"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein

But how do you become a teacher?

According to Revise Sociology13% of qualified teachers drop out after just one year of teaching, and 30% drop out after five years of teaching. This would imply that not everyone is cut out for a career in teaching. So what is it that makes a good teacher?

In this article, we give you all the information you need so you can make your dream of becoming an art teacher a reality.

What Certifications Do I Need to Become an Art Teacher?

Has painting been a passion of yours ever since the days your parents would proudly display your school drawings on the fridge? And now you've decided to become a painting teacher?

But what educational background do you need to get there?

This will depend entirely on where you want to teach.

Whether you want to be a primary school painting teacher, a secondary school art teacher, an art lecturer at university or even a private art tutor, you are spoiled for choice.

In any case, you will need a solid foundation in everything drawing, painting and art related as soon as possible.

Primary Studies

Primary school is where you learn to use colours in harmony with one another.

We also learn how to paint with gouache, use a graphite pencil for shades of grey, utilise perspective to give depth to drawings, etc. To become a teacher, it goes without saying that a primary school education is mandatory.

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How to be an inspiring art tutor for your private students.
Children's art classes encourage imagination and creativity. Source: Visual Hunt

Secondary Education

At secondary school, you continue to learn the basics in art, but with a greater focus on the visual arts.

The classic erupting volcano project, using different materials for expression, this is an essential teaching technique that develops creativity and imagination.

But at secondary school, you can also choose visual arts classes.

You will find many art enthusiasts at school who have opted to continue in the field of artistic expression. All the main areas of art are covered in the curriculum, but it is quite common for students to choose painting as their main technique.

Graduate Studies

After A-level, students can continue their art studies at university or art school.

Schools of Design and Architecture are also good options for further studies but have very little in common with teaching painting as a career.

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Degrees for Teaching Art in a School

To become an art teacher for GCSE or A-level students, it is important to get the following qualifications:

  • The bare minimum requirement is a Bachelor's degree in art or education,
  • Nearly all schools will require some form of teaching certification,
  • Some secondary schools will ask for relevant teaching experience,
  • Reputable institutions may require a Master's degree or evidence of further studies.

If teaching art is something you are serious about, a Master's degree would certainly be worth thinking about.

The teaching posts available will depend on your level of education, so think hard about where you would like to end up working.

In certain parts of the UK, teaching has become a highly competitive career in recent years. In Northern Ireland for example, you will need a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) to teach in most secondary schools. A PGCE is a one- or two-year higher education course available throughout the UK which provides specialised training to graduates wanting to become teachers.

Part of the PGCE is devoted to learning teaching theory, while the other half gives students the opportunity to complete a one year teaching placement. This gives prospective teachers first-hand teaching experience and an insight into life as a teacher.

Be careful, however, being an art teacher isn't just about teaching students to paint.

You must also focus on other techniques such as drawing (sketching, charcoals, still life, etc.) as well as the history of art (artistic trends, famous painters, and so on.).

An engaging lesson will inspire and motivate art students.
Clear instruction is essential to being a good teacher. Source: Visual Hunt

If you want to teach painting to young people and share your passion for art, you will find more details of how to become a secondary school art teacher on the Department of Education website.

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Degrees for Teaching in Art School

The level required to teach at an art school is much higher than that for secondary education.

While the goal of secondary school art class is to prepare students for art school by helping them develop artistic technique, expression and imagination, art schools do everything to prepare students for the professional world.

The teacher must be able to have some experience or contact in the professional world in order to provide students with the most help. But also a very advanced level artistically, in both drawing and painting.

Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees allow students to prepare as much as possible for teaching in art schools and equip them with the necessary qualifications for this type of teaching.

The level required will depend on the institution in question. A Bachelor's and Master's degree in a relevant field will help fend off the competition when applying to teach in an art school.

There is also the possibility to apply as a painting or visual arts teacher in a private school. However, the recruitment for these positions does not follow specific rules. Each school has different requirements. If you want to head down this route, make sure you have ample experience on your CV to give you the best chance of landing your dream job.

Become an art tutor and give painting lessons from home.
Why not teach Fine Art? Source: Visual Hunt

What Are the Attributes of a Good Art Teacher?

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." - William Arthur Ward.

Think back to all those times where you spent more time on the crosswords puzzle than your art GCSE coursework which was due in two weeks. Would you have done the same if your teacher had really managed to inspire you?

Being a teacher is all about knowing how to capture the attention of your students. Whether the curriculum put in place by the education system is good or bad won't matter if you have a truly inspirational art teacher.

Being a teacher

To be a good teacher, you must ooze enthusiasm. But you also need to hold the attention of your audience: your students.

Try to gain an understanding of what interests them based on their age in order to use these interests as part of your class. Ask them, for example, to paint a celebrity they admire or the dream they had last night.

Don't be afraid to put on a show or invent situations to help bring out your students' imagination.

And do not forget to be clear and precise.

Having Artistic Knowledge

Having knowledge of the subject is just as important as being able to practise it. It allows you to draw inspiration from certain techniques, trends, themes, compositions, etc.

Picasso, Da Vinci, Delacroix, higher education institutions teach students about the greats in art history.

Having Passion

To teach a skill like painting, you have to be passionate.

Indeed, the education system often overlooks artistic subjects and teacher training is not always adequate.

It is essential to be motivated and, most importantly, have the desire to spread knowledge.

Don't forget, the painting teacher is there first and foremost to assist their students and push them to express themselves and open their mind. You can do all of this by teaching the history of art and painting techniques.

Can You Teach Without a Diploma?

Becoming an art teacher does not in all cases require you to have extensive qualifications.

It is quite possible to acquire professional skills without going from institution to institution.

Be a Tutor in Painting

Study fine art or art history at university to become an art teacher.
There's no need for degrees if you want to give painting lessons at home or online. Source: Visual Hunt

It often happens that art students, or great painting enthusiasts, decide to give private painting lessons to make some extra pocket money or embark on a full-time career. This does not mean that they are not qualified to teach.

As said before, passion and instruction are the essentials of being a good teacher. Passion cannot be learned, and how to be a good teacher is not taught, it is something that you have to practise.

Most students will prefer a young, perhaps inexperienced, teacher who is passionate to a qualified teacher with no desire to teach.

Teach at Associations

In small cities, as in large cities, art associations organise weekly painting classes.

The teachers there do not necessarily graduate from major art schools. They may be just as talented as any professional painter without having gone down the academic route.

Becoming a teacher without a degree in art

More and more public service and private sector employees are converting to the teaching profession.

The latter either pass the necessary exams or go directly into the education system as a substitute teacher.

Not the traditional path to becoming a teacher, this is nevertheless an option for those who don't have a relevant degree and who don't want to sit the exams.

Definitions to Know Before Teaching Art

To be best prepared and understand exactly what your students and your school expect of you, here are a few definitions.


Pedagogy refers to the art of education. The term brings together the teaching methods and practices required to impart skills, namely, knowledge, ability and attitude.

Visual Arts

The visual arts are generally considered the grouping of all practices or activities to produce an artistic representation, aesthetic or poetic, in varying shapes and volumes.

Bear in mind that teaching painting in the National Education system primarily involves being a professor of visual arts.

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A French/Spanish to English translator, Sarah is currently enjoying travelling around Europe with her work.