How Can I Become a Gym Teacher?

Explore the career requirements for gym teachers. Get the facts about degree requirements, salary, 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?

Educational professionals who specialize in instructing students in physical fitness are known as gym teachers or physical education teachers. Their primary objectives include promoting physical fitness and helping students develop fitness skills and understand different sports and sporting concepts. They use curriculum guidelines to develop lesson plans, teach classes, lead sports games so that students can learn through hands-on experience by participating in sports, and they evaluate the performance of their students. They may work with students in elementary, middle or high school, and their duties may also include addressing student discipline and meeting with parents to discuss their child's performance.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Physical education, elementary or secondary education
Key Skills Physical stamina, public speaking, organization, leadership
Licensure/Certification All states require public school teachers to be licensed or certified
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school teachers*
Median Salary (2016) $41,994 for physical education teachers**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Education Do I Need for a Career as a Gym Teacher?

If you want to be a gym teacher, you'll need to pursue a bachelor's degree program in physical education, which can prepare you to teach gym at all educational levels, from kindergarten through high school. Your coursework should cover physical education fundamentals, such as exercise physiology, kinesiology, injury prevention, motor skill development and human anatomy.

You'll also enroll in courses that cover the pedagogical methods used to impart knowledge to young minds. While studying the psychosocial elements of exercise and activity, you may examine ways in which culture and ethnicity can impact the educational experience. Some programs will allow you to concentrate your studies so that you can qualify to coach a scholastic sport, such as baseball or football. Most curricula require you to spend at least a semester student teaching for course credit.

What Do I Need in Addition to My Degree?

If you plan on teaching gym in a public school, you'll need to obtain your teaching license. Exact licensing requirements differ slightly among states; however, all states require you to have completed an applicable bachelor's degree program from an accredited university. You'll also need to satisfy supervised student teaching requirements. Many states also will require you to complete competency exams in your field, as well as in basic subjects, like writing and reading.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a gym teacher, your exact job responsibilities will depend on the size of the institution where you teach. You'll most likely conduct physical education classes for a range of grades and ages. You may have to create, design and implement a physical educational curriculum for the entire school.

You also might be called upon to teach related courses, such as nutrition or health education. Some gym teachers even act as substitute teachers for other courses, like science, math or history, when the need arises. Other common responsibilities include various administrative tasks, such as student record keeping.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Preschool teachers and special education teachers are professionals who share many common duties with gym teachers. Preschool teachers work with students ages three to five, and they may incorporate physical fitness skills and activities into their lesson plans to promote fitness and ensure their students are mastering age-appropriate physical skills. Special education teachers work with students who have diagnosed disabilities and require extra assistance. These students often have a modified curriculum, and the special education teacher may work with a gym teacher to prepare physical activities that are suitable for the developmental level of the students they work with. Preschool teachers need an associate's degree. Special education teachers need a bachelor's degree and their teaching license.

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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