Gym Teacher: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for gym teachers. Get the facts about job duties, salary, education and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Athletic Coaching degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Gym Teacher?

Gym teachers share their love of sports, fitness and health with students; they may teach at the elementary, middle or high school levels. Each day, they plan and teach classes in physical education and/or health. They may also coach school sports teams. While many gym teachers include traditional sports like basketball and soccer in their curricula, more teachers than ever are introducing students to non-traditional sports and fitness activities, like golf, rock climbing, bowling, yoga and ping-pong.

Read on to learn more details about this career, including possible salary ranges, education and training requirements and employment options.

Degree Required Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Physical education
Licensure State certification required for public school jobs
Key Responsibilities Engage children in physical games and activities
Fitness and wellness instruction
Teach rules of team sports
Maintain sports equipment
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (all elementary and middle school teachers)*
6% (all high school teachers)*
Median Salary $41,994** (October 2016)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

What Can I Expect to Earn as a Gym Teacher?

According to Payscale.com, as of October 2016, gym teachers in K-12 schools earned salaries in the middle range of $29,863-$63,911. Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) show this is comparable to the May 2015 salary range of elementary school teachers, which was $36,190-$85,550. To get an idea of how location may affect your salary: as an elementary school teacher, you could earn an average salary of $47,630 in Florida, $59,680 in Illinois or $72,930 in New York.

What Education or Training Do I Need?

A bachelor's degree in physical education is the minimum level of education you need in order to become a gym teacher at most schools. Public schools require the degree plus teacher certification. A number of colleges and universities offer programs combining the two; you can complete the certification portion during an added fifth year. State certification typically entails passing tests in basic skills and subject matter competency.

In a physical education program, you cover such fundamental topics as nutrition, fitness training, health recreation, sports anatomy, motor skills development and kinesiology. You may also study the theory and practice of team sports such as soccer, football or basketball and individual sports such as tennis, weightlifting or golf. Programs with a teaching component may include content in education psychology, child development, instructional methods and classroom management. You are likely to conclude your training with a teaching internship in a classroom or gym class.

Where Might I Work?

As of the 2012-2013 school year, there were 98,454 K-12 public schools in the United States. As of the 2011-2012 school year, there were 30,861 K-12 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics (www.nces.ed.gov). The vast majority offered physical education and employed one or more gym teachers, although some shared these instructors on a rotating basis. A reliable projection on the employment outlook for gym teachers is not available; however, the BLS predicts that between 2014-2024, employment of elementary, middle and high school teachers will increase by 6%.

What Duties Will I Have?

As a gym teacher, you engage children or adolescents in physical activities that enhance their agility, strength and stamina. This training is also meant to improve their coordination, increase their knowledge of fitness and acquaint them with the rules of different sports. Activities need to be both age-appropriate and flexible enough to allow for participation by classes of up to 20-30 students. A 2009 survey of 1,164 gym teachers by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (www.aahperd.org) found that basketball, personal fitness, volleyball, jump rope and soccer were the five most commonly taught subjects in school gym programs.

When you aren't leading a class, you plan for your next lesson, conduct research on gym games, repair equipment or order new supplies. You also have some administrative duties, such as writing student evaluations, meeting with parents and attending faculty meetings.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Fitness enthusiasts may also find jobs as personal trainers or group fitness instructors, working in health clubs or recreation centers. These professionals usually provide instruction for adults in areas such as aerobics, dance, weight training, yoga and Pilates. They may also offer nutritional and lifestyle advice for clients looking to maintain their health. Another relevant option is a job as a recreation worker. These professionals lead recreational activities in a wide variety of settings, including summer camps, aquatic centers and senior centers, for both youth and adults.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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