How to Become an Art Professor

Art Professor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $68,870
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 11%

An Art Professor is a professional who teaches art at the post-secondary level.

These individuals have an affinity for art and other platforms for expression.

Individuals who want to become an Art Professor should expect to pursue a graduate degree in the arts.

An advanced degree is needed in order to teach college students the craft or history of art.

Education Requirements to Become an Art Professor

In order for an individual to become an Art Professor, they must first attain a college degree.

Depending on the institution they are looking for work in, they must also pursue a graduate degree.

Either a Ph.D.

or a Master’s degree in art will suffice but the qualification ultimately depends on the type of institution they are seeking work in.

Individuals who want to become an Art Professor have the option to choose an undergraduate degree in almost any major.

However, attaining a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) will show that a person is dedicated to the arts when applying for graduate schools.

An individual can focus their BFA in Music, Art, Art History or Painting and Drawing.

They may also focus on more general types of art such as: Design Arts, Media Arts, Studio Art or Liberal Arts.

After attaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts in a major of their choosing, an individual can begin to research the specialty they would like to focus on during their Master’s or Ph.D.

In order for an individual to become an Art Professor, a minimum of a Master’s degree is needed.

A Master’s degree lasts for approximately two years and during this time, a student will choose the specialty they would like to teach in.

For those pursuing a doctorate degree, a total of four years of graduate studies is needed.

Individuals must also choose a focus they’d like to teach such as Drama, Art History or Media Arts.

Art Professor Job Description

Art Professors may work as an adjunct professor or full time and this has an impact on the amount of work they have.

Art Professors teach art topics to college aged students.

Art Professors are responsible for creating curriculum, course outlines and a syllabus for the art classes they teach.

The amount of preparation depends on the amount of classes an Art Professor has for the semester.

Art Professors will develop an art lesson and related assignments for themes and topics discussed and taught in the classroom.

Art Professors typically have office hours to help students with questions or assist in understanding a topic discussed in class.

Art Professors will also work on grading papers or tests given after a class.

Some Art Professors may also perform additional work and tasks such as researching topics and writing about their findings for other professionals in the same field.

Some of these writings may eventually be published in scholarly or literary magazines or publications.

Art Professor Salary and Career Path

The 2012 median annual salary for Art Professors was approximately $62,160.

Exact wages will depend on the type of institution and how many courses an Art Professor takes on each semester or quarter.

In addition, Art Professors who work for colleges, universities or professional schools earn higher wages than those who work for community colleges.

The job outlook for post-secondary instructors, including Art Professors is expected to grow at a fast rate when compared to other professions and fields.

Post-secondary position will grow by 19 percent through the year 2022.

This projection is expected to affect both part time and full time positions.

An increase of enrollments into post-secondary institutions is responsible for this projected growth.

Although post-secondary teaching opportunities are expected to increase, job security and open positions will heavily depend on funding sources that universities and colleges rely on.

Large amounts of funding will depend on the federal government’s priorities and whether it will allocate funds to higher education and research.

An increase in demand for post-secondary positions will likely come from government funding.

Art Professors use their love of art to teach a variety of classes to enhance an individual’s craft and knowledge of famous art works and history.

In addition, Art Professors help their students enhance their own artistic abilities in hands on classes such as ceramics or music.

Art Professors can take satisfaction in the fact that they are encouraging the love of art for younger generations to enjoy.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$80,870
New Hampshire$86,900
New Jersey$84,190
New Mexico$69,420
New York$107,020
North Carolina$71,760
North Dakota$68,160
Rhode Island$91,280
South Carolina$77,930
Virginia- NA -
West Virginia$51,270
Puerto Rico$35,720

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $147,680.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $147,680
New York - $107,020
Rhode Island - $91,280
Minnesota - $88,020
Oregon - $86,970
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary, OCC Code 25-1121, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an art professor do?

An art professor is a professional who works in a college setting.

The main aim of art professors is to teach the students various or specific drawing and painting techniques; how to create ceramics and sculptures, etc.

In most cases, an art professor is someone who is simultaneously an artist and a teacher.

The typical responsibilities of an art professor usually include planning lessons and projects; making sure they have enough supplies and tools for all the students; covering specific college curriculums, and so on.

Art professors can work with a wide range of different materials – paints, pencils, clay, textiles; nowadays, professionals might also use computers and teach digital art forms.

The duties will certainly vary depending on the level of the students and the college.

How much do art professors make?

On average, an art professor can make a little less than $73.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $45.000 and $88.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the college you work for, the location and so on.

Art professors that work in New York, California, and Massachusetts, for example, have the highest average salaries.

How much does it cost to become an art professor?

You would certainly need to earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts, in order to become an art professor.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

You would also need a Master’s (over $30.000, in most cases) or Doctoral degree (around $30.000-$40.000) in Art to be able to teach in colleges.

You must be certified to become a teacher; the cost of teacher certification can vary from state to state, so be prepared to pay anywhere between $40 and $200.

What is the demand for art professors?

Between 2018 and 2028, the postsecondary teacher job market is expected to grow by 11%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a lot faster than the national average for all occupations in the United States.

Those who possess a master’s or a doctorate degree will have better job prospects.

Bear in mind that there is a shortage of professors in some locations.

How long does it take to become an art professor?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree; 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree; on average, you would need to spend 7 years to earn a Ph.D.

To get the teacher certification, you would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved teacher education program, pass a background check and knowledge and skills tests.

The initial certificate is valid for 5 years; you would have to complete a certain number of professional development hours every five years to maintain the certification.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *