In 2012 Alabama schools graduated seventy-two percent of its student population. In a new plan known as Alabama 2020; Alabama schools now seek to raise the graduation rate to ninety percent by the year 2020. With this ambitious goal in mind, all educators in the Alabama school system, even those in the arts and humanities, are encouraged to become familiar with objectives lined out in the 2020 plan.
Each objective – which includes topics such as health and wellness and civic responsibility – will impact how classroom educators perform their day-to-day responsibilities.
In order to become an art teacher in Alabama, you must first be certified through the Alabama State Department of Education Certification Office after completing the steps shown here:
Step 1. Complete the Appropriate Art Education Degree Program
The most common certification that most new teachers seek is the class B certification that involves seeking a bachelor’s degree, completing the Teacher Education Program, and applying for state certification.
The first step to becoming an art teacher in the Alabama school system is obtaining the proper education. The most direct route is to seek a bachelor’s degree in visual arts through an approved program and complete a TEP (Teacher Education Program) that consists of pedagogical courses and a student teaching experience.
These programs are available as accelerated four-year programs, or the more conventional fifth year and sixth year programs that consist of all required coursework in the visual art content area as well as in pedagogy.
Before selecting a certification program, you will need to decide what grade you plan to teach, as the Alabama State Department of Education certifies art teachers at one of three levels:
- Middle School – Grades 4-8
- Secondary – Grades 6-12 (Most programs will include 32 semester hours in the field of study with 19 of those required to be upper division courses)
- Elementary-Secondary – Grades P-12 (Most programs will include 32 semester hours in the field of study with 19 of those required to be upper division courses)
Admission to the Teachers Education Program
Qualifying to move on to the TEP component of the degree program requires the following:
- Maintain a C+ average
- Receive a passing score on a writing exam
- Receive a passing score on the TEP interview
- Successful completion of Speech with a grade C or higher
- Complete 29 semester hours of professional studies
- Complete 33 semester hours in the teaching field
- Take Orientation to Teacher Education
- Complete nine additional semester hours of math
- Take one additional semester of science
- Prove basic music skills either by testing or taking an additional course
Step 2. Pass the Alabama Educator Certification Testing Program (AECTP) and Praxis II Test
To become certified as an art educator in Alabama you must successfully pass the
Alabama Educator Certification Testing Program (AECTP), which will test your basic skills in writing, math and reading. You will also have to pass the Praxis II. As an art teacher, you will want to select the component that has an emphasis in visual arts. You must take the AECTP if you are a new teacher or for any of the following scenarios:
- Applicant for the Professional Educator Certificate.
- Applicant for the Alternative Baccalaureate-Level Certificate, a Special Alternative Certificate, or a Preliminary Certificate.
- Applying for a Specialty Certificates.
- If you allowed your certificate to lapse more than six months.
To apply for the AECTP:
- Decide if you will take the test online or on paper.
- Complete your registration online paying with a MasterCard or VISA only.
- Go to the testing center on your designated day and take the test.
To apply for the Praxis:
- First complete the ACTEP
- Register for the test online, by phone, or mail (Register in the name exactly as it appears on your ID).
- Pay the appropriate fee. The Praxis has two sections specific to art:
- 5134 Art: Content and Analysis.
- 5135 Art: Content and Knowledge.
- Print a copy of the ticket and take it with you to the test center along with your valid government photo ID.
- Scores are available online within two weeks of testing.
Step 3. Apply for Certification With the Alabama Department of Education
Once you have completed your education, you will then need to meet a background and clearance requirement and prove you have passed your tests prior to the issuance of your certificate.
To complete the application process and obtain your Alabama teacher certification here are the steps.
- Obtain a passing score on the appropriate Praxis II test(s) of the Alabama Educator Certification Testing Program (AECTP) and include them with your application (Alabama State-Approved Program Approach form)
- Fill out your application including all documentation and school transcripts
- Pay a $30 non-refundable fee
- Complete a background check including fingerprinting (forms available at the link above)
- Supply proof of your teaching experience (verification form available at the link above)
- Complete all statements and declarations on the form, sign the document, and mail to the address on the forms
The school through which you completed your education and TEP will submit an institutional recommendation to the Alabama State Department of Education on your behalf.
Step 4. Pursue Continuing Education and Renew Your License
You will be required to reinstate your certificate within five years (60 months).
When the time comes for you to apply for the renewal of your certificate, you must submit an application packet. This will include:
- Proof of fifty clock hours of professional development with official transcripts.
- A $30 application fee that must be in a money order or certified check payable to the Alabama Department of Education or through the Alabama Teacher Certification Online Payment System, with a credit card.
- Have completed a background check by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Verify your educational experience with Supplement EXP.
Appropriate coursework includes:
- Common Core training- while the arts are not specifically included in Common Core; the arts can be a vital element in teaching the basic principals of critical thinking among other skills that cross over into the Common Core subjects.
- Introduction to Technology- As the world becomes more reliant on technology, the visual arts will become more important to it as a key component of visual enhancement.
- Masters and Doctorate coursework- because continuing education is a requirement to maintain certification, many teachers may opt for continuing education through formal education. Increasing education often leads to higher pay and better opportunities for future employment.
Alabama Art Teacher Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for an elementary teacher in Alabama as of May 2013 was $48,970. The average salary for a middle school teacher was $48,830, while the average salary for a high school teacher was slightly higher at $50,170. The BLS does not provide data on art teacher salaries as a separate unit, but tracks salaries for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers as a whole.
Salaries also vary by experience level. According to the Alabama Department of Labor, for entry-level elementary teachers, the average annual salary is $40,390, while the average salary for experienced teachers is $54, 617. For Middle School teachers, the entry level salary is $40,675, while the average salary for experienced teachers is $54, 261. Secondary School teachers earn an entry level salary of $40,543, while the average salary for experienced teachers is $56,369.
It’s also important to point out that salaries vary by location. A sample of the salary differences from the Alabama Department of Labor is below (note that not all areas track salaries for all locations):
For 2014, the state’s labor department has set a minimum salary of $36,867 for entry-level teachers with a bachelors’ degree. The salary rises to $42,395 with a Masters, $45,714 with six years of education, and $49,032 with a doctoral degree. The pay scale tops out at those with a doctoral degree who have been teaching for 27 or more years; their minimum salary is $62,040.
Information on postsecondary art teacher salaries throughout Alabama can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics: