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Massachusetts Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

Art Teachers make a positive impact on students’ lives: in a longitudinal study of 25,000 secondary school students, those with higher involvement in the arts scored better on measures of persistence than their peers with lower arts involvement. Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is the state’s licensing agency.

To become an Art Teacher in Massachusetts, follow these steps:

Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Prep Program
Complete Testing
Apply for a License
Maintain and Upgrade Your License
Pursue Graduate Work

 


 

Step 1. Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Prep Program

The first step to becoming an art teacher in Massachusetts is to earn a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.

The Licensure Help section of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides an interactive program that displays approved teacher prep programs for each grade. In Massachusetts, art teachers are certified at the pre K through grade 8 or grades 5-8 level. There is currently one program approved for art teachers in each grade level within the state. Detailed information on reciprocity with other states is available here and at the Licensure Help site.

To verify completion of a bachelor’s degree, forward an official transcript to the Office of Educator Licensure. The transcript must be signed by the Registrar and show the degree and date conferred. Please include your educator license number, MEPID number, or social security number on all documents.

 


 

Step 2. Complete Testing

Passing scores on the following tests are required to become an art teacher in Massachusetts at either grade level:

  1. MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test
  2. Visual Art subject matter test

1. The Communication and Literacy Skills test requires two subtests, one in reading and one in writing.

Reading subtest
This subtest includes 42 multiple-choice items.

Writing subtest

This subtest includes 35 multiple-choice items, seven short-answer sentence correction items, and two open-response items—a summary exercise and a composition exercise. The summary exercise requires you to spend about 20–30 minutes preparing an adequate response; the composition exercise requires you to spend about 45–60 minutes to prepare an adequate response. The multiple-choice and short-answer item section counts for 50 percent of your score, the summary exercise counts for 15 percent of your test score, and the composition exercise counts for 35 percent of your total subtest score.

2. The Visual Art subject matter tests include 100 multiple-choice items and two open-response items requiring candidates to spend about 20–30 minutes each to prepare an adequate response. The multiple-choice section accounts for 80 percent and the open-response section counts for 20 percent of your total test score.

Test prep materials and other detailed information is available from the MTEL website.

 


 

Step 3. Apply for Your License

As an art teacher, you may be certified at the pre K through grade 8 or grades 5-8 level. There are three main types of licenses for art teachers in the state:

  1. Preliminary
  2. Initial
  3. Professional

1. A preliminary license, valid for 5 years of employment, is for those who have not completed an approved teacher prep program. For a preliminary license at either grade level, the requirements are below:

  • Possession of a bachelor’s degree
  • Achieve a passing score on the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test
  • A passing score on the Visual Art subject matter test

If you want to add arts teacher certification to an existing license, see the detailed guidelines at Licensure Help section here.

2. You can also go straight to applying for an Initial License. These are good for five years and can be extended once for another five years. The requirements are as follows:

  • Possession of a bachelor’s degree
  • Completion of a Massachusetts Visual Art Pre K-8 Approved Program
  • Achieve a passing score on the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test
  • A passing score on the Visual Art subject matter test

A variety of other paths to an Initial License apply; see the detailed guidelines at the Licensure Help section here.

You may apply for a preliminary or initial license online at Educator Licensing and Recruitment (ELAR) System, or download a printable application. You must make the appropriate application payment, and have an official transcript documented on file with the Department in order to receive an evaluation for licensure.

Preliminary and Initial licenses are not renewable.

3. The next level of license to apply for is the Professional License. Read Step. 4 below to learn more.

 


 

Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your License

Professional license, grades 5-12

The requirements for a professional license at the grades 5-12 level are as follows:

  1. Possession of an Initial Visual Art 5-12 license
  2. At least three full years of employment in the role of the license, including completion of a one-year induction program with a mentor and 50 hours of mentored experience beyond the induction year
  3. One of the following:
    • Possession of a Professional teacher license in another field
    • Completion of an approved master’s degree program or other advanced graduate program for this field at the appropriate grade level. (Prior to beginning this option, you must possess an Initial license in this field.)
    • If you have already completed a master’s degree or other advanced graduate program that does not meet the above, completion of at least 18 semester hours of credit or the equivalent at the graduate level in an approved program for this field at the appropriate grade level which, when combined with previous graduate level studies, completes the requirements for an appropriate master’s degree program. Prior to beginning this option, you must possess an Initial license in this field.
    • Completion of a master’s degree program or other advanced graduate program in the discipline relevant to the license sought in a graduate or professional school other than education in an accredited college or university or
    • Completion of a Department-sponsored Performance Assessment Program for this field at the appropriate grade level. Prior to beginning this option, you must possess an Initial license in this field
    • Completion of an approved district based program for this field at the appropriate grade level of at least 50 contact hours of content-based seminars beyond the induction year. Prior to beginning this option, you must possess an Initial license in this field.
    • Programs leading to eligibility for master teacher status, such as those sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and others accepted by the Commissioner for this field at the appropriate grade level. Prior to beginning this option, you must possess an Initial license in this field.

