Physical Education Teacher Career, Employment and Education Info

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in physical education. Read on to learn more about career options along with job duties, licensure, and education information.

Career Information At a Glance

Physical education teachers work with students to help develop motor skills, promote healthy lifestyles, and foster a love for physical activity. The table below provides information for potential physical education teachers in primary, middle and secondary school settings.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher Middle School Teacher High School Teacher
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Elementary education Elementary education, physical education, kinesiology Physical education, exercise science, kinesiology
Licensure State licensure required for public school teachers State licensure required for public school teachers State licensure required for public school teachers
Key Responsibilities Help students with motor skills and help students learn team activities Encourage fitness, good nutrition, teamwork, and better health practices Teach students exercise benefits, proper nutrition, and overall wellness
Job Growth (2012-2022) 12%* 12%* 6%*
Median Salary (2014) $50,600 (for all kindergarten teachers, except special education)*; $54,120 (for all elementary teachers, except special education)* $56,310 (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)* $56,310 (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Have as a Physical Education (P.E.) Teacher?

As a physical education (P.E.) teacher, you can work in either a primary or secondary school setting. When working with children at the elementary school level, your main focus is helping students develop their motor skills and teaching them to work together through team activities. At the middle school and high school levels, your focus shifts to educating students about the benefits of exercise and its effects on the body, proper nutrition and overall wellness. Additionally, you teach the older children the basics of several individual and team sports. Many schools may also offer the opportunity for you to become involved in extracurricular activities as a coach for a school sport.

What is the Employment Outlook?

Although job prospects are best for teachers in the subjects of mathematics, science and bilingual education, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment growth for teachers of kindergarten through middle school to be about as fast as average, with a potential growth of 12% from 2012 to 2022; through the same period, high school teachers could expect a 6% growth. However, you may find additional opportunities in rural and urban areas as current teachers move on to more desirable locations or different careers. As a P.E. teacher, your compensation will vary by city and school district, but May 2015 reports on, showed the middle half of physical education teachers earned between $34,000 to $50,000 a year.

What Education Do I Need?

In order to teach at a public elementary school, middle school or high school, you will need to earn your bachelor's or master's degree in physical education, kinesiology, exercise science or a related field. You may want to consider a program accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Additionally, you must become licensed through your State Board of Education, and you may also choose to earn advanced certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The NBPTS offers certification in physical education for early and middle childhood or early adolescence through young adulthood ( Common courses you can expect to take include motor skill development, coaching principles, leading team sports and promoting lifelong wellness.

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