Art teachers instruct children from kindergarten through high school in art technique, history and application. They play a large role in helping children develop and nurture their budding creativity. Art teachers use various mediums to help young people express their artistic urges, creating projects from scissors, construction paper and glue or more advanced assignments in charcoal, paint and paper mache. There are several degree requirements for art teachers, depending on the age of students they teach. Requirements for individual degrees vary by school, but at minimum, an art teacher is required to have a bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's Degree in Art Education
Future art teachers who plan on working with students in elementary schools typically earn a four year bachelor's degree in art education from an accredited college or university. As an art education student you will take a variety of classes required for elementary school teaching including literature, art, mathematics, physical sciences and social sciences. You will also take classes focused on the science of education, including philosophy of education, teaching methods, human development, classroom management and psychology of learning. For the concentration in art education, you will take courses in philosophy of art education, artistic development of children, art history, cultural diversity and foundations of art education.
Bachelor's Degree in Art
Those who plan on teaching art to high school students often earn a bachelor's degree in art, followed by separate teacher education training program. In addition to the undergraduate general education requirements of English, mathematics, humanities and science, art majors are required to take courses in art history, architecture, studio art, painting, drawing, sculpting, ceramics, printmaking and studio classes. Courses in digital art, photography, graphics and computer art may also be required.
Teacher Education Program/Student Teaching
Teachers who earn a bachelor's degree in art are required to complete additional courses in teacher education before they can teach at a high school level. These programs provide students with a comprehensive education on the philosophy and methods of teaching. Regardless of whether you have decided to earn a bachelor's degree in education or a bachelor's degree in art, both tracks require you to perform supervised student teaching in your chosen field. You will observe elementary and secondary school art classes, make lesson plans and teach on your own for at least a semester.
Some schools will only hire art teachers with advanced degrees in art. You can earn a master of arts (M.A.) degree or a master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree. Even in schools where an advanced degree is not required, obtaining one can greatly increase an art teacher's earning potential. While most master's degree programs culminate in a professionally researched thesis paper, graduate level art programs typically require students to exhibit a final art project in addition to taking graduate level studio, history and materials courses.
While state schools require art teachers to complete teaching programs and become licensed before employment, private schools mandate less rigorous qualifications. Applicants for an art teaching position in a private school may only need a bachelor's degree in art. Professional experience may also take the place of degree requirements for teaching art in private schools.