become a certified teacher. Many Art teachers choose to major in Art, Education, or an Art-related field. The following courses are often included in an Arts degree and will help prepare you to become an Art teacher:

  • Art History
  • Studio Art
  • Drawing
  • Art Appreciation
  • Graphic Design

Complete an approved educator preparation program

An educator preparation program includes courses specific to education and field experience in the classroom. Many colleges offer educator preparation programs. You must complete an educator preparation program for alternative certification if you have a bachelor’s degree. 240 Certification has a high-quality, state-approved alternative certification program!

Pass your state’s required testing and credentials

To become a certified Art teacher, you’ll likely need to take at least two certification exams: one for general teaching practices and another specific to Art. Depending on your state or district, you may also need to take additional exams that cover topics such as Essential Academic Skills.

Different states use different teacher certification exams. Many states use either Praxis or NES exams. Other states, such as Texas and California, use their exams like the TExES or CSET. Don’t make the mistake of assuming these exams will be easy! Many test takers are surprised at the difficulty level of their certification exams, even if they are well-versed in Art and have plenty of experience in Education. Exams that cover pedagogy and professional responsibilities can be particularly challenging. Be sure to use study guides, practice tests, and other free resources to familiarize yourself with the exam format, content, and style of questions.

After passing your certification tests, you’ll need to apply for certification in your state. This often requires you to pay a fee, complete paperwork, and do a background check. For additional information on applying for certification, check your state’s Department of Education website.

Apply for an Art teaching position.

Once you have completed your teacher preparation program and passed the required exams, it’s time to apply for jobs! One of the best places to look for teaching jobs is on each district’s employment website, but you can also find job listings on sites such as Indeed, SchoolSpring, or ZipRecruiter.

In some states or districts, you can apply for jobs and start teaching while you work towards your certification. In these cases, you will be hired under a probationary contract and have a specified time to pass your certification exam. (Note: You’ll still need a bachelor’s degree or higher in these cases.)

Tip: Start working as a substitute teacher while you work towards your degree or certification. School districts are often more likely to hire someone they’ve already become familiar with. 

Helpful Skills for Art Teachers

Successful Art teachers possess many of the following skills and traits:

  • Effective communication – Art teachers must communicate not only with students but also with other teachers, administrators, and parents. Successful teachers know how to communicate effectively with different audiences.
  • Creativity – Chances are, if you’re considering an art career, you are already a creative individual. Your creativity skills will help you plan engaging projects and lessons for your students.
  • Patience – Patience is a crucial trait for teachers of any subject or grade level. Working with children or young adults can be challenging at times, but with patience and understanding, it is an incredibly rewarding career.
  • Organization – Art teachers see many students daily. Some Art teachers at the elementary level may see every student for a week. Organization skills are vital for keeping accurate records of each student’s progress.
  • Collaboration – Art teachers often collaborate with teachers of other subjects to plan interdisciplinary units or projects. Be prepared to work with your fellow teachers for the benefit of all students.
  • Passion for Art – Above all else, Art teachers should have a contagious passion for the topics and skills they teach. Your passion for Art will inspire your students and lead them to a greater appreciation and love for Art.

Common career paths for Art Teachers

Many Art teachers choose to be classroom teachers for a large portion of their career, although they may move to different schools or teach different grade levels. Other Art teachers become department leaders or even Art curriculum writers. Curriculum writers may work within a school district or for outside curriculum companies.

Some Art teachers choose to teach at the college level. This typically requires a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. Others may teach Art at summer camps, local libraries, or community centers.

Art teacher salary and job outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for art teachers is $61,350 at the elementary level and $61,820 per year at the high school level. However, remember that this will vary greatly by different states and areas within each state. For example, Art teachers in large metropolitan areas of California make around $90,000 annually, while Art teachers in South Dakota have an average salary closer to $40,000.

The job outlook for Art teachers is promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that from 2021 to 2031, elementary and high school teacher positions will increase by 4% and 5%, respectively. This prediction includes Art teachers at the elementary and high school levels.

Art teacher FAQs

How long does it take to become an Art teacher?

This will vary based on several factors:

  • If you are just starting college, you must earn a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved educator preparation program, and take the required certification exams. From the start of college to passing your certification exams, you can expect this route to take about 4 – 6 years, depending on how quickly you earn your bachelor’s degree. Many colleges offer ways to complete an educator preparation program or student teaching internship while you complete your degree.
  • If you have a bachelor’s degree and work in another field, you must complete an alternative certification program and pass the required certification exams. 240 Certification has a high-quality, state-approved alternative certification program! Most alternative certification programs take between six months to two years. 
  • If you already teach another subject, you will likely need to register and take the required Art certification exams. This can be done quickly if you are adequately prepared for the exam.  Remember that while passing the Art certification exam will qualify you as a certified Art teacher, many schools may prefer candidates with specific Art knowledge or experience.

What is the salary range for Art teachers?

The salary range for Art teachers varies greatly based on your location and years of experience. Art teacher salaries can range from $33,000 to $93,000! The good news is that teacher pay scales can usually be found on a school district’s website, making it easy for you to decide which jobs meet your income requirements. Generally, you can expect to make more in states with a higher cost of living and larger metropolitan areas.

Most school districts determine salaries based on years of teaching experience, so your salary will increase slightly each year. If you’ve taught other subjects in the past, this should count towards your years of experience.

Can I teach Art without an Arts degree?

Yes! Many Art teachers have degrees in other subjects instead of Art. While an Arts degree will certainly help prepare you for a career as an Art teacher, it is not a requirement in most school districts. Many Art teachers, especially at the elementary level, have degrees in Education or a related field. Other Art teachers may have completely different types of degrees. The most important thing is that you have a bachelor’s degree or higher and are certified to teach Art in your state.

Are there benefits to earning a master’s degree?

Under some circumstances, having a master’s degree may be beneficial. Some schools, particularly specialized Fine Arts or STEAM academies, may prefer that their teachers have master’s degrees. Additionally, most school districts have a slightly higher salary for teachers with master’s degrees.

You may also want to consider a master’s degree if you would like to advance your career into other educational roles, such as a curriculum writer or a head of department. If this is the case, you may want to consider a master’s degree in an area outside of Art, such as a Masters’s in Curriculum and Instruction.

Before jumping into a master’s degree, consider the cost vs. benefit of doing so. While salaries are higher for those with master’s degrees, it is usually only a small difference. If you plan on being a classroom teacher for several years instead of moving into a new role, it may be best to hold off on a master’s degree.

What certification do I need to become an Art teacher?

The certification requirements for Art teachers vary by state but typically require a general teaching certification plus an art certification. For example, in Texas, you must pass the TExES Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC-12 and the TExES Art EC-12 to become a certified Art Teacher. You must take the FTCE General Knowledge, FTCE Professional Education, and FTCE Art K-12 in Florida.

Your college or alternative certification program will be able to direct you to the exams you need in your state. You can also check out our free test series resources for articles on common teacher exams and free practice tests for some of the exams you may need.

What other certifications can I get to advance my career?

Some schools prefer that their teachers be certified in other areas besides Art, such as working with students who speak other languages or students with special needs. These certifications require different exams depending on your state but often have exam names such as English to Speakers of Other Languages or Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications.

Interested in teaching a different subject? Check out these additional articles:
How to Become a History Teacher
How to Become an English Teacher
How to Become a Physical Education Teacher
How to Become a Math Teacher
How to Become a Science Teacher
How to Become a Music Teacher
How to Become an Elementary Education Teacher
How to Become a Substitute Teacher

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