Art Teachers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To prepare for a career in art education, follow your school's college preparatory program and take advanced courses in English, mathematics, science, history, and government—in addition to art. Composition, journalism, and communication classes are also important for developing your writing and speaking skills.

Postsecondary Training

Your college training will depend on the level at which you plan to teach. All 50 states and the District of Columbia require public elementary education teachers to have a bachelor's degree in either education or in the subject they teach. Prospective teachers must also complete an approved training program, which combines subject and educational classes with work experience in the classroom, called student teaching.

If you want to teach at the high school level, you may choose to major in art while taking required education courses, or you may major in secondary education with a concentration in art. Similar to prospective elementary teachers, you will need to student teach in an actual classroom environment.

Other Education or Training

The National Art Education Association offers more than 1,000 participatory workshops, panels, and seminars at its national convention. Recent offerings included "Motivating the Unmotivated: Addressing Apathy in the Visual Arts Classroom," "Design Thinking in the K–12 Art Room," "Lesson Plan: A Drone's Eye View," and "A STEAM Makerspace in YOUR Classroom!" Contact the association for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers voluntary national certification. Contact the board for information on eligibility criteria.

Elementary and secondary art teachers who work in public schools must be licensed under regulations established by the state in which they teach. If they move to another state, teachers have to comply with any other regulations in their new state to be able to teach there, though many states have reciprocity agreements, which means they accept out-of-state licensure, that make it easier for teachers to change locations.

To become licensed, prospective art teachers must be knowledgeable of several art subjects and complete an approved teaching program with the appropriate course credits in both education and art and a period of student teaching. Many states are moving toward a performance-based evaluation for licensing. In this case, after passing the teaching examination, prospective teachers are given provisional licenses. Only after proving themselves capable in the classroom are they eligible for a full license.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

One of the best ways to gain experience in the field is to work as a student teacher, which is a requirement for all education majors. 

Many consider the desire to teach a calling. This calling is based on a love of learning. Teachers of young children and young adults must respect their students as individuals, with personalities, strengths, and weaknesses of their own. They must also be patient and self-disciplined to manage a large group independently. Because they work with students who are at very impressionable ages, they should serve as good role models. Elementary and secondary teachers should also be well organized, as they have to keep track of the work and progress of a number of different students. In addition, they should be creative, have artistic ability, and have a strong love of art and teaching others about the field.