Graphic Arts Teacher: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

The products of graphic art and design can be found everywhere. From billboards to greeting cards to the label on a soup can, it's not hard to find the fingerprints of a graphic artist. Those who teach graphic arts and graphic design are artists themselves who have a passion for educating others about this creative field.

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Job Description

Secondary and postsecondary graphic arts classes are the stepping stone for prospective graphic artists and designers. For some students, this is where they will decide to pursue a career in graphic arts. Teachers foster creativity while providing hands-on instruction in art and graphic design using traditional drawing techniques and the industry's popular software, audiovisual materials and books.


High School Teachers

Middle and high school teachers specialize in specific subjects, such as art, music, science or English. At a high school without a specific graphic arts program, an art teacher may be able to incorporate graphic arts into his or her curriculum.

Giving career guidance to students at the secondary level is common practice for many instructors. They may also serve as homeroom teachers or study hall monitors. If an opportunity arises, a teacher may take students on a field trip to incorporate classroom learning with examples in the real world of design.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs for high school teachers will grow by 6% between 2012 and 2022. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for high school teachers was $55,050 in May of 2012.

College Teachers

Many colleges and universities have graphic arts or graphic design programs connected to multimedia or arts departments. Graphic arts courses taught at the college level include multimedia design, web design and animation, typography, design principles, color theory, photography, graphic design fundamentals and drawing. Instructors create assignments and provide instruction, feedback and grades. They may teach at night or on weekends, as well as during the weekday.

Oftentimes, postsecondary faculty serve on their institution's academic committee and in various organizations. Such committees are often responsible for areas related to institutional policies, departmental affairs, equipment purchases and fund allocation. They also provide guidance on portfolios - a collection of work demonstrating a student's skills and experience, used for entrance into higher education or for obtaining employment.

The BLS predicts that jobs for postsecondary teachers will increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022, and that the median annual salary for art, music and drama teachers at the college level was $62,160 in 2012.


Teachers must demonstrate creativity and attention to detail, both characteristics of a graphic artist. A familiarity of standard industry hard- and software is required, in addition to keeping up with upgrades and advancements. Because each student comes to class with his or her own ideas and suggestions, teachers must allow a certain amount of creativity without imposing their ideas onto students.


Graphic arts teachers must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree in graphic design or art to be able to teach at the secondary level. A master's degree is typically required to work as a graphic design professor at the college and university levels.

Certification and Licensure

Every State within the United States, including Washington, D.C., requires licensure of all public school teachers. Secondary instructors must become licensed in their specialty area. Teachers must maintain their credentials by completing continuing education courses and acquiring credits. Private school teachers are generally not obligated to become licensed; however, most employers require a bachelor's degree.

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