Art Teacher Career Profile

Art teachers are generally themselves artists, with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts as the minimum requirement. The art teacher job itself is a classic career move of many famous artists.

The work environment

Those working in the school system up to secondary level are working with a range of kids, media and subjects based on educational programs Working with the creativity of children is a big responsibility, and art teachers, who in many cases have to start from scratch, take their roles very seriously.

The practical work of the art teacher varies considerably with the level of education, although some study elements are common, just operating at more advanced levels:

Primary skills:

  • Drawing: Basic drawing practice, perspectives, 2D and 3D drawing
  • Drawing instruments and techniques: Figure drawing, drawing shapes, etc.
  • Painting: Starting with watercolors as a basic medium, kids are taught the essentials of working with paints.
  • Painting techniques: Brush strokes, using paints for visual effects, etc.
  • Painting color techniques: Mixing colors, color selection, use of tones and color wheels.
  • Painting equipment and other materials: Different types of brushes, palette knives, tempera, gouache, crayons, charcoal, etc.
  • Clay: Working with modeling clay, basic instruction and composition
  • Clay modeling: How to make clay models, basic techniques.
  • Clay techniques: Use of clay modeling equipment, basic painting, glazing and firing of clay models
  • Other media: Use of materials like different kinds of papers, card, cloth, artboard, canvas, glass, etc.

Advanced skills:

Advanced art teaching involves more complex techniques to produce advanced finished products. The basic techniques are the foundation of development of skills:

  • Pottery/ceramics: Pottery wheel use, painting pottery, glazing, kiln firing techniques
  • Art composition: Multiple subjects, including:
  • Watercolors: Use of watercolors as a composition medium
  • Oils: Oil techniques, brushwork and materials
  • Acrylics: Working with acrylics, acrylic techniques and materials
  • Composition: The creative process, including drafting, preliminary sketching, themes, motifs, and other concepts.
  • Computer graphics: Working with graphics software

Safety procedures

Art teachers also instruct their secondary pupils, who handle more advanced materials, in the important processes of handling toxic chemicals like turpentine, spirits and other potentially dangerous materials. Some paints contain metallic oxides to which bare skin shouldn't be exposed, for example, and various glues and other materials can pose health problems if inhaled. Working with kilns also requires teaching basic operational and safety procedures.

Salaries: From $45,000 to $80,000 for teachers up to secondary level.

Hours: School hours, although examinations, tours and projects expand the time frames.

Personal skills requirements

Art teachers need to be great communicators. Kids need encouragement as much as they need advice. Patience is also a necessity. It's a common observation that most people learn art at their own speed, and that speed can vary considerably.Good computer skills and familiarity with current graphics platforms is a major requirement.

The career environment

Art teachers fit a lot of practical creative work into their training, and the creative side of the career is always fun, and always interesting. Many baseline art teachers progress to higher paying jobs in colleges, based on a mixture of qualifications and experience. Some, however, become businesses, acting as art tutors to advanced students and doing primary skills level training and remedial teaching.