Need advice: Thinking about changing my major/career… (art education)

posted 2 months ago in Career
Post # 2
Member
626 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2020

Is it possible for you to take the classes you’d like as an artist while still fulfilling obligations for your art teaching degree?

Personally, I think you should stick with your current path for one reason: it means a lot more to a potential employer. One thing you’ll learn quickly out of college is that your degree doesn’t mean squat as far as locking you into what you must do. You can still be a studio artist with an art education degree. However, you may not get a job as easily while you work on your craft with just a studio art degree.

I definitely think you should pursue your dream of being an artist and never lose sight of it! However (and I’m speaking as a writer and hopeful author), one thing about the arts is that often you need a day job to support you until that dream can be built. Having an art education degree may offer you that much more stability after college, giving you more time for your craft. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you won’t be able to commit as much attention to your art.

Essentially, you need an art education degree to be an art teacher (which you may do for awhile to support yourself while doing your own work on the side). But you don’t need a degree at all to do your own thing. That’s why I think you should stay on the path you are, but feel free to take additional classes you’re passionate in.

(For the record: I majored in biology, then got a master’s in science journalism, allowing me to write in a higher paying field while I work as a creative writer on the side. My current job actually is actually paying for my second master’s in creative writing, so it worked out for me to have a degree that meant more to employers. I took a lot of writing classes on my own in college for myself. Best of both worlds!)

Post # 4
Member
745 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

So I’m music teacher, and have a degree in music education. Some people I graduated with finished their music ed degree with the intent to become a performer. Their thinking was that the degree was something to fall back onto if performing didn’t work out. You can become an artist with the art ed degree. So I suggest you finish your degree in art ed.

Post # 5
Member
2296 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

I’d stick with art education 

Post # 6
Member
1652 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

id stick with art education as well, i majored in Fine Art in college, hated it and decided to give it up all together when the job market plummeted. To be honest, a degree now a days is better then nothing, but a degree in fine art in my opinion isnt going to get you some stellar well paying dream job anymore, art studies is just a dying field in general in this economy anymore. At least with an education focused major you will always be able to find some form of teaching job. 

Post # 8
Member
745 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

kaycookie :  Believe me, I really do understand the constraints that student teaching puts on someone! I was in an elementary placement for student teaching and would get back to campus around 4pm. My friends who had high school placements got back to campus earlier. I’m not sure what time your current hours for your job is. You do have a year until you’d need to cut back on hours. Is it possible to take up more hours now (or during winter or summer break) so it wouldn’t be so difficult later?

Post # 9
Member
1988 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

Visual art is a really tough field. I work with several visual artists–they sell their work on the side. They also work full-time with me. They are very talented. One of them has a degree with art. However, there’s just not much money made in selling their products. I have another friend who got a master’s in fine arts and she teaches on the college level. So, I guess that’s another possibility.

Regarding art education–if you aren’t really into being a teacher, that could be touch. It will probably be a struggle to find an art education job due to the cuts in arts education. Plus, a lot of teaching is about classroom management. I used to be a teacher and it is not an easy job!! The pay isn’t great, either.

That’s a really tough decision and I feel your pain!! If you aren’t super into being an educator, then maybe you should just get the fine arts degree and have something else on the backburner if necessary. You will probably have to do other things to help supplement your education for awhile, so be prepared for that. It’s a good idea to keep talking to instructors at your college about this. Discuss all your possibility and take in their suggestions. 

Post # 11
Member
521 posts
Busy bee

I’d stick with the education major. That way you have another skill to fall back on if being an artist alone isn’t paying the bills. And you wouldn’t have to work for a school if you live in an area where you could find a job teaching art classes to adults. 

Post # 12
Member
1149 posts
Bumble bee

Alteranatively, you could scrap the art education major, finish with studio art, and then do your MFA. You would then be able to teach at a community college as a back up but wouldn’t have to go through the unpaid student teaching. 

Post # 13
Member
255 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

So to answer your question “would a BFA in studio arts sound less appealing to employers than a BFA in art education?” — the answer is a resounding yes.  Honestly, if you ever needed to look for a job that’s unrelated to art, an art degree would be essentially worthless.

I’m a graphic artist, which is what my degree is in, but I went to school with a lot of people who majored in both art education and studio art.  I don’t know a single person who majored in studio art who is actually working as an artist.  They’re all working unrelated jobs (think bartender, server, office admin, etc.) and trying to do art on the side.  I do know a decent amount of art teachers though, and they all love their jobs.

I definitely think your mind is going to the worst-case scenario in regards to how much free time you’ll have as a teacher.  I also think that if you want to be a good teacher and also make time to build yourself as an artist, then you’ll find a way.  Which is true for anything.  If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way.  

That being said, the art world is an unforgiving, unsteady place.  Your pieces could be phenomenal, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find people who want to buy them.  And your income as just an artist will likely be very unstable.  I agree with everyone saying that you can be any type of artist you want with an art education degree, but you can’t be an art teacher with just a studio art degree.  

Post # 14
Member
255 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

I just read your last comment, and I want to add — you’re overestimating most hiring managers.  I don’t think most people would look at those two majors and know the ACTUAL difference, but I do think there will be people who see “education major” and think “oh, she must be smart” and leave it at that.  Even if you have done 99% of what’s required for the art education major, an employer isn’t going to know that unless you like both the majors’ required courses on your resume along with the ones you’ve completed (I don’t recommend this).  I also think that, as far as teaching goes, the majority of what you learn probably occurs during the student teaching, so don’t write it off so fast.

Post # 15
Member
59 posts
Worker bee

My partner and most of his friends have BFAs or MFAs which they have gotten relatively recently. So I’m very familiar with the process and what happens afterwards. I’d say about 50% of them work in an art related capacity, and 50% work in a creative field/tech. 90% of them are still making art, including my partner. None of them are starving, but of course most of them aren’t wealthy either, there are a couple who are doing very well though. 

My first question to you is how well known is your school for art? That matters BIG in the art community, connections are very important. The fact that your major would be “studio art” and not painting or sculpture etc is concerning for me. Sure contemporary artists are jacks of all trades; but most of the good art schools have some seperation. The fact that you would only have a couple more studio classes to make up the difference between the degrees is also concerning for me. 

Have you been in any shows/shown your work? Do you have a sizable portfolio? Have you worked for any of your professors on their work- heck, are the professors at your school still showing and selling their work at all?

If the answer to these is no, you should probably stick with the art education degree. If you are really, really serious about being an artist you can move to a city with a well regarded art scene and go hard- very, very hard. Go to all the openings, make connections, have a studio and keep making work. Potentially apply for an artist residency one summer during the time you have off from work. That coud open some doors too. Once you have a good portfolio you can apply to an MFA program. Just make sure to go to one thats going to give you more oppertunities- not just higher debt.

Let me know if you have questions. If I don’t know the answer I can ask my partner. 

 

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