5 Secrets for Landing a Job in Art Education

One of the most commonly asked questions I get from readers involves getting a job in the art education field. With the jobs being few and far between, and the economy down, finding a job as an art teacher can be increasingly difficult.  It doesn’t help that there are only a few or one art teachers in each building!  Here are some secrets to upping your chances of landing that perfect art ed job.

Market Yourself

Marketing yourself is about taking what you do best, and making it visible to the world. Think about what do you do that is different.   I want you to think of one of two things you do really really well within the field that are very specific. This might be advocating to parents, adapting lessons for special needs students, or a ceramics program you took from the ground up in your past school.  Highlighting these wonderful things can set you apart from the crowd and make you different then the average candidate.

Do some research on personal branding.  In a world were everyone blends together, you must brand yourself as the expert in SOMETHING in order to stand out. I remember when we hired a new teacher at our school and everyone was buzzing about this new teacher- supposedly she was a whiz at differentiation and everyone was anxious to see her in action. How did she get this title? She marketed herself as an expert in this area. It happened to be appealing to the selection committee and she got the job!

Write a GREAT Cover Letter

Before you get the interview, the only way the selection committee will know about you is through your cover letter and resume.  The cover letter, in my eyes, is equally as important as your resume.  The way the cover letter is written is absolutely huge.  This is the chance to get away from the generalized stuff about passion for kids, blah blah blah and talk about something exciting and unique.  (See above)  This is the chance to talk about your one thing that you do really well.  Don’t go into too much detail,  you can do that once you land the interview, however if the letter is too generalized it will go to the bottom of the pile for sure.  This is the only chance you get for potential employers to hear your voice. Be bold and be the authority on something.  They will take note.

Construct a More Creative Resume

The look of your resume is huge. What will set it apart?  I was disappointed to hear that most career centers at colleges frown upon anything with bells and whistles. They want you to use white paper, black font, Times New Roman, etc. Now, I think some resumes can look tacky with too much frill, however, what if you did something tasteful, professional but different enough to help you stand out from the crowd?   Fonts, color schemes, content organization, white space, headings, and consistency is absolutely huge to stand out with a resume.   I like to use the same color schemes, fonts and logos on both my cover letter and resume for consistency.  This is another step in branding yourself.  I helped my neighbor with her resume and cover letter she got 2 interviews that week and it wasn’t even in education.  I was also told by an HR rep they planned on re-doing their own resume to match mine.  I used the program on a Mac called Pages to make my resume.

There are so many new creative resume platforms out there with graphics, visuals, and even CSS codes to capture a video of yourself for the committee to link to.  Why not try it?  Don’t you think HR people are bored out of their minds?  Give them something to remember. It might just land you the job. Would you want to look at black and white Times New Roman all day? I didn’t think so!

Inspiration Feed recently released an article called “30 Amazingly Creative Examples of Designer Resumes.”  Some of these are a little over the top, but I do encourage you to think of taking aspects from one of these and incorporating them into your otherwise boring resume.

Here are some of my favorites and what I would grab from them to may my resume better if I was you!

The pie chart on the right is a nice visual way to break down a skills set you have.

Although this resume is very causal and I wouldn’t recommend talking about beer like he does (ha) I really like the timeline on the right side as a way to chronicle things you have done, such as presentations at conferences, exhibited in an art show or won an award.

I love the organic nature of this resume.  The “roads” will lead the potential employer to the different paths you have created for yourself, while still maintaining a professional look.

The head is a little creepy here, however, the labeling nature of the content really helps to organize this individual’s skills in a way that is much easier to read then a long run on paragraph, don’t you agree?

In education, we typically write a Curriculum Vitae, which is a bit longer than a resume and showcases many different types of publications, research and conferences the educator may have participated in.  This is what I have- A Vitae- I like the way this individual above used icons to draw our eye like bullet points to his information.  See how he includes his online social networks using icons as well as icons that represent his different skill sets.  I think employers would love to see a visual person like an art teacher come to the table with a 21st century, modern and visual resume.


Unfortunately sometimes getting a job is hard, and it’s politics. I have noticed that if someone subs quite a bit in our school and the principal gets to know them (or student taught) they seem to have a better chance of landing a job at that school. Have you thought of volunteering in a district you are looking to get into? Name recognition is huge.  Maybe know someone who can put in a good word for you?Do you have social networks via Linked In, Twitter, a website or blog?  (Don’t forget to link these on your resume!).  After making great connections, ask some influential people you have met to do a short testimonial for you, and include it in your cover letter or resume. Sometimes name dropping is all it takes, and it’s much more personalized to include a testimonial than to simply add a boring list of references.

Get Visual

We are art teachers, right?  We are visual people, and potential employers will expect us to be able to SHOW some great examples of what our students have done. If you don’t have a visual place online such as a blog, Artsonia, or a class webpage you can showcase student art, you are missing the boat. Be sure to link to this place in your resume or cover letter.  Administrators don’t know a lot about teaching art, but they know what they like when they see it.  Show them your best work and make it easy for them to find.  They will begin to get a clear picture of what you will offer their program and what the halls in THEIR school might look like with you as the art teacher.

The philosophy I have come up with for getting a job in art education is simple:

  • Be different, but be professional.
  • Showcase your strengths in a visual way.
  • Stand out from the crowd.

What do you have to lose? 


