The Unexpected “Perks” of Being an Art Teacher

It’s really easy to focus on the negatives of teaching art. Large class sizes, other teachers always asking to borrow our limited supplies, lack of administrative support and a lack of respect for what we do are all valid complaints. Continuously focusing on the negatives can make us  forget about all the fun perks and the POSITIVES of having the best job in the world. Let’s face it, there are lots of fun perks to this 9 to 5 (I mean, 24/7 job) that cubicle dwellers just don’t have. So allow me to remind you of… The joys and PERKS of being an art teacher!



1. Since everyone EXPECTS you to be disorganized, when you have your stuff together, you exceed expectations. Score!

2. No one bats an eye if you’re wearing a costume or have paint in your hair.

3. You can bribe students with lessons you would do anyway. “If you’re good, we can paint today!” Try that in math class. “If you’re good, we can do long division today!” I’m guessing it doesn’t work quite the same way.

4. You can cut your own mats for FREE with your school’s mat cutter. (Just try and tell me you haven’t done it.)

5. You can wear jeans “Oh yes, it’s another clay day today.”

6. If you travel, you can always pretend to be, “at the other school.” What? Everyone needs a little extra fresh air sometimes!

7. You have a leg up with classroom management because 99% of kids love coming to your room anyway.

8. You get to spend someone else’s money on really cool supplies every year. Raise your hand if you skip right to the back of the catalog to browse the fun games, posters and books.

9. If you need a paper cutter, metallic Sharpie or embroidery floss to finish up that special project, you can just “borrow” something from your classroom.

10. Summers. (Need I say more?)

What is the best PERK of being an art teacher for you?

Let’s create the ultimate list! 

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.


  • I was a fifth and sixth grade classroom teacher for 22 years, assistant principal for six years, and now am in my ninth year as a full time art teacher. I worked long hours at all the positions I’ve held and all of them had their ups and downs, but teaching art is by far the one I have enjoyed most. Even my husband says that I am a more relaxed and happy person since I made the switch….except maybe the week prior to a big student exhibit!

  • Alecia Eggers

    Hahaha I LOVE all of these. #1 is very true :). I’ve especially been using #5 in order to wear my tall, warm winter boots…with a nicer top if course…but no one bats an eye!

  • Ren

    #4, 8… We are not funded enough for these things! And #5, well, not my professional style, even if I had clay. Love #2 though!

  • Valerie

    Some of these are great but unfortunately I, along with a couple dozen
    art teachers I know, can’t relate to a lot of them. And some of them
    are really disappointing to see – this whole list seems to miss the
    point and only concentrate on the rudimentary perks of being an art
    teacher, the same perks that often get us a misunderstood or appreciated
    rep amongst other educators and administrators.

    It is sad to me,
    that we are expected to be unorganized. I would never enjoy my
    administrator giving me extra points for being organized – it should be
    expected of any educator. And I sure wish I could wear jeans every day –
    in fact, on Fridays would suffice but not at my district, regardless of
    what you teach we are all held at the same standard. And the idea that
    a traveling teacher has time to “get fresh air” – I hate to say it, but
    I don’t know many traveling teachers that have that luxury let alone
    art teachers who don’t travel tend to have little breathe time. In
    fact, I know so many that get slapped with extra duties because the two
    principals they do have won’t communicate. Spending someone else’s
    money sure does make it sound fantastic but I, along with so many
    others, don’t have this luxurious budget you speak of and have to
    justify anything we ask for, often getting told the money just isn’t
    there. I suppose that’s why I don’t often go to my supply closet to
    help with my home crafts because the supplies I do have are being used
    for their original purpose – my students.

