Illinois Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

The Illinois State Board of Education is responsible for teacher licensing within the state. 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. In addition, a student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for their academic achievement.

To become an art teacher in Illinois, complete the following steps:

Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Prep Program
Complete Testing
Apply for Your 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 Illinois is to complete an approved teachers prep program at an approved program in Illinois or out of state. A list of approved programs in Illinois may be found here. 34 schools in the state currently offer programs that are approved to prepare art teachers.

In order to lead to certification, the program must include coursework on cross-categorical special education methods, methods of reading, and reading in arts-related areas. The state department of education encourages you to speak to an advisor at the institution you’re interested in to learn about their detailed requirements.

If you’re considered a teachers’ prep program as part of a bachelor’s degree, note that the state department of education says that the program should:

  • Make sure you meet the Illinois Standards for Teachers and applicable Content-Area Standards, including coursework addressing the psychology of, the identification of, and the methods of instruction for the exceptional child, including without limitation the learning disabled
  • Include 32 semester hours in art or an art major
  • Include pre-student teaching field experiences
  • Include art-related student teaching at the appropriate grade level
  • Be 4 to 4.5 years long

Note that you must pass all teacher education coursework requirements with a grade of C or better.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree and want to become certified as an art teacher, you might consider a licensure-only program, a master’s degree in education program, or an alternative route to licensure program.

After you complete an approved Illinois teacher prep program, your school will notify ISBE via ELIS that you qualify for a license and/or endorsement. This process is called “entitlement.” By entering this notification, the institution confirms you have completed all necessary coursework and for your license.



Step 2. Complete Testing

If you haven’t already passed them for entry into a teacher prep program, the following tests are required for art teacher certification in Illinois:

  • A passing score on Illinois’ test of basic skills, the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP 400), or
  • Proof of an ACT Plus Writing composite score of at least 22 (and a minimum score of 19 on the writing test) or an SAT (critical reading and mathematics) composite score of 1030 (and a minimum score of 450 on the writing test)
  • The TAP (or ACT Plus Writing or SAT) is required for student teaching or before the last semester or term of the internship

Prior to beginning student teaching, you must also pass the Visual Arts (145) test, a four-hour, computer based test with 125 multiple-choice questions. A passing score is 240, and the test fee is $135. Test prep materials are available here.

Starting September 1, 2015, all teacher preparation candidates must also pass the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment).

A passing score on the Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) test for program completion may also be required.



Step 3. Apply for Your License

To become an art teacher in Illinois, you apply for a Professional Educator License (PEL). This license may be of two types: Secondary (6-12) or Special (K-12). You may also add an Art endorsement to other types of licenses. The fee is $75 if you completed an educator preparation program in Illinois; if you completed an educator preparation program outside Illinois, the application fee is $150. The application fee for adding an endorsement to an existing license is $50 per endorsement. All fees must be paid online with a credit or debit card at the time of application.

You may apply online here. The evaluation process takes approximately 120 business days, and you can check the status online.

In order for your license to be valid, you must register it with the Regional Superintendent of Schools. Licenses must be registered for $10 per year to prevent them from lapsing.



Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your License

A newly professional educator license is valid for five full fiscal years and renewable if professional development requirements are met. To renew, go here. Proposed legislation may change the renewal requirements soon, and so teachers are advised to check the Illinois State Board of Education website for detailed information.

No higher licenses for art teachers are currently available for Illinois, although teacher may choose to become board-certified.



Step 5. Pursue Graduate Work

A number of arts teachers choose to pursue graduate work as a means of keeping their certification current, strengthening their teaching, expanding their arts practice, and enriching their lives. Some of the education-related post-baccalaureate programs in Illinois, including those related to arts education, include:

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Art Education
  • Visual Art Education (K-12) MAT
  • Masters of Art in Teaching (MAT)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Secondary Education
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration
  • Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction
  • EDM in Art Education
  • PhD in Art Education



Illinois Art Teacher Salaries

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in Illinois (as of the 2012-2013 school year) is $37,166, slightly higher than the national average of $36,141.

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 EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Elementary School Teachers67,030$56,720
Middle School Teachers31,800$58,590
Secondary School Teachers49,230$67,580

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 (note that not all areas track salaries for all locations):

Occupation title EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Bloomington-Normal, IL
Elementary School Teachers710$55,820
Middle School Teachers390$56,450
Secondary School Teachers510$56,700


Cape Girardeau-Jackson, MO-IL
Elementary School Teachers250$41,090
Middle School Teachers230$44,990
Secondary School Teachers420$44,790


Champaign-Urbana, IL
Elementary School Teachers1,370$44,000
Middle School Teachers450$46,690
Secondary School Teachers460$46,070


Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI
Elementary School Teachers45,520$59,280
Middle School Teachers22,700$60,850
Secondary School Teachers34,300$72,270


Danville, IL
Elementary School Teachers560$50,500
Middle School Teachers180$47,580
Secondary School Teachers210$54,490


Decatur, IL
Elementary School Teachers1,110$51,860
Middle School Teachers410$50,710
Secondary School Teachers440$53,330


Peoria, IL
Elementary School Teachers2,180$49,530
Middle School Teachers1,110$51,320
Secondary School Teachers1,580$58,420


Rockford, IL
Elementary School Teachers2,220$58,480
Middle School Teachers1,080$61,170
Secondary School Teachers1,350$59,550


Springfield, IL
Elementary School TeachersEstimate not yet released$56,730
Middle School Teachers740$56,790
Secondary School Teachers980$62,750

Each school district in the state sets their own salary schedule. According to the Illinois State Board of Education Illinois Teacher Salary Study, the median scheduled salary for those with a bachelors degree in 2013-2014 is $36,635, while the highest median scheduled salary was $73,399. The complete salary survey can be found here.

Information on postsecondary art teacher salaries throughout Illinois can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL Metropolitan Division
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL-IN-WI
St. Louis MO-IL
Northwest Illinois nonmetropolitan area
East Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
South Illinois nonmetropolitan area

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