Physical Education Teacher Career Guide

Children and teens learn about healthy living habits through physical education teachers. Physical education teachers should lead an active lifestyle and communicate health concepts to students of all ages. This guide will provide additional information about what physical education teachers do and how you can become one. It also provides details on the salary and outlook for this career.

Job Description for Physical Education Teacher

Physical education (PE) teachers teach students about proper nutrition, sports, and physical development. PE teachers are experts in sports and health sciences. Teachers in physical education teach students how to play different sports and how exercise benefits muscles and overall health. PE teachers plan activities to make exercise-based learning more fun for students.

Physical Education Teacher Requirements & Common Tasks

Instructors in physical education must be fit and active to lead classes and other activities throughout the school day. They can be found both indoors or outdoors teaching students to exercise, and also monitoring the activities of their older students. They organize activities, manage curriculum, and maintain gym equipment. PE teachers must have knowledge about sports and basic nutrition for all levels. It is an advantage to have a solid background in sport and good communication skills. Physical education teachers are usually certified and have a four year degree in teaching exercise science, or similar subjects. Others may hold a master's in physical education. Many PE teachers are also involved in coaching school sports teams. They may also serve as faculty advisors for student clubs.

How to become a teacher of physical education

A bachelor's in physical education is the first step to becoming a teacher. A Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Science in Education, (BSEd), in Health Sciences, Kinesiology or Physical Education are some examples of degrees that could prepare a person to pursue this career. These programs often include Theories and Physical Education, Theories and Sports Pedagogy and Team and Individual Sports. Basic Methods of Teaching and Human Development are also common. No matter what major they choose, potential teachers should complete a teacher-preparation program approved by their state board of education to be eligible for teacher certification. This is the most common path to teaching physical education:

  1. Earn a bachelor's in physical education, or another closely related field like health education and kinesiology.
  2. Do a student teaching internship in physical education.
  3. For the endorsement in physical education, you must pass all required state tests.
  4. Apply for your teaching licence.
  5. Start applying for open PE teacher positions.

State teacher certification is required for public school physical education teachers. A four-year bachelor's degree in physical education is required to be eligible for state certification. There are other certification paths offered by many states that could include a master's degree in physical education. A physical education teacher can choose from several certification options. These are determined by the grade level they are teaching (early childhood, elementary or secondary), and are available in several levels. You may also be able to become certified as a physical education teacher for special needs students using modified physical education methods.

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Salary and job outlook for Physical Education Teachers

The salary of a PE teacher is generally comparable to other teachers' salaries. It depends on the school's level (elementary, middle or high school), where it is located, as well as the teacher's education. The outlook for teachers' job growth is positive with a projected 3-4% increase in employment through 2028. 1,2 Teachers who are skilled in both physical education and have a good understanding of nutrition and health will be in high demand.

Expertise and experience are a plus

A strong foundation for physical fitness and experience in team sports are essential. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are also important. New physical education teachers can find work if they have a good understanding of nutrition, team dynamics, and kinesiology. A physical education teacher's goal is to encourage physical fitness and teach students healthy eating habits and good health. PE teachers who are good role models for students should be able to demonstrate the qualities of good health. Teachers of physical education inspire their students to be active and healthy.


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