A career in physical education involves sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm about health, fitness and sports with students, as well as motivating them. Read on to learn more about education requirements, earnings and employment outlook for physical education teachers.
Physical education can be a rewarding field for those who are passionate about fitness and want to help others live healthier lifestyles. As a physical education teacher, you may work with children or adults, organizing exercise or sports programs and teaching the concepts of health and fitness. Physical education teachers are also responsible for providing instruction on how to care for and prevent athletic injuries.
If you like working with children, many schools offer degree programs in physical education that can lead to a professional certification. Programs in early childhood education might also be available. Specialized coursework can also help you acquire the training you need to coach sports at the junior and high school levels. If you prefer working with older learners, you may want to consider a career as an adult education teacher.
Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected an average growth in employment for teachers at the elementary and middle school levels between 2012 and 2022. A slower-than-average increase is expected for those teaching at the high school level during the same 10-year period. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for an elementary school teacher was $53,590; middle and high school teachers earned $53,940 and $55,360 respectively. In some schools, teachers who coached sports and other extracurricular activities earned extra pay (www.bls.gov).
If you decide to become a physical education teacher, you'll need a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education or a related field of study, such as exercise science or health. As a physical education student, you may take courses in educational psychology, anatomy and physiology, coaching and health education. Graduate programs in physical education are also available. Course topics may include additional instruction in adapted physical education, curriculum and assessment, as well as leadership and advocacy. Like most, if not all, teacher preparation programs, degree requirements include fieldwork and a student teaching experience.
While a bachelor's degree in physical education may help you qualify for a position in a private school, most public school districts will only consider candidates with a state teaching license. The requirements for licensure vary by state, but candidates typically must pass a teacher certification test, as well as an exam specific to the subject area they plan to teach, such as physical education. Other possible licensure requirements include supervised student teaching experience and a minimum GPA earned during the bachelor's degree program.