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Potters - Preparation

To work as a potter, you typically need to:

  • have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
  • complete long-term, on-the-job training.

Education after high school

There are many ways to become a potter. One is to attend a community or technical college. Many schools offer programs in general art. Some schools offer programs solely in ceramics. Community and technical colleges offer certificates and associate degrees.

Universities offer four-year degrees. Some students pursue a Bachelor's of Art (BA) while others pursue a Bachelor's of Fine Arts (BFA). Programs in ceramics teach the technical skills of making clay and glazes, forming products, and firing products. You learn to make functional pieces, sculptures, and tiles. In the fourth year, you may work on developing your art one-on-one with a faculty advisor. Some schools help you secure an internship, apprenticeship, or studio assistantship in the field. These experiences help you learn new techniques, build your skills, and develop contacts.

You can also take "hobby" classes and learn from other potters. You may choose from hand building or wheel throwing classes.

Work experience

Some potters choose a potter whose work they respect and do an apprenticeship with that artist. As an apprentice you may receive materials, work space, and room and board in exchange for working as an assistant in the studio.

On-the-job training

Most potters train on the job. Some state arts councils and foundations offer resident artist programs. Types of programs vary widely. Some are for artists who are new to the field. These programs allow artists to create and explore their work further. Other programs are for people who are known in their field. Usually resident artist programs allow you to work with others in your own discipline or from a broad range of art fields. Each program is different in terms of whether potters pay to be involved or receive a stipend. Programs typically last at least one year.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.