How To Become an Art Professor In 6 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 5, 2021

Art professors hold tenured positions with a college, teaching art to students. Becoming an art professor requires a degree and a teaching certification. A good understanding of art history and strategies is also useful as an art teacher. In this article, we discuss how to become an art teacher, including specific steps that you can take to work toward this career.

Why become an art professor?

Becoming an art professor gives you the opportunity to earn a salary doing something that you enjoy, while also teaching the history and skill of art to students. An art professor is someone who teaches art at the college level. As an art professor, you may work with either undergraduate or graduate students. Students may be pursuing their own careers in art, or they may be taking art classes as an elective.

The art professor plays an important role in teaching students important elements of art. They also represent the college's art department, facilitating and implementing research and planning programs.

Learn more: 45 Jobs You Can Do With an Art Degree

How to become art professor

Becoming an art professor requires the completion of certain educational and training requirements. You can become an art professor with the following steps:

1. Graduate from high school

Because a minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to work as a professor, the first step is to graduate from high school or an approved GED program. During high school, you may want to take classes like art history or art strategy. You might also volunteer your time with a local art program at a community center or children's program. This experience can help you become a competitive candidate when applying to bachelor's programs.

Related: How to Include Your High School Education on a Resume

2. Obtain a bachelor's degree

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to work as a professor, but most will prefer at least a master's degree. You might pursue a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Students can expect to take core classes, like mathematics and science, as well as classes directly related to art, like art history and drawing techniques.

Bachelor's degree students will usually choose elective classes that are also art-related in a subject they enjoy most and want to teach. This could include subjects like music, art, media arts or design arts. You might also take classes in drama, dance, videography, photography, design, digital arts, fine arts, industrial design or music history.

Related: What Is a Liberal Arts Degree?

3. Obtain your teaching certification

While working toward a bachelor's degree, students will also need to work toward teaching certification. You must be certified to teach in your home state. The requirements will vary from state to state, but will usually require that you earn a certain number of teaching hours, as well as successfully pass the teacher test.

While you are attending college and working toward your teaching certification, it is recommended that you continue working on your art. During this time, you might also create a portfolio of your work. You can add your favorite pieces as you develop your skills and use them to demonstrate how formal training has helped you as an art teacher.

You may be able to find employment teaching middle or high school students art at this point in your career, which can help you become a more competitive candidate for a master's program.

4. Consider a master's degree

Most colleges will require a minimum of a master's degree to work as a professor. You may pursue a master's in art or a doctoral degree in art. Some programs combine the master's program with a doctoral degree, which can reduce the number of years. Your school may or may not offer an internship, but even if they don't, it can be helpful to find one in a teaching position.

While working toward your master's degree, you might also participate in research on campus. This is a good way to increase your teaching skills and demonstrate your strong passion for the industry.

5. Continue developing your art skills

Even once you have completed your education, it is important to continue developing your art skills. This may also be a good time to develop areas of art that you are less familiar with. Colleges may need art professors to teach drawing, sculpting, painting or even graphic design. The more skills you have, the more competitive of a candidate you will be.

It can also be helpful to continue developing your educator skills. As an art professor, you will be teaching students in a classroom. Earning experience as a teacher or working with students can help you find a teaching position. You might also join professional art associations or memberships, like the College Art Association (CAA) or National Art Education Association, which can help demonstrate your dedication to the art industry.

6. Apply to professor positions

Finding an art professor position can be competitive. Having a strong cover letter, resume and preparing for your interview are important steps in becoming an art professor. This is also a good time to polish your portfolio.

Some aspiring art professors first seek employment as an adjunct professor, which is part-time. This type of position may also be temporary. Working as an assistant professor can also help you earn experience. As an associate or assistant professor, you should continue to contribute to the art department through organized events or research studies, which will help you earn a tenured full-time position.

Doing this can help you demonstrate your abilities while also earning experience. Once you develop teaching experience, you may be able to find employment as a full-time art professor.

Related: Considering a Master's Degree to Fit Your Career Goals

Important skills needed to become an art professor

Developing certain skills can help you become an art professor. These are a few top skills:

  • Artistic: Artistic skills are a must as an art professor. They will help you demonstrate your understanding of the art industry, while also helping to develop student's artistic skills.

  • Organization: Organizational skills are also important as art professors are involved in creating lesson plans and grading assignments. Art professors will usually have multiple classes.

  • Project management: Project management skills can help art professors manage multiple art or research projects at once. These skills can help you plan and implement different projects.

  • Technology: Technology is commonly used in the arts today. Good technology management skills will also help professors with teaching online classes or grading assignments remotely.

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