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • In addition to these great suggestions! As an art teacher and the art department chair I have been on many interview committies. Please dress professionally for your interview. Nice and simple and professional. It makes it easier to hear what your saying when we are not distracted. And please bring samples and photos of your students work. Definitely show links to your blogs and other professional web sights were can see what you will bring to our program. Also find out about what we already do and have some ideas about how you can enhance our current program.

  • Anonymous

    All of these suggestions are very helpful. I was led to believe by the University Career Counselor that my resume had to be the traditional “12point Times New Roman” and have a very sterile look. I have since revamped my resume/cover letter, using my talents and background in graphic design, to create these items that more represent me artistically yet keeping a very professional appearance. I liked Maggie’s response also as it relates to actual interviewing.

    • The comment above is mine also (I forgot to log in!). Also, as I go into any future interviews I will also put my bookbinding skills to use and create a small scrapbook of student artwork. I will print off photos of some of my students’ work to place in the scrapbook. The scrapbook will also be nice to have as a keepsake. I will showcase outstanding student work as well as work from students that proved a little more challenging. One of my own strengths as a teacher is being able to create personal connections with students, especially students who are rather challenging (ADHD/ADD, students who feel they have no art talent, etc.) Featuring artwork from some of these students, artwork that met the objectives of my lesson, will be great additions to this scrapbook as well.

  • Not only was this a great article, I loved the comments too! It always gives me more and more ideas that I can use in hopes to one day be a full time art teacher (as I am only a .1 right now)

  • sarah smith

    i am very curious about your color scheme . . . how do you incorporate colors into your resume? i don’t have a background in graphic design, so for me the “sterile” 12 pt times new roman resume is the easiest thing to wrap my head around. it’s not that i don’t find those resumes visually appealing, i just don’t have a lot of experience manipulating images on the computer . . .

    • Sarah,
      I use a program called Pages on my mac and can change the font colors and add some bells and whistles. I have easily learned to use Pages over time, but you are right, we see ideas we like but can’t always replicate them graphically. I’ve had to learn from the ground up in order to do AOE stuff and blog.

      • sarah smith

        ah, thank you! the district i am currently in just switched us all to macs and i have yet to fully explore my new macbook’s potential. i’ll have to see if we have that program. thanks for everything you do :o)

  • Genasmith4

    I have been wanting to create a resume but because I have no college education and am a self-taught artist and art educator, I am not sure how to word my ‘education’ portion.  Maybe I should just leave it off.  I am an art educator to the homeschool community and have a passion for art history.  I do have a blog which, I see, will be good to add to the resume (www.arttogo-gsmith.blogspot.com). Thanks for this and all of your other wonderful posts.  I have read nearly all of them and find them very encouraging.

    • Gena,

      Your blog looks great, and you will be so happy you’ve documented all of your work in one place.
      You could always add educational experiences you’ve done on your own. Any conferences, workshops, research, etc. If anyone wants more information they will ask, otherwise just leave it off, and focus on the positive- All of the amazing things you are doing.
      Best of luck!

  • Hannah

    Jessica, would you mind looking over my resume? I’d love some constructive criticism. I’ve seen those above examples before, and I like them… but I’m still a little hesitant on going TOO graphic. I was just on the interview committee for my long term sub, and I was, of course, curious as to what my administrators thought of all the resumes that came in, so I got some insight from that.. but I still would like an opinion on my current resume. I did add a pop of color, but I don’t know how I feel about any other “bells and whistles”… maybe too distracting? Anywho.. if you don’t mind (and trust me, I won’t be offended if you’re too busy- you got a lot goin’ on, girl!), I’d love to hear what you think about my resume.

    (PS.. my resume also already “matches” my cover letter and portfolio.)

    • Sure, Hannah! I’d be happy to. Send it to me at: theartofed@gmail.com

      I agree, even my resume isn’t as wild as some of the examples. It depends on a lot of factors and the type of job you are applying for.
      :) Looking forward to it.

  • Sarah

    Hi Jessica, would you mind reading my cover letter and resume? I could really use some help. I am applying to two counties, both that I would love to have a job offer in.

  • Megan

    Hi Jessica, would you mind looking over my cover letter? I am trying to make it pop and stand out. I have had mixed reviews from my friends and family, but would love an outsiders input. Thank you so much

  • Colleen

    I am an art teacher in Massachusetts and have found a strong trend for most of the public schools to use the website School Spring. The website is great because I get daily emails letting me know what openings they are but the website is set up so you insert all your experience and information into their format. There doesn’t seem to be any way to get creative with the template, you can’t even change the font! I’ve tried following up my online applications with a letter that includes visuals and talks more about my teaching philosophy but got several emails back saying that they received it but do not except anything mailed to them. Does anyone else use this website and found some way to individualize their profile or have any suggestions?

    • Marcia

      in my humble opinion, websites like School Spring and Applitrac don’t do art teachers justice. I have submitted dozens of resume’s on line, with no feed back or call back. Yet when I mail in my beautiful hard copy I always get an interview. Don’t know what the finished product looks like on any of these sites, but it cannot beat the original. Maybe links to a school webpage featuring student work in the cover letter would help? If you come up with anything let me know. These on-line services are frustrating!

  • Anita Jain

    I have 15 yrs experience in graphic designing and teaching students for proffesional course in fashion, digital textile printing which is in.. trd. Also have started painting with abstract art as my forte with acrylics, watercolor and pastels and charcoal.
    I want yo apply for a Viual Art Teacher for high school. I am confused as how to present my resume.

    • Hi Anita,

      You’ll want to focus on any work you did with students. It’s great to include your other credentials briefly, but school districts are primarily concerned with how you’ve worked with kids in the past.