Art Teacher: Educational Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an art teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Art teachers help students develop the ability to express themselves with various types of media. Public schools require their art teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree, licensure and practical experience. Requirements to teach in private schools vary. Teaching at the graduate level generally requires a graduate degree.

Required Education At least a bachelor's degree and practical experience
Other Requirements Licensure required for teaching art in public schools and frequently in other venues
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 16% for postsecondary art, music and drama teachers*; 12% for all elementary school teachers*
Average Salary (2014) $75,350 annually for postsecondary art, music and drama teachers*; $56,830 for all elementary school teachers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for Art Teachers

Most jobs for art teachers require the minimum of a bachelor's degree. Students may attend an art education program, which combines courses in the history, practice and theories of art with education courses that lead to certification. They may also choose to major in art while undergoing a teacher preparation program. Teacher preparation programs vary for elementary and secondary teachers but both include topics such as issues in education, behavior management and assessment techniques.

Teaching Internship

Most curricula include a capstone requirement of a student teaching internship. Student teaching places a student in a classroom, allowing them to lead class and make lesson plans under the supervision of an experienced art teacher. During the experience, students are evaluated by the supervising teacher on issues like classroom management, lesson planning and professionalism.

Master's Degree

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some states require teachers to earn a master's degree within a certain timeframe after they've begun teaching ( Students may earn a bachelor's degree in a subject area and proceed directly into a Master of Education program. Graduate programs, some of which are specific to art education, require advanced coursework and may offer a practicum or other work experiences. Students in general master's programs may use elective coursework on the subject they'll be teaching.

Licensing Requirements

The BLS reports that public school teachers must obtain licensure or certification in all 50 states and that requirements vary by state. Licensure may be based on the grade-level or the subject taught. Most states require prospective teachers to pass a basic skills exam and some states may administer subject-area exams. Teachers may maintain their licenses by meeting continuing education requirements.

Professional Certifications

While professional certification is not mandatory, it may lead to career advancement and a higher salary. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers the National Board Certification that is accepted nationally ( This certification is available in 25 subject areas, including art. To be eligible for NBPTS certification, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and a valid license, and they must have a minimum of three years of experience.

Career and Salary Information

According to the BLS, postsecondary music, drama and art teachers together made an average annual salary of $75,350 as of May 2014. All elementary school teachers made an average of $56,830 per year at that time. The BLS also estimated a 16% job growth for postsecondary art, music and drama teachers and a 12% growth for all elementary school teachers in the decade spanning 2012-2022.

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