    So I leave you with a more universal set of art teacher perks:

    Paint in your hair or on your clothes means it’s been a successful day –
    there’s no standardized test that can compare to knowing that you’ve
    helped a kid foster their creativity today.
    2. Your lessons are
    naturally more exciting than core teaching and when you’re able to
    influence core teachers to use your strategies, you’ve managed to chance
    the world just a little bit.
    3. If you’re a traveling teacher, it
    may be tough but just think that you are reaching far more a percentage
    of students than the rest of us one-building teachers.
    4. Your
    naturally “fun” atmosphere helps you reach out to students who normally
    their teachers a hard time; for whatever reason they relate to you or
    what you teach better.
    5. Your supplies may be limited or non-existent but you always surprise the world around you by having
    students create something out of nothing.
    6. 21st century
    skills have been a part of your classroom long since they received a
    formal name and every time your administrator asks to see proof of the
    core or these skills, you feel pretty darn confident that you’ve been
    ahead of the game for years.

    7. Even your projects that flop are still successes because it’s
    not as simple as a students getting 2+3 wrong and having to relearn – we
    simply let our students learn from whatever flopped and they turn it
    into something even better; all the while know that it was never

    8. Your students respect you because you are helping them realize
    it’s okay to be themselves and that every piece of art they participate
    in is a stepping stone to something more.
    9. Your support
    system (all the other art teachers you know) is phenomenal; hands down,
    no question. When you need help, there is always someone there ready to
    jump in without worry.

    10. You have one of the hardest, least appreciated positions in
    your school (like the Music teacher) and every day you come to work you
    have to prove your work even when it seems you don’t have to – someone,
    somewhere is looking at your work to see if it’s worth the cost to the
    district. So, being the fabulous teacher that you are, you always come
    to work and prove to them that you’re worth more than they are giving
    you – even if it means using your summers to dream big about what next
    year holds.

    • Julie

      AMEN! Much better said than the ridiculous original article!

      • Lisa

        Golden Rule. We teach it to our students. Please keep positive. That being said, this wasn’t a ridiculous article – just a bit fun and lighthearted. True, many art teachers do enjoy these “perks” and many aren’t fortunate enough. Instead of focusing on what you do NOT have out of the list, and being negative Nancy, focus on the small things you do enjoy as an art teacher. Remind yourself why you love your job. Of course it’s because of all the big things Valerie said, yes those are great! But there are also small minute things in our job that make our days great. And thinking about them should make you smile. For me, it’s the fact that my ADD is greatly accepted amongst my colleagues. I can be me in my school and I’m loved for it.
        Be thankful everyday for the things you do have, not worrying about the things you don’t have.

        • Valerie

          I don’t believe my original comment was negative. It was enlightening, I hope, for Jessica. I by no means became harsh or mean towards this article but pointed out my opinion of how it could be perceived by those who cannot relate to the list. I didn’t say it “sucked”. I used my big girl pants and provided constructive criticism and feedback. I know that if my administrator saw this, they would immediately associate these “perks” with me and think that this is how I viewed my job which it’s not. This post, because it is hosted by AOE – a company that stands tall saying they are for ALL art teachers, generalizes what art teachers feel when really, it’s not what every art teacher feels. And that’s disappointing. As a professional resource, I expected more of a professional approach to this list – a list that could be viewed amongst any educational professional as respectable.

    • faigie

      Valerie I think the post was tongue in cheek. She wasnt totally serious

    • ALK

      If you happen to be in the central time zone, this post was written at 8 am, which for me would be during contract time. I couldn’t even imagine ‘rewriting’ an article on 10 perks in the art room during my planning time – I use it to get ready for the day! I’m guessing Valerie may have a perk we don’t – perhaps she has more planning time that the rest of us? :)

      • Valerie

        To assume my day begins at 8am is completely immature and naive. My work day…contract day…starts at 8:45am. So perhaps you shouldn’t make ill founded accusations. And I have 20 mins of plan time, twice a week. Nice try though, ALK.

    • Kim

      I agree :) great points.
      And I am posting this at 5:00 pm.

    • Melinda Robino

      I am a Coordinator for an Art Educators Certification Program at the Kansas City Art Institute. I am recruiting new student teachers and would like to use some of the points you’ve made in a recruitment letter or brochure. Is that ok with you?

