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Overview of an Associate in Art Education

When you enroll in an art education or visual arts program, you should make sure to look for an education-focused option specifically rather than an art-focused program. An associate degree in art may help you with the foundation, but you'll need to complete a bachelor's in education studies, with the focused courses that go along with it, despite earning this associate degree. Earning an online associate degree designed to teach you about specific education subjects will allow you to complete most of your general education courses and lower-level academics before you ever enter a bachelor's degree program. This may help you skip these courses once you reach higher-level degree programs and give you the chance to more easily complete an art program as well as your art education bachelor's degree program.

In addition to all of your art courses such as studio art, art history, fine arts, graphic art technology, or performing arts, you’ll take liberal arts courses. Liberal arts classes include humanities, English, social sciences, communication and mass media, arts, math, and science. Even though these classes don’t focus on art, they will give you the grounding you need to be a good teacher. Generally, a good arts program should include individual studios for the different studio art forms such as painting, sculpture, drawing, jewelry, photography, printmaking, or ceramics. Each of these areas will have its own class with focused content.


    An online associate degree in any discipline will be a good foundation for whatever career you want. In an online associate degree in art education, you’ll get the general knowledge you need to teach young children about studio art, performing arts, visual arts, and more. If you decide you want to advance your education, then you can go back to a college campus and earn your bachelor’s degree in art education. By doing so, you’ll be able to do more with your education degree than you can with only an online associate degree in a art program.

    With a two-year associate degree, you’ll accumulate educational experience so that future employers will be interested in hiring you. With that online associate degree in art education from a local college, you’ll be able to earn a higher annual salary than you’d be able to earn with just a high school diploma.


    After graduating, you should be able to find a job earning decent pay. However, your colleagues who have bachelor’s degrees or higher might be doing work you would prefer. You’ll find that you could do the same work if you earned the necessary degree.

    While an online associate degree is a strong achievement, there are higher-level educational goals that will help you succeed. An online associate degree in art education, visual art, or performing arts is an entry-level degree. Varying school district policies may mean you can’t do some tasks that more senior teachers can carry out. Many schools are requiring bachelor's degrees for teachers at all levels.

    If you've considered earning your bachelor’s degree (or even your master’s), but you decided it was faster to earn a two-year degree, then you'll want to give some thought to returning to school after you earn your associate degree in art education. You’ll expand your learning, knowledge, and skills in the classroom in every new course you complete and you’ll be eligible for higher-level responsibilities and careers.

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Certificate vs. Associates

Unless you set each program side-by-side and look at them closely, you may have problems seeing what their differences are. A certificate in education takes only one year to earn; an associate in education takes closer to two years.

Another major difference, when you look at each program, will be the scope of work you’ll be allowed to do. The extra year required for an Associate in Art Education simply means that you have more learning behind you, and you’ll be able to assist your assigned teacher with more tasks.

What Art Education Associate Degrees are Available?

Different community colleges offer different art education degrees. Some offer transfer options as well.

  • Associate in Arts
    Education Transfer Path: A few programs have transfer agreements with certain partner colleges. These agreements will aid you in some teacher preparation programs, from early childhood up to middle level education, physical education and special education.
  • Associate in Arts with an Emphasis in Art
    This degree is a visual arts preparation program and it also allows you to transfer successfully to a four-year university. The classes include design, art appreciation, and studio work.
  • Associate of Arts in Teaching
    This is a transfer program that prepares you to transfer over to a baccalaureate program so you can earn your teaching certificate. You’ll be exposed to elementary and high school education, all levels of arts and special education certification, and a specialized certification if you plan to teach in early childhood up to 6th grade.
  • Associate in Arts Teaching (AAT)
    This is a pre-professional degree, allowing you to transfer over to a four-year university that offers a bachelor’s degree in education.

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Admission Requirements for Art Education Associates

  • Submit a diploma from an accredited high school or a diploma from a GED program.
  • Take your SAT test, or one that is equivalent, such as the ACT.
  • Meet the criteria to participate in early admissions programs.
  • Even if you haven’t completed high school or earned your diploma, you can still be accepted as long as you are in an acceptable, accredited program.
  • If you are in an Early College high school program, you may be eligible to enroll in college classes as a high school student. Upon graduation, you could have a high school diploma and an associate degree.

How long does it take to earn a Art Education Associates Degree?

