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design education technology

Advice to a designer considering teaching

Here’s an email I received on Sunday:

Hi Dawn,

In my search for art & design teaching information, I stumbled across your website. I’m writing in hopes that I can get some advice from you.

I’ve always been interested in teaching but never gave that career path a chance while I was in college. Now after being out of college for a few years, I’m finding myself drawn towards teaching even more.

Here’s my background: I have a BS in Communication with a focus on Advertising. Afterwards I went to a 2 year portfolio school to study advertising and design further.

I’m currently an Advertising Art Director and while I enjoy my job, I’ve always found more interest in helping others. My strengths lie in computer/graphic arts and web design. Do you have any advice for me as to how to get into teaching? Is my only option to go back to school for a Masters in Teaching? Is finding an art teaching job difficult?

Thanks in advance for your help. I think your website is great!

My reply:

I don’t know what state you are in, but here’s how it works in California:

To teach at the K-12 level (up through high school,) you need a Bachelor’s and a teaching credential. The teaching credential can take a year full-time, or a year and a half part-time at an accelerated evening program like I did. Accelerated doesn’t mean poorer quality education, but that you double-time it and get a course done in nine weeks instead of eighteen. I went to Chapman University College.

To teach at the college level, you need a master’s in a subject area (not in teaching). However, there is a loop-hole here. I got to teach part-time at the community college because I was an active professional at the time. Now that I am not actively freelancing, I do not qualify.

I’d recommend contacting your local community college district and see if they would hire you to teach a digital art class in the evenings or weekend. It was a great way for me to find out that I really do like teaching.

Finding an art teaching job is tougher than English, Science or Math. However, I found plenty of opportunities anyway. I found a great position teaching web and graphic design at a new high school. Last year I taught art and drama. It pays to be flexible. You might find out what else a BS in Communication can qualify you for, in addition to the design realm.

Good luck!

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

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