An art teacher introduces children to the beauty of the visual arts and helps to develop any genuine creative talent he or she discovers in them. They can also bring the solace of art to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities. If you are artistically talented and enjoy not only creating your own art but also helping others to appreciate or create it themselves, you may want to pursue a profession as an art educator.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The first step to teaching art is to earn your four-year bachelor’s degree in art education. An alternative route is to earn a bachelor’s degree majoring in a related field, such as fine arts, art history, or art design, then complete a teacher education program. As part of the admission requirements, you may be asked to display a portfolio showcasing your range of artistic skills. You should be able to demonstrate that you possess basic aptitude in drawing, painting, and sculpting in a variety of mediums such as chalk, clay, oils, and watercolors. Your course work in the bachelor’s degree program will include a combination of hands-on studio work, general educational classes, and specific art curricula such as art history, art and cultural appreciation, color theory, graphic design, sketching, life drawing, multimedia art, painting, and philosophy of art education.
- Teacher Education Program. Bachelor’s degree programs in art education usually include teacher education training as part of the curricula so that you can become licensed or certified and begin teaching immediately after graduation. You will learn different theories and methods of teaching art to students at the K-12 levels as well as lesson planning and classroom management. You will also go through a period of student teaching supervised by a licensed art teacher, usually in your senior year. During this internship, you will create lesson plans and lead classes, which give you the opportunity to apply the methods and techniques you studied in an actual classroom setting and gain valuable teaching experience. Your supervising teacher will evaluate how well you prepare and deliver your lesson plans as well as advise you on ways to be more effective. Volunteering at an art gallery, museum, or after-school program are also good ways to build up your work experience while you are in school.
- Teacher Certification. Private schools and community art programs may not require teachers to be licensed or certified because they are not regulated by the government and can set their own admission standards. If you wish to teach art in public schools, however, you must next meet your state’s conditions for certification or licensure. The individual requirements for each state can be different, but most usually require a bachelor’s degree, completion of an approved teacher education program, and passing an assessment exam such as the PRAXIS to demonstrate basic competency in your field. For example, the PRAXIS II Test for Art Content Knowledge uses multiple-choice questions to test your knowledge of traditions in art, architecture, design, and the making of artifacts; art criticism and aesthetics; and the making of art.
If you wish to teach art in colleges and universities, you can go on to earn a master of fine arts or a doctoral degree in art. You are also usually required to be an established practicing artist for this level of teaching.