That depends. Every student has their own circumstances that will dictate how long they will take to finish an associate degree program. As long as you take at least 15 credits per semester, you can finish your degree program in around two years.

You may not be able to do this because of family needs or job demands. This is fine—every student should only take as many credits as they can reasonably carry and still pass their classes. Thus, if you are working 25 or 30 hours a week and you can only take 12 credits per semester, then do so.

Potential Careers in Art Education with an Associates

  • Camp Counselor
    You’ll work with children either in a summer-long role or after school. Your responsibilities include working with other camp staff to ensure a fun, safe, and healthy environment for the children. You’ll assist with group supervision of each camper. You may assist campers with cleaning and other routine jobs. You’ll also lead small group activities, such as fitness, social engagement, or art.
    Average annual salary: $20,000
  • Teacher Aide or Assistant
    In this role, you’ll supervise your students during recess, lunch, and instruction, ensuring order and a good learning environment. You assist the teacher with record-keeping (grades and attendance). You’ll help in developing, preparing, and handing out materials and lessons. You’ll take care of difficult behavioral issues or safety issues directly.
    Average annual salary: $19,100

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  • Daycare Provider
    You’ll prepare daily activities and schedules, arranging entertaining and educational activities. You’ll communicate clearly with parents about problems, schedules, and offerings and also prepare and clean up after lunches and snacks. You’ll maintain safety and cleanliness within the daycare center, supervise child interactions and play, and make sure the children have a safe environment.
    Average annual salary: $28,900
  • Infant/Toddler Caregiver
    In the classroom, you’ll set up educational and entertaining activities for the babies and toddlers. You’ll ensure safety and cleanliness of the daycare center and infant/toddler room and communicate clearly with parents about problems, offerings, and schedules. You’ll also prepare snacks, lunch, and supervise child play and interactions to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
    Average annual salary: $20,000

Salary by Occupation

Occupations Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Art Teacher, K-12 $31,000 $44,609 $65,000
Art Education Teacher $31,000 $45,000 $62,000
Art Education Teacher, BFA $29,000 $47,000 $54,000
Art Education Teacher, BFAEd $25,000 $46,000 $66,000
Art Teacher, Secondary Education $32,000 $55,000 $66,000
Art Education Teacher, MA $35,000 $43,000 $64,000

Options to Advance

The time may come when you want to advance your teaching skills. To accomplish this, you’ll have to return to school for your bachelor’s degree. Because you’ve already completed two years of your degree, you’ll only have to complete a minimum of two additional years. If you have plans to advance your career in education, then you will need a bachelor’s degree.

As an art teacher, you’ll teach both theoretical and practical knowledge of art theory, art history, design, and other topics related to art. From kindergarten through eighth grade, the curriculum covers many broad subjects; in high school and college, this is more concentrated. Expect to work with students anywhere from K-12th grade.

If you want to be the best teacher possible in art education, then a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Education is a natural next step. You’ll learn about planning and teaching a comprehensive art program to your students.

Best Associate of Science in Art Education Programs

  • Everett Community College
    Everett, Washington

    Everett Community College was founded in 1941. The first classes were taught in a converted elementary school; In 1958, the main campus moved into its present location. Students at EVCC can choose from several educational options as they begin earning certificates, starting their four-year degrees, or training for new jobs.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate in Arts and Sciences - Transfer DTA
  • State Fair Community College
    Sedalia, Missouri

    State Fair Community College has eight campuses, plus an online option. This means students can stay close to home to attend their classes. SFCC’s academic programs include skills and professional certificates, Associate of Fine Arts and Associate of Arts in Teaching degrees.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Fine Arts
    • Associate of Arts in Teaching
  • Howard Community College
    Columbia, Maryland

    Students living in Baltimore can easily get to HCC. If they live in D.C., they can also easily reach campus. The student to faculty ratio is low, with 20 students to one instructor. The college offers several degrees that either lead to employment or transfer to a four-year degree program.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education/Early Childhood Special Education - Associate of Arts in Teaching
  • Houston Community College
    Houston, Texas

    Houston Community College was created under the governance of the Houston Independent School District, resulting from a public referendum. In 1989, HCC separated from HISD and became a public entity, establishing its own Board of Trustees. Finally, in 1992, HDD was restructured into a multi-college system.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate in Arts, Teacher Education
  • Northampton Community College
    Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

