Career Paths: What Do Art Educators Do?

teacher and students looking at a computer

There are a variety of reasons that inspire individuals to engage with others and teach the visual arts. It may be to shape young minds or reach a marginalized population, to inspire aesthetic awareness and guide others in the creative process, to make a living with your artistic skills, or all of these. Desirable settings for careers that serve the diverse populations of society through the visual arts include:

• art teachers working within public school districts
• visual arts specialists within private schools or special needs institutions
• arts educators within museums or cultural institutions
• teaching artists funded by community center grants
• art coordinators within hospitals, retirement homes, or global exchange programs.
• Artist-in-residence in community or afterschool programs
• Art instructors in art and crafts business settings
• Arts Administrators, coordinating arts advocacy programs
• Art/ Art Ed professor at the community college or university (MA/MFA/ PhD needed)
• Arts Curriculum Coordinators for School districts, and others…

How do I know if I’ll be good with people or successful in teaching?
Many art students are uncertain about being in front of others, managing a class, having patience with learners, or presenting art in a structured format. Introduction to art teaching will assist you in recognizing your strengths, provide observational experiences in art classrooms, and help you find your career path. If you love art, have a good academic standing with strong people skills, and are willing to learn, care about others, and see people express their creative potentials, then chances are you are in the right place! Various observation opportunities allow you to experience different ages, and find the right fit for you.

Is licensure right for me?
Generally, having MA Initial Licensure allows for a more competitive edge in the teaching job market no matter whether you are seeking work in a community arts program or a public school setting. A strong teaching and art portfolio developed over the program will ensure that you have the professional tools needed when presenting yourself to a potential employer.

What if I want to teach the visual arts outside of the Commonwealth?
The initial licensure awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is a model program across the country and is transferable across many other states. Please see the DESE website for details.

What if I can’t choose between the PreK-8 or 5-12 concentrations?
Your choice of age level is related to your personality, energy level and skill set. If you have strong studio skills, enjoy discussing ideas, and want to assist youth in finding their creative voice, the 5-12th track might be for you. If you get enthusiasm from guiding little people, enjoy exploration and messy play, are able to synthesize ideas into simpler terms, the PreK-5th track might be for you.