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Art Teacher Certification and Certificate Program Information

Art teacher certificate programs are available for those who want to provide art instruction at the K-12 grade levels. Find out what you need to apply for admission, what the curriculum is like and how you can earn certification. Information is also available on continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Typically less than one year long, art teacher certificate programs prepare individuals for careers in education through the use of a broad pedagogical curriculum that offers instruction in the theory and practice of teaching art. Although these programs most often do not encompass the process of certification, they do qualify graduates to sit for exams to become certified by the state. An undergraduate degree in a similar field is required for admission, along with an art portfolio.

Art teacher certificate programs are offered at the post-baccalaureate level. Designed for those who wish to teach art at the K-12 grade levels, these programs feature a curriculum that blends art history and philosophy with hands-on studio techniques. In addition to the coursework, certificate candidates gain valuable experience through supervised student teaching. Most art teacher certificate programs can be completed in one year.

Educational Prerequisites

Most art teacher certificate programs require applicants to have successfully completed an undergraduate degree program in art or a related field such as art history, design or fine arts. A smaller number of programs offer supplemental art coursework for individuals who have a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field.

It is not uncommon for art teacher certificate programs to require a personal portfolio as an admissions prerequisite. This portfolio should highlight creative ability as well as mastery of form and function. Other common prerequisites include a minimum grade point average, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation.

Program Coursework

Art teacher certificate programs feature an internship, in which certificate candidates teach in an actual classroom under direct supervision from a certified teacher. Sample core curriculum topics include:

  • Art education foundations
  • Art for special needs children
  • Contemporary theories of art education
  • Life drawing
  • Multimedia art education
  • Functions and practice in art theory
  • Ceramics
  • Graphic design
  • Art and cultural awareness

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for K-12 teachers are expected to increase from 2010-2020, although the amount of growth will depend on the grade level taught (www.bls.gov). Elementary and middle school teachers are expected to see 17% job growth, while high school teachers may only see seven percent growth. The BLS also reports the median salary of elementary school teachers was $53,400 as of 2012. New York and Rhode Island featured the highest elementary school teacher salaries at that time.

Certification, Licensure and Continuing Education Information

In order to teach in a public school system in the United States, individuals must be licensed. The certification process is administered at the state level. While the exact requirements vary between states, the process generally involves the completion of an accredited teacher education program, along with a proficiency exam in the candidate's field of study. More information on the teacher licensing process can be obtained from professional organizations, such as the American Federation of Teachers.

For individuals who want to pursue a graduate degree, there are master's degree programs in art education. Nearly all master's degree programs in art education feature a graduate thesis or research project as a degree requirement. Some art education master's degree programs offer a licensing concentration, in which the student graduates as a licensed art instructor.

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