  • Julie

    I love my job but most of these don’t apply to me and I feel that there are a lot of teachers they would not apply to. My school doesn’t have a mat cutter and if they did I would still be required to pay for the mats. I don’t really understand what “at the other school” means. I am stuck in the same classroom ALL day and don’t even have a bathroom break built in until 1:30. Just like all the other teachers in my district I am also required to follow the school dress code which states NO jeans, regardless if I am working with clay or not. I barely get money to buy paper, let alone “fun games, posters and books.” I also find it highly offensive that it is suggested that we “borrow” (cause what you really mean is steal) supplies from the art room.
    Teaching art is the most amazing thing I have ever done and I find that this list of perks is just demeaning to the profession. It’s attitudes like this that encourage the idea that what we do is worthless. I would absolutely HATE if my administrator read this because they would immediately believe this is how I feel. I have worked to hard to gain respect and am just uterly dissapointed in this article.

  • Katherine Svoboda

    There are problems with being an art teacher today, like my evaluation is tied to my mentor students’ test scores, math and reading are everything, and I am “just” the art teacher. However, as an art teacher, I have an ever adoring fan base of students that are in awe of my art abilities. That is a perk! I get to work with art materials every day. I can be a little crazy in my personality with the kids because well, it is naturally expected because I am the art teacher! I can use my creativity daily and have many opportunities to think outside the box. I can try new materials because I make all of the purchasing decisions for my art room. I teach something that I truly love and love doing. My job never is boring because I can change my plans from year to year or at least very often. I can make the most insane, boring day or concept into a teachable moment! I can work with students and help them become more confident. I am constantly learning new things myself because in art we are always pushing for the next idea. I can go to my job and be a creative in an insanely uncreative environment where teachers are forced to teach to a test. I can use art to make a statement in my school. I can share what I love with my students and I can be passionate about what I teach. I love art and I am lucky enough to be able to teach it to my students. I am one lucky person and no matter how insanely my classes are put together, like having 27 low, incorrigible 8th grade boys mixed with just a scant 6 girls, I will still find a way to make art, make it fun, and hopefully make some pleasant memories for at least some, if not all of my students!

  • Jill B.

    A fun and light-hearted post for mid-year – love it. A few perks of teaching art for me: Moving and grooving! I’ve worked a desk job and I missed being able to move around the classroom versus being “tied to my desk”. Secondly, getting our hands dirty… being able to create, explore and make mistakes, even as the teacher!

  • girlwithpaint

    Lighten up people!! I’m pretty sure this list of “perks” is to be taken lightly.

  • Sara

    We do have the best job in the world!! It is great to focus on the positive. I absolutely LOVE teaching art to small people. Thanks for posting!!

  • Hey Everyone! Lots of chatter going on here. It’s good to see so many varied opinions and ideas. This list wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, nor 100% serious, although I can probably say I have at least thought about or laughed about all of them in my career. The idea was to focus on some fun positive things about being an art teacher that were a bit quirky and not talked about very much elsewhere. So often we focus on the negative, so this was meant to be a fun positive twist to what can be a high burnout profession! :)

  • Christy Humpal

    Fun article!! I especially appreciate #2 and #7 – ADDED perk, related to #7 – the kids that are driving you batty will only be in your room for 30 more minutes….

  • erica

    Perks: I get to design my curriculum and lessons however I want because everyone is so busy running in circles for nclb or the latest common core or whatever they will conjure up next. . . . all the while we get to TEACH! TEACHING how kids need to learn is definitely the biggest perk;)

  • erica

    I definitely BRIBE my students with Paint, Clay etc. it totally works!

  • jamuna

    I TOTALLY agree !!!!!

  • Alexsa Gonzalez

    Jessica, i read your post in a “just-in-time” moment after leaving my classroom Friday thinking- i have no creative juice left… so, mission accomplished- thank you! :) as for added Perks for me: having the same calendar schedule as my daughter and being able to have her as one of my art students every 6 special area rotation days :)