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How Much Does an Art Teacher Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

For the Love of Art

If you love arts and crafts with your kids, you may find a vocation that allows you to capitalize on these artistic talents—that of being an art teacher. Art teachers are creative individuals who can be found in a variety of settings— elementary, middle and high schools, colleges, community centers and art design studios. Some art teachers specialize in a particular form of art, such as sculpture, paint or mixed media, while others provide a range of all-encompassing instruction that touches on everything from art history to a multitude of artistic techniques. How much an art teacher makes can vary based on where she works and the degree of education and experience she’s attained.

Job Description

The role of art teachers varies based on work environment.

Art teachers working in elementary schools, for instance, typically provide instruction on a wide range of simple, basic techniques. This may include instruction and guidance in mediums such as chalk, watercolors, pencil and paper crafts.

Middle school art teachers introduce more complex artistic processes, delving into areas such as sculpture and oils.

High school teachers challenge students with more conceptual forms of art that typically include art history instruction and an introduction to various art styles and techniques of well-known historic and contemporary artists.

College art professors often specialize in a specific art form, such as impressionism, mixed media or experimental art. Others focus on art of specific time periods throughout history, or on artists of historic and cultural significance.

Community center art teachers often teach in specialized areas of interest to a wide range of patrons. Pottery, wood-carving, glass-blowing and fusing, painting, sculpture and metal arts are popular offerings at art guilds and recreation centers. Teachers are often artists in their own right who earn extra money on the side teaching their craft.

Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is typically required for entry-level, school-based art teachers, while a master’s degree or Ph.D. are required for college-level professorships. Many community centers focus more on your personal success as an artist rather than your educational credentials.

About the Industry

While a majority of art teachers are employed in educational settings, artists may also find work as independent contractors, offering private lessons and small group instruction. Art teachers may also work in healthcare and assisted living facilities, providing instruction to patients and residents as a form of art therapy.

Years of Experience

The term “starving artist” was coined, in part, because of the often unpredictable nature of an artist’s income; a regular teaching gig, however, can bring in a steady paycheck. Typically, the more well-known or versatile an art teacher, the more in-demand her services will be. The average median salary for art teachers in 2016 was $41,815.

  • 0-5 years: $24,380-$52,935
  • 5-10 years: $28,990-$62,066
  • 10-20 years: $30,553-$73,037
  • Over 20 years: $35,427-$81,869 

Job Growth Trend

It’s anticipated that art teacher jobs will grow at an average rate over the next 10 years of about 7 percent. This expected need will be driven by above-average retirement of Gen-X-aged teachers through 2026. Funding for art educators may be skewed, however, based on government spending on education over the next decade.