The Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s 2009 Vision Statement includes a commitment that arts instruction will be effectively integrated into student educational experiences in all Washington state schools. 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 less involvement in the arts.
To become an art teacher in Washington, follow these steps:
|Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Prep Program|
|Complete WEST-E Tests|
|Apply for a Residency Certificate|
|Apply for a Professional Certificate|
|Pursue a Graduate Program|
Step 1. Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Prep Program
The first step to becoming an art teacher in Washington State is to earn a bachelor’s degree from any regionally accredited college or university and complete the approved teacher preparation program from any state.
This can be either an approved program through a regionally accredited college or university, or an approved alternative-route program. (Prospective Washington art teachers who haven’t completed a state-approved teacher prep program must verify that they have a regular teaching certificate from another state, and have taught K-12 classes for at least three years.)
Majors and minors can be in any area, although visual arts classes, including studio time and art history, will be helpful for prospective art teachers.
Many prospective Washington state art teachers apply for their teacher prep programs in the second year of their bachelors’ degree and begin the program in their third year. A directory of Washington colleges or universities approved by the Professional Educator Standards Board to offer teacher preparation programs is located here. Ten schools currently offer an endorsement in Visual Arts (in Washington, “endorsements” allows teachers to instruct in a given area). A Visual Arts endorsement can be used to teach at any grade level.
Before beginning an approved teacher preparation program, prospective teachers must receive a passing score on the WEST-B (Basic Skills Test). However, the Professional Educator Standards Board has established some exceptions and extensions, listed here.
The WEST-B measures basic skills in reading, writing, and math that are essential for success in teacher prep programs. The West-B involves three multiple-choice subtests (covering reading, writing, and math) as well as two writing prompts.
Teacher prep classes in the visual arts engage students in traditional and contemporary art-making processes, including studio time; survey the history of art, and help foster respect for various art forms and the contexts in which they are made; and introduce students to an array of historical and contemporary artists. They also focus on the theories and techniques of art education. The required number of credit hours varies, but is generally over sixty.
Most teacher-prep programs are two years long, and all involve a student-teaching component towards the end. Prospective arts students will need to complete a supervised practicum in teaching the visual arts.
Students may complete teacher-prep programs alongside their bachelors’ degrees, or as post-baccalaureate program (once their degrees are finished).
Step 2. Complete WEST-E Tests
In addition, prospective teachers are required to pass the WEST-E content knowledge test for their Visual Art endorsement, and any additional endorsements they are seeking. The WEST-E measures knowledge in a specific area, and includes a multiple-choice test.
Currently, the WEST-E tests for visual arts is based on the competencies outlined here, which include understanding the psychological, physical, emotional, and intellectual development of students, using artistic knowledge and skills, communicating through he arts, understanding the vocabulary and aims of art, and relating the arts to other areas of life.
Both the WEST-B and West-E are criterion-referenced, meaning they test knowledge against a specific criterion rather than relative to other applicants. Tests can be taken at a computer or on paper and are available at hundreds of locations around the US. In Washington state, the WEST-E and WEST-B can be taken at Auburn, Lacey, Spokane Valley, Bellingham, Pasco, Tacoma, Bremerton, Port Angeles, College Place, Renton, Walla Walla, Everett, Seattle, Yakima, and Kennewick. Fees vary based on whether the tests are taken by computer or with a paper and pencil; a rundown of the fees is available here.
Step 3: Apply for a Residency Certificate
After obtaining a bachelors’ degree and completing a teachers’ prep program, prospective art teachers must apply for a Residency Certificate (First Issue), which is valid until a Washington school district has reported them as having taught full-time for 1.5 years or more. The Residency Certificate is then reissued with a three-year expiration date. To obtain a residency certificate, most applicants must:
- Present evidence of good moral character and personal fitness.
- Have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university.
- Have completed an approved teacher prep program, an approved alternate-route program, or be certified outside Washington and have taught for three years
- Have completed the preparation for teaching in the Visual Arts endorsement, which includes related coursework and a supervised practicum
Applicants must also complete the WEST-B and WEST-E tests within 12 months, if they have not already, and send the official score report to OSPI Certification. Applicants may submit an application online or download and print the necessary forms.
All teachers in Washington state must be finger-printed and undergo a background check, which can be done as part of the application for the Residency Certificate.
Step 4: Apply for a Professional Certificate
The Professional Certificate is usually awarded to teachers who complete the ProTeach Portfolio, an evidence-based assessment that evaluates teachers on the effectiveness of their teaching, and their professional development and contributions, as well as 12 other criteria. Applicants can submit their portfolio at two times during the year, and must meet or exceed the ProTeach Portfolio passing score as set by the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB).
In other situations, the Professional Certificate is awarded to an individual who holds a teaching certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, or has undergone an advanced certificate program in another state is comparable to Washington’s. All applicants must also have completed coursework on abuse issues.
Step 5: Pursue a Graduate Program
A masters’ degree in education allows teachers to develop broader and deeper understandings of the teaching process, themselves, and the world. Washington state takes into account the highest degree earned alongside the number of teachers hours completed when allocating salaries. Masters’ degrees can be completed before earning certification, or after a period of teaching has already occurred. In Washington state, masters tend to be of four types:
- Masters of Arts (MA) (Degree): Master of Arts degree is the generic label for the graduate degree earned after completion of a bachelor’s degree. It may be offered in many fields, including education, but a program advertised as “Master of Arts in Education” is usually designed to instruct teachers who have already earned a certificate.
- Masters of Education (M.Ed) (Degree): Designed for individuals who already possess a teaching certificate and are interested in acquiring additional understanding of teaching or who wish to add a certificate in another education role, such as administrator or school counselor.
- Masters in Teaching (MIT) (Degree and Certificate): These programs are usually designed for a candidate who has a subject content degree and wants to add a teaching certificate along with a Masters Degree. Some are designed to be completed in as little as one year.
- Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) (Degree and Certificate): Offers a path to certification for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree. In Washington, these programs usually assume candidates already have necessary content knowledge, so the programs concentrate on curriculum, methods, and other education coursework.
Washington Art Teacher Salaries
According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in Washington (as of the 2012-2013 school year) is $36,335, in line with 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||Employment||Mean Annual Salary|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||26,010||59,680|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||9,900||60,390|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||12,580||61,210|
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||Employment||Mean Annual Salary|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||630||59,520|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||410||59,230|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||390||60,150|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||920||60,960|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||300||59,880|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||250||61,870|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||1,120||58,170|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||510||59,260|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||600||60,320|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||380||60,200|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||150||59,020|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||170||61,600|
|Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||490||59,960|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||110||62,030|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||160||61,100|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||960||57,770|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||390||56,700|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||440||60,220|
|Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||9,740||60,480|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||3,540||61,630|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||4,500||63,030|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||2,110||59,940|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||540||60,470|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||1,000||62,060|
|Tacoma, WA Metropolitan Division|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||2,920||61,280|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||1,340||62,540|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||1,330||62,070|
Salaries rise depending on number of years taught and highest degree earned, but salary schedules vary depending on whether or not you are represented by a union. For more information, see the Washington state Human Resources Department webpage.
Information on postsecondary art teacher salaries throughout Washington and related areas can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics: