South Dakota Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

In an interview at a South Dakota university, one art student attending the teacher preparation program was asked what inspired her to become a teacher. Her reply was her high school art teacher who saw her talent and encouraged her to pursue art and teaching.

As a potential new teacher in South Dakota you not only have the opportunity to have your dream career, but you can also inspire someone else. And it’s a great time to be a teacher in South Dakota. The salaries for teachers in the state have increased over 5% recently and South Dakota’s cost of living is one of the least expensive. Choosing to become an art teacher was the first step in your new career. Here are the next steps to take:

Earn a Degree
Take the South Dakota Exams
Send in the Application for Licensure
Continuing Education



Step 1. Earn a Degree

After you graduate from high school and are ready to continue on your educational track as an art teacher, you will need to choose a program suitable for teacher education. There are several options to choose from, but at the very least you will need an undergraduate degree along with a teaching program. In South Dakota, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) must accredit any school you choose in order for you to qualify for licensing.

The degree program will give you a broad education so that you are well prepared to teach. You will take courses in many subjects that are general in nature as well as focused courses that are specific to art. If you elect to teach elementary education, your courses will remain more general in nature. If you plan on teaching in junior and senior high school, you will need to take more art classes as most of your day will be spent only teaching art related courses.

The teaching program portion of your education is designed to prepare you to develop lesson plans, and individualized educational plans. You will be able to determine a student’s educational needs, as well as create an intervention plan when students aren’t performing well. The type of courses you will take include:

  • Reading courses
  • Exceptionalities
  • Technology
  • Native American Studies
  • Human Relations
  • Middle Years Competencies (grades 7-12)
  • Instruction Methods and Discipline

Once you have become certified, you will also need to take the following two courses:



Step 2. Take the South Dakota Exams

Every educator in South Dakota is expected to show that they are competent to teach by taking and passing a set of exams. The agency that performs this service is the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

There are multiple exams that are required depending on the grade level you will be teaching. As an educator you will need to take the basic skills tests that prove your abilities in writing, math, and reading comprehension. You will also have a test in your subject area. These tests all have minimum passing scores, time requirements, and exam rules. Each test is available to take at predetermined testing centers.

The rules for testing are very strict. They require that you have a ticket with you when you arrive on the day of your test. You will also need to show your ID. The name on the ticket will need to match your ID exactly or they won’t let you into the testing center. The ticket will be available to you to print out once you have gone through the registration process.

To register for your exams here are the basic steps:



Step 3. Send in the Application for Licensure

The South Dakota Department of Education, Certification Office is responsible for processing your application. Initial Certification Applications can be performed online or by mail unless you are a new teacher. As a new teacher, you must sign up and apply online. In South Dakota there are three levels of certification:

One-Year Certificate

A one-year certificate will be given to you if you don’t have six credits (past your original bachelor’s degree) in the past five years or have taken and passed the Praxis II exam. You can renew this certificate only one time in order to allow you to earn the six credits needed to move to the next level. You will need to fill out the application and send in all the necessary paperwork in order to receive your One-Year Certificate.

Five-Year Certificate

A five-year certificate will be given to you once you have completed all the necessary requirements the one-year certificate. Once you have completed these, you will need to fill out the application for your Five-Year Certificate and send in all the proof necessary to show that you are qualified to receive the certificate. You will also be required to pay a fee.

Ten-Year Certificate

If you decide at some point in your career to go on to pursue a PhD or National Board Teacher Certification and you complete all the requirements of listed under level one you are eligible for a Ten-Year Certificate. The ten years are determined starting from the year your PhD or National Board Certification was earned.

As an art teacher along with your license, you will also need to add a special endorsement to your certification: 620-K-12 Art education.

Documents should be mailed to:

Department of Education, Certification Office,
800 Governors Dr.
Pierre, SD 57501

Questions can be directed to: [email protected]



Step 4. Continuing Education

The basic requirement for continuing education credits is six units. By fulfilling this minimum requirement, you will be able to renew your license. If your plan is to seek the Ten Year Certificate, you will need to pursue a graduate degree. There are many benefits investing in a graduate degree. There are obvious possibilities of greater salary increases and higher retirement benefits initially. Beyond that, there are also social impacts.

People with PhDs are generally perceived to possess better social skills. They also tend to have better access to professional networks and gain higher recognition in our society. All of these benefits may some day transfer into job security or career opportunities especially as the workforce becomes more competitive in the arts.


South Dakota Art Teacher Salaries

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in South Dakota as of the 2012-2013 school year was $32,019, somewhat lower than the national average of $36,141. The average annual pay for South Dakota teachers is $39,580, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

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 EmploymentMean Annual Salary
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education3,94040,400
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education1,95041,140
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education3,38040,530


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 EmploymentMean Annual Salary
Sioux Falls, SD
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education91041,770
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education51042,020
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education68041,520


Rapid City, SD
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education57042,900
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education36043,460
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education65042,650


Salary schedules vary by school district and are developed after negotiations with the union. Sioux Falls School District salary schedules may be found here.

Information on postsecondary art, music, and drama teacher salaries in some areas of the state can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state average salaries for these teachers is $58,190.

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Eastern South Dakota nonmetropolitan area

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