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How to Become an Art Teacher: Step-by-Step Guide

Art teachers help students develop their artistic skills by cultivating creative expression and fostering an understanding of textures, shapes and colors. The majority of an art teacher's work entails guiding students through different projects in ceramics, sculpture and painting and other areas. Some also teach art history and introduce students to the works of master artists.

Should I Become an Art Teacher?

Potential art teachers must obtain a bachelor's degree in art or in art education to gain a solid background in color theory, design and painting as well as lesson planning, classroom management and teaching methods. Employment openings for art teachers can be found through local school boards, publications for educators and teachers' unions, as well as classified ads.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree.
Degree Field Art education or a degree in art with a teacher certification.
Experience Internships or volunteer positions may enhance professional prospects.
Licensure and Certification Requirements vary by state for public schools; private schools and community art programs may not require teachers to be certified.)
Key Skills Artistic skills including oil painting, watercolor, clay, charcoal; creativity; organizational; time-management
Median Salary $50,600 per year (for all kindergarten teachers)
$54,120 per year (for all elementary school teachers)
$54,940 per year (for all middle school teachers)
$56,310 per year (for all high school teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Develop a Range of Artistic Skills

Art teachers need to show proficiency in various styles and subjects. They should be able to demonstrate basic skills in oil painting, watercolor, clay, charcoal and other types of art mediums. Colleges and universities offer a variety of art courses in which students can explore their interests.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Traditionally, many aspiring art teachers complete a bachelor's degree program in art education. However, students can also become art teachers by obtaining a bachelor's degree in art and then completing a teacher education program. Many students concentrate in a specific art-related field, such as art history, graphic arts, painting or digital art. Accordingly, classes may differ, but generally cover topics in color theory, design and painting.

Step 3: Complete a Teacher Education Program

Bachelor's degree programs in art education generally include teacher education preparation programs so college students can earn their credentials and begin teaching after graduation. Teacher education programs typically require students to complete supplemental courses in lesson planning, classroom management and teaching methods. Additionally, students are assigned to teach at a school under the supervision of a licensed teacher. This allows them to apply learned methods and techniques, as well as gain teaching experience.

Step 4: Obtain a Teacher's Certification

The requirements for obtaining a teacher's certification vary by state, but most states only offer certification to applicants who have completed a formal education program. States also require that applicants pass basic skills tests in math and reading, in addition to demonstrating competency in art, media and design. Public schools hire only certified art teachers, while private schools and community art programs may not require teachers to be certified.

Step 5: Gain Experience Teaching

Completing an internship, volunteering as an art teacher for community children's programs or working as a substitute teacher may provide prospective art teachers with valuable teaching experience and networking opportunities. Employment openings for art teachers can be found through local school boards, publications for educators and teachers' unions, as well as classified ads.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov) predicts that kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teachers will experience a 12% hike in job growth between 2012 and 2022, while high school teachers will experience a 6% jump during the same decade. Additionally, the BLS reported that median annual salaries for these career fields ranged between $50,600 and $56,310 in May 2014

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