How to Become an Art Teacher

To become an art teacher, you have quite a range of options. Some art colleges offer a wide range of courses, which can lead to an even wider range of career paths.

Education and training

The primary qualification requirement for art teachers is a Bachelors Degree in Art. The range of degrees offered is huge, and commonly includes:

Bachelor of Fine Arts in:

  • Illustration
  • Graphic design
  • Design
  • Multimedia/web design
  • 3D modeling and animation
  • Painting with specializations in oil painting
  • Painting with specializations in water color painting
  • Sculpture
  • Interdisciplinary 

Masters Degrees further extend the art teacher's range of options. Some teachers may move in a straight qualifications progression, but others may undertake advanced qualifications with a range of special subjects, based on career goals.


Because both degrees and the employment market tend to relate to special subjects, the art teacher's career often tends to specialize early. Although all Fine Arts qualifications relate to the basic skills, the difference between generalist teachers and specialists can be extreme, in terms of career moves. The demand for art teachers has gravitated away from the pure Fine Arts into the more advanced technological art forms, which are the big growth areas in employment. That trend has moved art teachers into these career modes, and away from the traditional teaching zones.


In the US, you'll need to check out all licensing requirements in your state, because the requirements vary a lot between states. Licensing by the state is usually based on demonstrated proficiencies, with certification by a recognized authority, often the state Teacher Certification division of the Department of Education. Some states require teachers to obtain a Masters Degree within a specified period of time.

Other credentials for early childhood teaching, like the Child Development Associate credential, are the most common requirement for licensing. Adult teaching credentials are also available, an important point for art teachers as adult education expands and demands increase.

Vocational licensing requirements

Some art equipment, like welding equipment, kilns or other "industrial" equipment, may require operator licenses or trades certificates.

Becoming an art teacher

Becoming a full time art teacher requires personal commitment. This is a job which has a dual role. Teaching manual skills is one of the primary tasks, and dealing with other people's creative issues is the other. It's a labor of love.

Some of the primary factors in the decision to become an art teacher are:

Relationships with students: Forming a working relationship with a talented person is often one of the rewards of the job.

Encouraging the creativity of others: This almost parental role is one of the demands, and one of the joys, of working as an art teacher. Particularly when working with children, this is an almost critical part of the job.

Teaching skills: One of the major focuses of teaching art is dealing with a student's problems. Some people are natural artists, others are definitely not. Working with the less able students is a test, but often pays off when a student responds well. In many cases art teachers can create confidence and correct skills issues very effectively. Art tutors, in particular, specialize in this sort of work.