High School Gym Teacher Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a high school gym teacher. Learn about educational requirements, certification and potential earnings to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Athletic Coaching degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a High School Gym Teacher?

A high school gym teacher is an education professional that specializes in instructing students in grades nine through twelve in physical fitness. They prepare lesson plans and teach classes. They also use tests and assignments to grade students, and may also assess their students based on their ability to perform a specific fitness task or sports-related skill. As part of their class they will often lead student games in sports that are being studied so that students learn from hands-on experience. These teachers promote an active lifestyle and impart to their students the benefits of physical fitness.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Physical education
Key Responsibilities Create lesson plans, coach team sports, physical fitness instruction
Licensure & Certification Teaching license, voluntary certification for physical education through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (all high school teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $57,200 (all high school teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are a High School Gym Teacher's Duties?

A high school gym teacher, or physical education teacher, is someone who is an expert in physical fitness and also instructs students. As a high school gym teacher, you plan lessons that include instruction in both team and individual sports, dance, health and physical fitness. You might work as a coach or umpire for high school sporting events.

How Do I Prepare for this Job?

Focusing on health and fitness while in high school is a good step to prepare or a career as a gym teacher; however, most states require a bachelor's degree to gain teacher certification. Bachelor's degree programs in physical education include both general and physical education courses. Coursework covers how to a physical education curriculum, teach fitness concepts and convey game rules. Most bachelor's degree programs are meant for those who want to teach physical education to students from kindergarten to 12th grade, but some programs may be specific to secondary education or high school.

Master's degree programs in physical education are also geared toward those looking to become certified as gym teachers. Often, this type of program can prepare you for teacher certification if you have a bachelor's degree that's not in a fitness or physical education area. Or it can simply build upon previous physical fitness education. Master's degree programs feature advanced coursework in child and adolescent development, health and fitness and education research.

What About Certification and Professional Development?

Each state handles its own teacher certification process, but a voluntary national certification program is available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which offers a certification program for physical education for early and middle childhood or for early adolescence through young adulthood (www.nbpts.org). Earning the certification requires the successful completion of an assessment. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education is a professional organization where you can find information about teaching physical education and coaching sports.

How Much Money Could I Make?

PayScale.com reported in October 2016 that the majority of physical education teachers earned between $29,288 and $62,429 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported as of May 2015 that the middle half of secondary school teachers earned between $45,520 and $73,050 annually (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Middle school physical education teachers and career and technical education teachers work in professions that are very similar to that of a high school gym teacher. Like high school gym teachers, middle school teachers and career and technical education teachers need to have a bachelor's degree and a teaching license. They also need to prepare lesson plans, teach classes and evaluate the work of their students. The key difference between middle school physical education teachers and high school gym teachers is that age of the students, because middle school teachers work with students in grades six through eight. Career and technical education teachers may instruct classes in trades, such as auto repair, and focus on training students for specific career fields.

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