Professional Learning

5 Overlooked Certification Programs for Art Teachers

Overlooked Programs
There is a stark reality that many art teachers, unfortunately, face– that of the teacher whose program is marginalized. It’s always a little cut here, a little cut there.

It seems that as specialized teachers we spend too much of our time justifying our own existence. It’s often the arts programs that are first on the chopping block when times get tough. Add in the drill and kill mentality that is so prevalent in our schools today and you get the sense many of us are fighting tooth and nail for what little ground we have left to stand on.

It seems that as specialized teachers we spend too much of our time justifying our own existence.

Wow.  That was pretty bleak. I’m not here to wallow in the muck or partake in the pity party. Instead, I want to offer up some proactive and unusual certification programs art teachers can participate in to add some legitimacy and clout to what they’re already doing in the classroom.

Being unusual and slightly more tech-centric, some of these may have flown under our collective radar, as they aren’t specifically related to art ed. However, I think these programs are definitely worth looking into and could add that extra stamp of approval to your program.

Here are 5 overlooked certification
programs for art teachers.


1. National Board Certification

National Board Certification
I want to start by looking at the biggest and most widely-recognized certification program for teachers of all disciplines from around the country, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ National Board Certification program (whew, that’s a mouthful).

The National Board program follows five basic principles that all National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) must demonstrate. Check them out here. Art teachers can become NBCTs in early and middle childhood art (ages 3-12) or early adolescence through young adult (ages 11-18). While this prestigious program is demanding and time intensive, most states offer substantial pay increases to NBCTs. Be sure to check your specific state for details. Former AOE Writer and Instructor Cassidy Reinken went through the process herself and shared her tips here.

More information available at:

2. Apple Distinguished Educators

Apple Educator
Apple Distinguished Educators, or ADEs, is a global community of innovative educators who push the boundaries of what’s possible in education through their use of Apple Technology. From iPads and MacBooks to iBooks and iTunes U, ADEs look for ways to transform what’s possible in teaching.

More information available at:

3. Microsoft Innovative Expert

Microsoft offers up a similar program to Apple’s ADEs for innovation and creative tech adoption with all things Microsoft. I’ve long been an Apple loyalist, but I truly believe that Microsoft has upped their educational platform. I’ve been impressed by the Surface Pro 3 and am excited by the prospect of HoloLens in the classroom someday as a revolutionary tool in a design studio.

More information available at:

4. Google Certified Teachers

Google Certified Teachers
Google is a huge player in the ed tech field. It’s silly to think that just 5 years ago I remember creating and sharing my first Google Doc. I thought it was so difficult and counterintuitive. Now, I can’t imagine teaching without the full gamut of Google Apps for Education (GAFEs).

The list is impressive and extensive. We’re not just talking Mail and Google Drive anymore. Google also provides Google Classroom, Sites, the inexpensive yet powerful Chromebook platform, and all the apps Google Play unlocks.

Google offers two levels of their Google Certified Teachers (GCT) program. For those rockstar Google users, there are two additional programs beyond the GCTs, Google Certified Trainer and Google Certified Innovator

More information available at:

5. PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program

An intriguing certification program is offered up by the Public Broadcasting System, PBS’s LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program. This program isn’t specific to certain platforms, hardware, or software. LeaningMedia recognizes teachers using digital technology in innovative and creative ways to drive student interest and learning. As media literacy becomes more important with schools shifting to teaching 21st Century Skills and the new NCAS’s, this is a program worth checking out.

More information available at:

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Have you sought out any additional certification to add to your art education portfolio? If so, which ones?

Are there any we left off the list? Let us know about them in the comments below!


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Andrew McCormick

Andrew McCormick, a STEAM, PBL, and tech integration specialist, is a former AOEU Writer and middle school art educator.

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