How to Become An Art Professor

Art professors teach students the basic principles and history of art while also helping them understand shapes, colors and textures. They are responsible for building the artistic skills and creative expressions of students by giving them a good grounding in drawing, painting, ceramics creation, sculpting, photography, digital imagery, etc.

Art education is an integral part of the curriculum in most American elementary and secondary schools. Specialized degree programs are also available in many colleges and universities. The majority of an art professor’s work involves teaching different techniques to students in a variety of art mediums like pencil, paint, charcoal, photography, pastels, etc.   

If this is something that appeals to you, then it might be a good idea to build a career as an art teacher/professor. This piece contains some valuable information on how you can do that in the United States.

Should I Become an Art Professor?

If you have a passion for creative endeavors like painting, sculpting or drawing, then becoming an art professor might be a good career choice for you. Other than teaching and grooming the next generation of artists, you will also be able to hone your own craft by staying on top of emerging art techniques and latest design trends. The coming years will bring an increased demand for art professors as more and more students opt for higher studies in the field. 

The table below lists down the salient features and major requirements for starting a career as an art professor. It also includes updated information about the salary and career outlook for this occupation.


Bachelor’s Degree

Major Requirement

Arts degree along with a teaching certification


License / Certification

License required for teaching in public-sector educational institutions; private schools and community colleges may not need Art Professors to be licensed.




Key Skills

Active Learning, Speaking, Learning Strategies, Instructing, Active Listening, Oral and Written Expression, Speech Clarity, Oral and Written Comprehension, Creative Thinking, Time Management, Photo Imaging and Graphics Software, Editing and Video Creation Software, Sound Editing and Music Software, Web Platform Development Software, Computer-Based Training Software.                       

Annual Mean Wage (2019)

$83,220 (Post-Secondary Art, Drama and Music Teachers)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

11% (Post-Secondary Teachers)


 Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online

Career Outlook for Art Professors

Employment opportunities for post-secondary teachers are projected to increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028. For aspiring art professors, it is a good time to enter the field with the number of art students expected to increase significantly each year. As a result, more educationists will certainly be needed.

The more qualified and experienced an art professor is, the better their job prospects are likely to be. Location will also have an impact on the salary outlook and frequency of available positions. For example, New York (11,590) had the highest number of jobs for Post-Secondary Art, Drama and Music Teachers in 2019.

Other states with abundant jobs in the sector included California (9,990), Texas (5,830), Massachusetts (5,780) and Pennsylvania (4,380). California was also the highest-paying state for Post-Secondary Art, Drama and Music Teachers with an annual mean wage of $111,970 in 2019. It was followed by Massachusetts ($107,500), District of Columbia ($105,420), New York ($104,830) and Connecticut ($92,490).  

Steps to Become an Art Professor

Take the steps mentioned below to become an Art Professor in the US.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

You will start off your journey by getting a Bachelor’s degree in art education. Courses covered by the program include painting, design and color theory among others. You can specialize in Art History, Painting, Graphic Arts, Sculpting, Ceramics, Digital Art, etc.   

Step 2: Complete a Teacher Education Program

Most undergraduate degrees in art education tend to include programs on teacher education. By completing such a program, students are eligible to start teaching after graduation. These programs include courses on classroom management, lesson planning, teaching methodology, etc. Moreover, students are also assigned teaching duties under the guidance of a licensed teacher.

Step 3: Get a Teaching Certification

Teacher certification requirements vary from one state to another. Also, if you plan on teaching at a public school, then a certification is mandatory. However, that is often not the case at private educational institutions.

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