How to Become a High School Art History Teacher

Mar 04, 2020

Find out how to become a high school art history teacher. Learn about the education, licensure requirements, and experience needed for a career as a secondary school teacher.

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Becoming an Art History Teacher

Art history is a topic that is typically studied at the high school level through Advanced Placement (AP) courses, though these options may not be very common. Other high school teachers may instruct art history as part of a more general history class. In this case, they would most likely also teach other secondary school history courses.

Due to the specific nature of art history, aspiring teachers may have trouble finding work in this field. Also, large class sizes and workloads can be stressful on teachers. However, these instructors get to play an important role in shaping students' educational goals. Teachers also get summers off, as well as a winter break.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree (minimum); master's degree may be required in some states
Degree Field Art or art history plus a teacher preparation program
Licensure and Certification All states require formal certification/licensure
Experience Entry-level; experience preferred but not formally required
Additional Requirements Pass background checks
Key Skills Instructive ability,; compassion and patience; critical thinking, decision-making, and time management skills; computer skills in instructive, imaging, spreadsheet, and development environment softwares; technical skill with scanners, photocopiers, and smart devices
Median Salary (2018) $60,320 (for high school teachers)*
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% increase (for high school teachers)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, Job postings by employers (March 2020)

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The minimum educational requirement for state licensing in teaching is typically a bachelor's degree. Aspiring high school art history teachers might major in art history or art history. They would also complete an educational program that would prepare them to become a teacher, which might be accomplished as a minor, double major, or concentration option.

An undergraduate art history student might begin by studying individual works of art, then progress to studying arts movements and how arts were received in their cultural context. Through art, undergraduates study social, cultural and intellectual history. Students are taught various methods of instruction depending on the secondary school subject, and programs can include fieldwork opportunities to fulfill student teaching requirements.

While in college, students should also work to increase their communication skill, since they are a key characteristic of an effective teacher. Improving verbal and written skills can help distinguish an individual and assist with job prospects. A student can opt to take elective courses in public speaking, public relations, or communications to develop stronger communication skills. Participating in community service, internships, or volunteer work are other options to consider.

Step 2: Consider a Post Baccalaureate Program

If a student has previously earned their bachelor's degree in art history and desires to go back to school in order to teach high school, a post baccalaureate teacher education program may be the right choice. These programs are usually around two years in length and can result in a master's degree. They may feature field experiences that take place at a local secondary school to meet supervised teaching requirements for state certification.

Step 3: Earn State Licensure

Since state requirements for teacher certification vary, an aspiring high school art history teacher should be familiar with their specific state's requirements. Many states require an individual to successfully pass both a general teaching exam and a specific subject exam to teach at the secondary school level. Some states may require the completion of a master's degree after an individual has earned their teaching certification. The majority of states also require candidates to pass background checks.

Step 4: Meet Continuing Education Requirements

Most states have annual continuing education requirements that need to be completed to keep the teaching license or certification active. A teacher needs to take state-approved professional development courses regularly both to maintain their license and to advance their training. This information can be found on state's websites, which usually have lists of schools and courses approved for continuing education.

In summary, to become a successful art history teacher, prospective educators should earn a bachelor's degree, consider a post-baccalaureate program, earn state licensure, and be prepared to meet continuing education requirements once a position has been obtained.

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