Art Professor

What Is an Art Professor?

Art is often considered to be one of the oldest forms of self-expression. Works of art can often be described using a multitude of different words. Art may be beautiful, plain, calming, hideous, frightening, angry, or whimsical. It can also bring about certain feelings, emotions, and memories. For instance, a work of art may make us feel happy, sad, or scared, or it might remind us of a lazy Sunday afternoon.

For some individuals, however, the love of art goes far beyond simply viewing works of art. Those that are talented and dedicated enough often prefer to create works of art as well. Although many are often skilled in their chosen medium, serious artists will often seek additional tutelage in order to hone their existing skills and learn new ones.

An art professor is a type of teacher that can do just. These types of art teachers typically work at colleges and universities teaching undergraduate and graduate students. In most cases, professors are tenured at the university or college where they teach. This means that they are rewarded a lifetime of employment, and can't be dismissed except for good reason.

An assistant professor is a relatively new professor that has not received tenure yet, and an associate professor is a full-tenured professor that has proven his research and teaching abilities. An associate professor can also be promoted once more, and with this promotion comes the title "full professor", or simply professor.

The types of courses that an art professor might teach will usually depend on his own passions and skills. Those who paint will often teach painting courses, for instance, while those that draw will typically teach drawing courses. An art professor might also teach courses in art restoration and art history.

Work Environment

Like other professors, the sole responsibility of an art professor is to teach. This might involve lecturing about different artists or types of art, or it may involve showing students how to improve their skills.

Depending on the subject matter being taught, they may teach in classroom settings or studios. Art history courses are usually best taught in classroom settings, for instance, while art techniques – like sculpting and painting – are best taught in a studio setting.

At times, an art professor might also take his teaching methods outside of the classroom and studio. Those teaching landscape painting, for instance, are usually better off teaching these skills outside, where beautiful landscapes are plentiful. Trips to museums and art galleries might also be on an art teacher's agenda as well.

An art professor's seniority level might also determine some of his duties and responsibilities. For instance, a full professor might also be the head of a department, such as the art department. In this position, he will usually be responsible for overseeing assistant and associate professors in that particular department.

Education Requirements

An art professor career often requires years of education. Those interested in pursuing art professor careers should start by earning a bachelor's degree in their chosen field.

The majority of universities and colleges across the country also require advanced degrees as well. In most cases, a Master's degree isn't enough to become an art professor. Those interested in art professor careers must usually earn their doctorate degrees.

Salary and Job Outlook


The average salary of an art professor can vary. In general, full professors will make more than assistant professors. Also, the size and reputation of a university might also have some impact on the professors' salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers together earned an average salary of $78,720 in 2017. Those working at technical and trade schools, however, earned an average salary of $55,160 in that same year.

Job Outlook

Because they are teaching art, art professors must be passionate about art themselves. They should also be relatively talented in their chosen mediums. For example, an art professor that teaches painting courses must be a skilled painter, with knowledge of advanced painting techniques.

Helpful Resources

  • 15 Noteworthy Art Professors in Miami

    Kathryn Pomroy
    Kathryn PomroyJan 02, 2017

    We have all had one teacher who has changed our lives. Somehow, despite the limitations of a classroom environment; they take a subject and give it life. Great teachers often determine the path a pupil will take; which career they will gravitate towards and where their ...

  • 15 Notable Art Professors in Toronto, Canada

    Tammi Edwards
    Tammi EdwardsJan 03, 2017

    Calling all Canadian artists! In this piece The Art Career Project will take you to the beautiful city of Toronto and introduce you to some of its premier art professors; 15 to be exact. Find out their secrets to success and how they continuously motivate students of ar...

  • Get Paid to Do What You Love: Seven Strategies to Make Money as an Artist

    Anna Ortiz
    Anna OrtizJul 10, 2017

    Doing what you love and making a living from your art is a goal that is within reach. Here, we offer a few tips to help you get your dreams off the ground. Try these seven strategies to make money as an artist.

  • Five Ways to Jumpstart Your Art Career

    Anna Ortiz
    Anna OrtizJul 17, 2017

    An art career cannot happen overnight. Becoming an artist takes dedication, hard work, and a plan. Learning early lessons about how to develop your skills, attract clients, and market yourself can help you generate early results.

  • 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Art Career

    Anna Ortiz
    Anna OrtizJul 19, 2017

    The life of an artist is often glamorized, while the real challenges of being an artist tend to be glossed over. Here we provide a few tips on how to deal with early challenges, like facing criticism, dealing with frustration, and meeting the right people.

Art Professor Jobs