Art Teacher: Job Outlook and Career Profile

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

A fine arts degree and a teacher's certificate is required to teach art in elementary, middle or high school. Postsecondary teachers need to have a master's degree, and some institutions may require a doctorate.

Essential Information

Art teachers spur students to unlock their creativity and express their thoughts, feelings and opinions through artistic means. Art teachers can teach students of all age groups or education levels. The employment projections for and salaries earned by art teachers vary by the types of students they instruct. All art teachers must hold, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree in a related field; graduate degrees are required to teach at the postsecondary level.

Required Education Bachelor of Fine Arts degree for elementary, middle and high school teachers; Master of Fine Arts degree for postsecondary instructors, if not a doctoral degree in their field of specialty
Other Requirements Teacher certification to be employed by public schools; one-year internships or student-teaching experiences are usually necessary
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for elementary, middle school and high school teachers; 13% for postsecondary teachers*
Median Salary (2015) $54,550 for kindergarten and elementary school teachers; $55,860 for middle school teachers; $57,200 for high school teachers; $72,470 for postsecondary teachers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide job outlook information for art teachers specifically; however, the Bureau does report that from 2014-2024, job opportunities for elementary, middle school and high school teachers are projected to rise by 6% (www.bls.gov). Postsecondary teachers should see faster-than-average 13% job growth during the same decade, according to the BLS. Most job openings will result from replacing teachers who will retire throughout the decade.

Due to the shortage of teachers in some locations, such as inner cities and rural areas, many states have policies in place to encourage individuals to enter the teaching profession. In turn, job opportunities in those areas will be best for teachers who are entering the profession or willing to relocate.

Salary Information

Information collected by the BLS shows that in 2015, postsecondary teachers earned an average annual salary of $72,470. The BLS does not extrapolate secondary or elementary teachers' salaries by subject taught, but in 2015, high school teachers of all subjects earned an average wage of $57,200 per year, according to BLS data. Middle school teachers saw an average yearly income of $55,860 that year, and kindergarten and elementary school teachers averaged an annual wage of $54,550.

Career Profile

The National Art Education Association (NAEA) says art signifies three things that everyone needs and wants: language, work and values. The NAEA states that art education arouses language about visual images and offers us the space to express ourselves. Art education entails teaching students how to express their feelings and thoughts about their world. Art teachers guide their students to develop their visual communication skills by producing various art forms.

Art teachers nurture students' artistic skills at the elementary, middle, high school and postsecondary levels. While doing so, they primarily work in public and private schools. They can also teach in adult art education programs and work in art museums as education coordinators.

Education Information

At a minimum, art teachers are generally required to have a Bachelor of Fine Arts or similar degree in addition to a teaching certification, in order to enter the career field. At the postsecondary level, teachers need to have a master's degree and possibly higher in some cases. Art teaching degrees can focus on one or more of the following art spheres:

  • Ceramics
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Media arts
  • Drawing
  • Photography
  • Graphic design

Upon graduation, many students complete a one-year internship in schools, equivalent to a first year of teaching. Public schools require licensure in art education before teachers may lead a classroom on their own.

The job growth rates for elementary, middle and high school teachers is expected to be stable through 2024. With a fine arts degree and a teacher's certificate, candidates can prepare to enter the field as an art teacher. Teaching art to postsecondary students requires a master's degree, and some employers may prefer a doctoral degree.

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