How to Find an Art Professor Teaching Job

man in a suit speaking to a group of men in suits

I asked five art professors from around the country if they would offer advice for recent graduates who are looking to get a job as a college level art instructor.

Of those asked, two did not reply. One was busy putting up their own art show and promised to try to think of something (although they weren’t sure they had anything to offer). One wanted to be honest without being identified, and one had a lot of good things to say.

Thank you to the professors who made time in their busy schedules to offer real-world advice to fellow artists.

Professor Vicki Lynn Wilson’s Advice

To begin with, get in the application pool for every school you want to teach in for about February or March. You can find the application forms on the school’s websites. They will likely be hiring their Fall instructors at the end of Winter term or early in Spring term. Submit any time you can but know that there is a cycle, too.

Keep your teaching philosophy and application information up to date and look at the school’s mission statement to see if you are a good fit.

Try to take every class that is offered but beware of overloading yourself. If you are offered one or two classes at one or more schools-take them! If you are offered 5 different classes at 3 schools you may be biting off more than you can chew. Taking on too much will make you a less effective educator.

Be willing to teach as many different classes as you can, especially if you are teaching foundations. A diverse knowledge base is valuable and a good thing to have as a teacher because it helps you see the whole picture of education, not just your part. Also, the more you know how to teach, the more likely you are to have classes in the future.

Vicki Lynn Wilson has been teaching since 2005. At the time of this writing (2012), she teaches Drawing and Color Theory at PCC Sylvania and 3-D Design and Sculpture at Portland State University. She maintains a sculptural studio practice and was the “summer artist in residence” at PCC Sylvania’s North View Gallery.

Anonymous Adjunct Professor’s Advice:

If you are going to be an Adjunct Professor you should know that you are the academic equivalent of migrant labor. Administrators get to string you along contract to contract knowing they can jerk you around however they need/want to because everybody involved knows how easily you can be replaced.

You will likely have to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet and aren’t likely to receive the benefits or pay a full time Professor gets even if between your multiple jobs you teach more than full time.

If you can adapt to this situation and embrace your role as a mercenary, teaching can work pretty well for you. What you’ll lose in stability you’ll make up for with a good hourly pay rate, a potentially stimulating and interesting job and a good story to tell. If I hadn’t paid so much for the privilege I think my opinion of the job would be much higher.

More Reading

If you are considering earning an MFA degree in order to teach on the college level, check out the Faculty and Staff Pay Data at The Chronicle.

Check out Michael Mandiberg’s Advice on Academic Arts Job Interviews.