Graphic Arts Teacher: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Graphic arts teachers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Graphic arts can be taught at the high school or college level, encouraging creativity and self-expression. To teach graphic arts at a public high school it is necessary to have a bachelor's degree and a state teaching license. Postsecondary instructors are required to have at least a master's degree in their field.

Essential Information

Those interested in becoming graphic arts teachers need to have a mind for creativity. College-level teachers in this field prepare students to become graphic designers and artists. Hands-on instruction is given by graphic arts teachers - which prepares students to use advanced computer programs and software. Whether it's at the high school or collegiate level, these instructors must be efficient with the newest graphic art technology. A bachelor's degree is required to teach at the high school level while a minimum of a master's is required for postsecondary teachers

Career High School Art Teacher Postsecondary Art Teacher
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Master's degree
Other Requirements State licensure for public school teachers required Must complete research or continue to produce work in order to achieve tenure
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (for high school teachers) 13% (for postsecondary teachers)
Mean Salary (2015)* $60,440 (for secondary school teachers) $71,060 (for postsecondary teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Secondary and postsecondary graphic arts classes are the stepping stone for prospective graphic artists and designers. For some students, this is where they will decide to pursue a career in graphic arts. Teachers foster creativity while providing hands-on instruction in art and graphic design using traditional drawing techniques and the industry's popular software, audiovisual materials and books.


High School Teachers

Middle and high school teachers specialize in specific subjects, such as art, music, science or English. At a high school without a specific graphic arts program, an art teacher may be able to incorporate graphic arts into his or her curriculum.

Giving career guidance to students at the secondary level is common practice for many instructors. They may also serve as homeroom teachers or study hall monitors. If an opportunity arises, a teacher may take students on a field trip to incorporate classroom learning with examples in the real world of design.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs for high school teachers will grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024. Additionally, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary for high school teachers was $60,440 as of May of 2015.

College Teachers

Many colleges and universities have graphic arts or graphic design programs connected to multimedia or arts departments. Graphic arts courses taught at the college level include multimedia design, web design and animation, typography, design principles, color theory, photography, graphic design fundamentals and drawing. Instructors create assignments and provide instruction, feedback and grades. They may teach at night or on weekends, as well as during the weekday.

Oftentimes, postsecondary faculty serve on their institution's academic committee and in various organizations. Such committees are often responsible for areas related to institutional policies, departmental affairs, equipment purchases and fund allocation. They also provide guidance on portfolios - a collection of work demonstrating a student's skills and experience, used for entrance into higher education or for obtaining employment.

The BLS predicts that jobs for postsecondary art teachers will increase by 13% between 2014 and 2024, and that the mean annual salary for postsecondary teachers was $71,060 in 2015.


Teachers must demonstrate creativity and attention to detail, both characteristics of a graphic artist. A familiarity of standard industry hard- and software is required, in addition to keeping up with upgrades and advancements. Because each student comes to class with his or her own ideas and suggestions, teachers must allow a certain amount of creativity without imposing their ideas onto students.


Graphic arts teachers must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree in graphic design or art to be able to teach at the secondary level. A master's degree is typically required to work as a graphic design professor at the college and university levels.

Certification and Licensure

Every State within the United States, including Washington, D.C., requires licensure of all public school teachers. Secondary instructors must become licensed in their specialty area. Teachers must maintain their credentials by completing continuing education courses and acquiring credits. Private school teachers are generally not obligated to become licensed; however, most employers require a bachelor's degree.

High school art teachers can incorporate graphic arts into their curriculum, while college instructors may teach subjects like multimedia design, typography, color theory, and drawing. While the expected job growth for high school teachers is as fast as average when compared to all occupations, postsecondary teachers will experience faster than average job growth of 13% from 2014-2024.

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