    After its establishment in 1967, Northampton Community College has provided an education to Lehigh Valley residents who want to access workforce training, earn a degree, or learn new leisure activities. More than 35,000 students are currently served in both credit and non-credit programs.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education

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Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Art Education

  • National Park College
    Springs National Park, Arkansas

    National Park College prides itself on offering a university experience that costs less than half of the average university’s tuition. NPC offers two-year degrees and certificates, online and on-campus, as its students need. NPC was one of the top ten online colleges in the state of Arkansas for 2017.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts in Art Education (transfers to a four-year university)
  • Shoreline Community College
    Shoreline, Washington

    Ten-thousand students attend Shoreline Community College annually; about 6,000 of these students are enrolled in degree programs in any given quarter-term. SCC attracts students from more than 50 countries, enabling them to take classes online so they can earn a degree. International students make up about 14% of the student body.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts Elementary Education Pre-Major
  • Surry Community College
    Dobson, North Carolina

    Surry Community College was just a dream until it was actually built. In 1960, the Mount Airy Lions Club began study on creating the new college. The first classes opened for instruction in 1965, taking place in rented and borrowed spaces.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate in Arts-Education
  • Pellissippi State Community College
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Pellissippi State Community College got its start in 1974, being named the State Technical Institute at Knoxville. Today, it offers career-path associate degrees, associate degrees for transfer, certificates, and continuing education for the general community. It has five campuses to meet the needs of every student.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science for Transfer in Elementary Education
  • Eastfield College
    Dallas, Texas

    Established in 1970, Eastfield College has always strived to meet the educational needs of students in the community. Students can benefit from a wide range of academic programs, occupational and technical classes, and continuing education programs that help students to prepare for growth opportunities and new careers.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts in Teaching

Frequently Asked Questions

Will an associate education degree let me teach at any level?

While an associate degree generally won’t give you access to teaching positions in public schools, a degree of this kind might allow you to work in another type of school or field. For example, you could teach art to homeschool students or teach art classes over the summer for students whose parents want to support their artistic interests. Or you might find a role in a private institution if you have a lot of talent and they are looking to improve their art program. However, it may be difficult to find consistent roles that you can use to support yourself or that will let you move up into higher level roles. Because of this, if you plan to earn an associate degree in art education, then you might want to move on and earn a bachelor’s degree, as well.

What are the reasons to get an associate degree?

One reason to earn an associate degree instead of jumping right into a bachelor’s is if you aren’t 100% sure that the field you are entering is for you. If you want to get a feel for education before signing up to complete a bachelor’s degree, then an associate degree may be your best option. Another reason is the money you can save. As you might know, completing the first two years of a bachelor’s degree as an associate in a community college that will transfer the credits you earn to a bachelor’s degree can cost significantly less than signing up for all four years from a four-year institution. And then there is the fact that some students simply don’t do as well on tests as others. You may have poor standardized test grades or not have done as well in high school as other students. If this is the case, and it keeps you from getting into the bachelor’s degree program you want, then you may be able to pull your scores up by completing an associate degree program. You’ll have to be very deliberate in passing your courses but transferring rather than entering a program straight out of college can allow you to ignore standardized testing requirements, instead only needing you to send in your grades from the associate degree program you attended. This can be helpful for many students.

After earning my education degree, will I be able to teach online students?

The world is quickly transitioning to technology-based learning, and increasingly more students are enrolling in online classes. This has created a whole new landscape for both educators and students alike as they navigate this ever-evolving educational environment. With the increasing demand for virtual learning, many people are wondering if they can use their traditional education degrees to teach in the digital sphere.

The answer is yes! Although there may be some additional certifications or qualifications needed to teach online classes, most education degrees will provide sufficient knowledge and experience to become an effective teacher in an online setting. Educators with a valid teaching license can apply these credentials when searching for jobs that require training online students. However, depending on the platform used, additional courses of instruction may be necessary before starting any type of online teaching position.

What online programs or courses are required when earning my education degree?

Earning an education degree can be a rewarding experience, and with the right online programs or courses it can also be achievable. Online courses have become increasingly popular among today's students, who are looking for more flexible learning options that fit their lifestyle. With the vast number of online programs and courses available, it can be difficult to know which ones are necessary when earning an education degree. Depending on the institution you choose, there will typically be different requirements when it comes to completing your degree. Common online program requirements include classes in pedagogy and curriculum development, educational psychology and research methods as well as other elective courses that may relate directly or indirectly to the field of education.

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