Minnesota Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

The Minnesota Department of Education has made a commitment to the visual arts as a key component of education for all children, by adopting state standards that focus on artistic foundations, artistic processes, artistic presentation, artistic critique, and more. In Minnesota, public elementary and middle schools must offer at least three and require at least two of the following four arts areas: dance, music, theater and visual arts. Public high schools must offer at least three and require at least one of the following five arts areas: dance, media arts, music, theater or visual arts.

The Educator Licensing Division of the Minnesota Department of Education is responsible for licensing teachers in the state. To become an art teacher in the state, complete the following steps:

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



Step 1. Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Prep Program

To be licensed as arts teacher in Minnesota, you must go through and be recommended by an approved teacher preparation program based in a college or university, and complete a bachelor’s degree at a regionally accredited school. A list of programs approved to prepare teachers for the Visual Arts K-12 license is here.

The state’s schools have different requirements for admission to their teacher prep programs, so you should consult their websites and advisors about admission requirements. Information on alternative pathways that may not require a teacher prep program is currently being updated by state law, but see more information here.

By state law, approved teacher prep programs for visual arts teachers in the state should train you to be able to demonstrate an understanding of how to teach aesthetic principles and habits; understand and evaluate art theory and art studio practice including the principles of design, theories of color, spatial relationships and perception; understand artistic metaphors; understand that philosophers of art have reached quite different conclusions about what art is; and a variety of other requirements. There is no credit hour requirement, although each school will have its rules.



Step 2. Complete Testing

Minnesota has a unique state-only series of tests. To become an art teacher in the state, you must pass MTLE Basic Skills test, pedagogy, and content-area tests.

Basic Skills

Information on the basic skills subtests is below. All subtests require a passing score of 240. Links to prep materials may be found here.

  • Reading: 60 minutes, $25 fee
  • Writing: 105 minutes, $25
  • Mathematics: 75 minutes, $25

Pedagogy Test

Choose either the Elementary or Secondary pedagogy test. Each pedagogy test consists of two subsets. All tests are 60 minutes and require a $35 fee. Links to prep materials may be found here.

Subject Tests

The Visual Arts test has two 60-minute subtests with approximately 50 multiple-choice questions here, each of which cost $35. Links to prep materials may be found here. Information on the subarea for each subtest and its weighting is below:

Subtest 1

  • Aesthetic Foundations & Critical Analysis 43%
  • Materials and Processes of Art 57%

Subtest 2

  • Historical and Cultural Contexts of Art 64%
  • Visual Arts Education and Careers 36%



Step 3. Apply for Your License

Art teachers in Minnesota are currently only licensed at the grade level K-12. Minnesota offers the following main types of licenses for arts teachers, which may be offered in one-year or five-year periods:

  • First-Time Full Professional Minnesota Education License: Available to applicants who have completed a teacher licensure program and bachelor’s degree or higher degree
  • Limited Full Time License: Available to applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher degree with at least a minor in the area being requested, but have not completed a teacher education program.
  • Limited Intern: Requires district and college/university signature.

Use the online system to apply for any of these licenses.



Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your License

You must apply to renew your license online. All licenses expire on June 30 of the year of expiration, and you must provide verification of having met the renewal requirements stated on the expiring license.

To renew a one-year license:

  1. Check your renewal conditions on your license to verify you are ready to renew.
  2. Complete an online application and submit the processing fee.
  3. Submit official verification (official transcripts and score results) that you have completed any required coursework or tests as indicated in the renewal conditions on your license.

The renewal of a five-year teaching license requires the completion of 125 hours of professional development that have been approved through the local school district’s continuing education committee, with evidence the four areas shown below:

  • Positive Behavioral Intervention Strategies
  • Accommodation, Modification, and Adaptation of Curriculum, Materials and Instruction
  • Key Warning Signs for Early-Onset Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents
  • Reading Preparation

Detailed information about the type of activities that can meet these requirements is available in the state statues, and further help is in the renewal guidebook here. Resources on opportunities for filling clock hour requirements are here.

Under new regulations, your 125 hours must also include activities that provide evidence of “integrating technology effectively with student learning to increase engagement and student achievement” and provide “evidence of work that demonstrates professional reflection and growth in best teaching practices.” The latter must include must include a reflective statement of professional accomplishment and assessment of professional growth. For more information, see the state statues.



Step 5. Pursue Graduate Work

Graduate work can contribute to earning higher levels of licensure in the Minnesota system, and may include a salary bump. Programs in the state include:

  • Master of Arts in Education
  • Master of Arts in Arts Education
  • Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Educational Administration and Leadership


Minnesota Art Teacher Salaries

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in Minnesota (as of the 2012-2013 school year) is $34,505, somewhat lower 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 Teachers24,730$61,070
Middle School Teachers8,900$62,390
Secondary School Teachers16,470$59,840


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 EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Duluth, MN-WI
Elementary School Teachers1,050$57,400
Middle School Teachers420$48,140
Secondary School Teachers780$50,980


Fargo, ND-MN
Elementary School Teachers1,380$50,840
Middle School Teachers290$50,660
Secondary School Teachers770$49,990


Grand Forks, ND-MN
Elementary School Teachers540$47,750
Middle School Teachers260$55,680
Secondary School Teachers360$49,620


La Crosse, WI-MN
Elementary School Teachers630$50,580
Middle School TeachersEstimates not released$55,000
Secondary School Teachers480$54,040


Mankato-North Mankato, MN
Elementary School Teachers380$51,860
Middle School Teachers80$51,590
Secondary School Teachers230$53,910


Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
Elementary School Teachers15,740$66,280
Middle School Teachers5,980$65,830
Secondary School Teachers9,430$64,880


Rochester, MN
Elementary School Teachers490$52,230
Middle School Teachers130$56,090
Secondary School Teachers240$52,360


St. Cloud, MN
Elementary School Teachers820$56,830
Middle School Teachers330$54,130
Secondary School Teachers750$60,670


Salary schedules vary by school district. In Minneapolis public schools, the starting salary for those with a bachelors degree as of 2014 was $41,292, $47,596 for those with a Masters degree, and $56,003 for those with a doctorate. The complete salary schedule for Minneapolis public schools can be found here.

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
Annual Median Salary
Grand Forks ND-MN
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI
Southeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released

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