Oklahoma Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

Oklahoma has made a commitment to arts education by adopting academic standards for the visual arts that affirm them as part of the core curriculum. The state’s visual arts curriculum is organized under four major strands: Presenting, Responding, Creating, and Connecting. A focus on these major strands is meant to integrate the arts into curriculum at all grade levels. The Oklahoma State Department of Education is responsible for teacher licensure in the state.

To become an art teacher in Oklahoma, complete the following 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 Oklahoma is to graduate from an accredited institution of higher education that has an approved teacher education program for your certification area. Your program should be approved by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation. Alternate routes are also available for out of state and non-traditional applicants, including American Board certification.

The classes you take as part of your degree will vary by institution, but state law has developed some general competencies for all teachers. According to state law, prospective teachers should understand how students learn and develop, and be able to provide learning opportunities that support students’ intellectual, social, and physical development at all grade levels. Teachers should understand different learning styles and communication techniques, be sensitive to ethnic differences and those with disabilities, and learn how to plan curriculum and assessments effectively. In particular, arts teachers should have:

  • a sound philosophical understanding of visual art education
  • an understanding of past, current, and future trends and issues in art education as well as art education research
  • a knowledge of developmentally appropriate visual art content, including aesthetics, art criticism, and art history
  • a working knowledge of, and experience in, integration of the arts with other fine arts areas as well as other academic disciplines
  • Understanding and has experience in the application of the elements and principles of art and design
  • Understanding art history including various styles, periods, ethnic groups, and cultures from around the world
  • A knowledge of aesthetics

According to state law, your degree should also include experience in various methods of art production and creative development, including drawing, figure drawing, color and design, painting, printmaking, sculpture, clay, applied design, and technology, as well as additional experience in metal, stone, fiber, paper-making, wood, and mixed media. As part of your degree, you should also develop a portfolio of your own artwork.



Step 2. Complete Testing

State law requires passing the following three tests before you can earn your license:

  • The Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET), which tests critical thinking and general education knowledge
  • The Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT) in Art (code 002), which tests arts-specific knowledge
  • The Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination (OPTE), which tests professional knowledge and skills. Choose either OPTE: PK–8 (code 075) or OPTE: 6–12 (076).

The certification exams are administered twelve times a year in a paper-based format across the state, as well as computer-based administrations available both state and nationwide. To register for the tests, see here. Study guides for all tests are available here.

The Praxis Core tests may be taken by students seeking entry into teacher preparation programs who do not meet the GPA requirement. Once you’ve successfully graduated with a bachelors from an accredited school, you are assumed to have met the Core requirements.



Step 3. Apply for Your License

In Oklahoma, you may apply for an Art (PK-12) certificate or add a Junior High Art endorsement to another certificate. The license to apply for is known as an Oklahoma Standard certificate, which is valid for five years. You can apply online through the Oklahoma Education Single Sign-On system. (If you’re new to the system, register for an account, then navigate to the “Oklahoma Educator Credentialing System.”) You can also download an application and mail it in.

In order to apply for a first-time license, you must have completed the education and testing steps above, and have on file with the Oklahoma State Board of Education a current, clear Oklahoma criminal history record search from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation as well as a current, clear national fingerprint-based criminal history record search from the FBI. You must have an institutional recommendation, and transcripts must show your degree.

The fee for a Standard Certificate is $50.



Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Certificate

You can renew your Standard Certificate, which is good for five years, with the  Oklahoma Education Single Sign-On system or send in a completed Application for Renewal of Oklahoma Standard Certificate along with along with a $50 processing fee (check, cashier’s check, or money order) made payable to the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Mail the application and payment to:

Oklahoma State Department of Education
2500 North Lincoln Boulevard, #212
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105-4599

You may also choose to become nationally board certified, which may entitle you to a salary bonus.



Step 5. Pursue Graduate Work

Post-baccalaureate work can be a great way to hone your skills, enrich your teaching practice, and in some cases provide a salary bump. Options for graduate work in Oklahoma include the following:

  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Masters in Education in Art Education
  • Master of Arts in Secondary Education, K-12 Art
  • Master of Science in Family & Child Studies
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership
  • Masters in Education in English/Language Arts
  • Masters in Education in History/Social Studies
  • Masters in Education in in Instructional Technology
  • Masters in Education in Reading/Literacy
  • Masters in Education in Curriculum/Instruction
  • Masters in Education in Adult Education and Training
  • Master of Arts in Education /inTeacher Leadership


Oklahoma Art Teacher Salaries

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in Oklahoma (as of the 2012-2013 school year) is $31,606, 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 Teachers, Except Special Education17,01042,340
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education7,54044,010
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Middle School25045,510


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
Lawton, OK
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education49041,090
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education**39,850


Oklahoma City, OK
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education5,05043,190
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education2,97045,490
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Middle School5048,090
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education3,86047,720


Tulsa, OK
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education4,28046,140
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education1,65046,040
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education2,96045,040


The state sets a schedule for minimum salaries based on degrees earned; the schedule for 2014-2015 may found here. The minimum starting salary for those with a bachelors degree and no experience is $31,600.

Information on postsecondary art, music, and drama 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
Oklahoma City OK
Northeastern Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area
Southeastern Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area

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