Professional license at the pre K-grade 8 level:

Requirements for a professional license at the pre K-grade 8 level are:

  1. Possession of an Initial Visual Art 5-12 license
  2. At least three full years of employment in the role of the license, including completion of a one-year induction program with a mentor and 50 hours of mentored experience beyond the induction year
  3. One of the following:
    • Completion of a master’s degree program or other advanced graduate program in the academic discipline appropriate to the license sought in a graduate or professional school other than education in an accredited college or university.
    • Programs leading to eligibility for master teacher status, such as those sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and others accepted by the Commissioner for this field at the appropriate grade level.
    • Completion of an approved district based program for the Professional License
    • Possession of a Professional teacher license in another field
    • The completion of an approved, non-degree, 12-credit Professional licensure program of which no fewer than 9 credits are in the subject matter knowledge or pedagogy based on the subject matter knowledge for this field and at this grade level.
    • Completion of a Department-sponsored Performance Assessment Program for this field at the appropriate grade level.
    • For those who have completed any master’s or higher degree or other advanced graduate program not described earlier, the completion of 12 credits of graduate level courses in subject matter knowledge or pedagogy based on the subject matter knowledge of the Professional license sought; these may include credits earned prior to application for the license. or
    • Completion of an approved master’s degree program or other advanced graduate program for this field at the appropriate grade level.

Detailed definitions of many of these terms may be found at the Licensure Help section of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Renewing a Professional License

To renew a professional license, a total of 150 Professional Development Points (PDPs) is required. A Professional Development Point (PDP) is a unit of measurement of professional development activities. For example, one clock hour is equivalent to one PDP; one undergraduate semester hour (or college credit) is equivalent to 15 PDPs; one graduate semester hour (or college credit) is equivalent to 22.5 PDPs; and one Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is equivalent to 10 PDPs. For more information, visit the Recertification Guidelines for Massachusetts Educators.

Applications for renewing a professional license are available here. The fee is $100.00. With new regulations, all educators must renew every 5 calendar years to keep a Professional license active.

 


 

Step 5. Pursue Graduate Work

Post-baccalaureate work is required to advance through the Massachusetts licensure system. Graduate programs available in the state, many related to arts teaching, are below:

  • Master of Arts in Art Education
  • Master of Arts in Studio Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Teaching, Art Education
  • Master of Science in Art Education
  • BFA/MA Five Year Program
  • M.A. in Education/Administration and Supervision
  • Master of Arts in Education/Curriculum and Instruction
  • M.A. in Education/Special Education
  • M.S.Ed – Professional Development (Grades Pre K-12)
  • Master of Education, Adult Learning and Workforce Education
  • Master of Education in Administration
  • Master of Education in Curriculum/Instruction

 




 


Massachusetts Art Teacher Salaries

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in Massachusetts (as of the 2012-2013 school year) is $40,600, higher than the national average of $36,141. A Boston Business Journal analysis found that the median teacher salary in Massachusetts was $68,742 in 2012, a 2.5 percent decline from the $69,535 median recorded in 2011.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data on art teacher salaries as a separate unit, but tracks salaries for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers as larger categories. The department reports the following annual mean wages and employment numbers as of May 2013:

Occupation Title Employment Annual Mean Salary
Elementary School Teachers 26,160 $68,360
Middle School Teachers 16,910 $67,950
Secondary School Teachers 23,470 $69,340

However, teacher salaries can vary significantly by location. A sample of the median salaries and employment figures as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for some major cities appears below:

Occupation Title Employment Annual Mean Salary

 

Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH
Elementary School Teachers 18,670 $68,160
Middle School Teachers 12,750 $67,720
Secondary School Teachers 16,690 $69,850
 
Framingham, MA NECTA Division
Elementary School Teachers 1,230 $68,060
Middle School Teachers 830 $66,340
Secondary School Teachers 1,400 $65,940
 
Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA-NH NECTA Division
Elementary School Teachers 1,130 $60,420
Middle School Teachers 640 $60,890
Secondary School Teachers 920 $62,560
 
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, MA-NH NECTA Division
Elementary School Teachers 610 $63,310
Middle School Teachers 340 $62,320
Secondary School Teachers 410 $63,880
 
New Bedford
Elementary School Teachers 770 $75,380
Middle School Teachers 450 $72,930
Secondary School Teachers 570 $74,690
 
Springfield, MA-CT
Elementary School Teachers 2,880 $63,840
Middle School Teachers 1,550 $64,170
Secondary School Teachers 2,800 $64,640
 
Worcester, MA-CT
Elementary School Teachers 2,580 $64,590
Middle School Teachers 1,660 $66,430
Secondary School Teachers 2,140 $67,770

There is no statewide salary schedule, and salaries vary by school district. In Boston, the starting salary for a public school teacher with a bachelors degree is $50,999 and $102, 347 for those with a doctorate, as of November 2014. A breakdown of the salary schedule for Boston Public Schools may be found here.

Further information on postsecondary art teacher salaries in various areas of the state can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area Name
Employment
Annual Median Salary
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
3690
72460
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
3350
73260
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
750
72520
Northwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
80
Estimate Not Released
North Central Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
170
81520

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