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What is a University Art Instructor?

A university art instructor is, simply put, an individual that teaches some aspect of art to his or her students. Most of the time, those interested in becoming art instructors are artists who have honed their skills and talents and want to share their love of art and their knowledge with others. An art instructor may teach a single form of art, such as painting or sculpture, or they may teach a variety of art types. They may also specialize in things like art history or the artists themselves. A lot of times, a university art instructor will teach students with raw talent how to hone their skills, as well as useful techniques and tricks that will assist them in their art career.

Depending upon the type of art an instructor specializes in, they may need to be well-versed in certain art-based computer programs. They should also have adequate knowledge of modern artists in addition to influential artists of the past. Those interested in pursuing this career should have a strong background in art, and it’s best to be as well-rounded as possible, with knowledge and experience in various types of mediums. Not only will this assist them in teaching their students, but it will make their resume and portfolio more attractive to hiring universities.

Work Environment

University art instructors will spend the majority of their work time in the classroom, which may have more of a studio setting than a traditional classroom setting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 92,930 postsecondary art, drama and music teachers were employed throughout the US in May of 2013. Most of these instructors (68,300) were employed with colleges, universities and professional schools.

In addition to teaching inside the classroom, many university art instructors will teach outdoors, especially if they’re teaching landscape sketches or paintings. Others may schedule many different trips for students to view art in public galleries and museums. There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the art instructor’s schedule; as long as he or she is on campus for their scheduled classes, they have the ability to pretty much set their own hours. Many instructors will spend their additional time working on their own art.

Education Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that those interested in becoming art instructors earn a doctoral degree in an art-related field. Most colleges and universities require all of their professors to hold a doctoral degree, though some will hire art instructors who have a master’s degree or those who are working toward their doctoral degree. Earning this degree can take up to 8 years. Throughout this time, the future instructor will have the opportunity to be completely immersed in the art world, learning the various types of art, mediums, skills and techniques for art and teaching, and more.


According to the BLS, the median annual salary for postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers was $62,160 in May of 2013. However, this is simply the middle line when it comes to salaries, and an instructor’s actual salary will be dependent upon several different things. In May of 2013, the lowest earners brought home less than $35,670 while the top 10% earned more than $120,000. The top paying states for art instructors are New York (with an annual median salary of $105,130), New Jersey ($90,110), Connecticut ($87,210), California ($82,400), and Massachusetts ($80,420).

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the job growth rate of postsecondary art, drama and music teachers at 16%, which is higher than the average growth rate for all other occupations. In 2012, 114,300 of these professionals were employed, and an estimated 18,300 new jobs will become available for art instructors through the year 2022. This is a fantastic outlook, proving that this is a great career to become seriously interested in.

The states with the highest employment for art, music and drama instructors are California (11,380 employed professionals), New York (11,310), Texas (5,190), Ohio (5,120) and Massachusetts (4,710).

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