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. Schools offering Athletic Coaching degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Physical Education Teacher?

Physical education teachers work with students to help develop motor skills, promote healthy lifestyles, and foster a love for physical activity. Their job duties are essentially the same regardless of what age of student they teach, though they will need to adjust the activities accordingly. PE teachers create lesson plans to ensure that students learn various sports and get enough physical activity throughout the day. 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 (2014-2024) 6%* 6%* 6%*
Median Salary (2015) $51,640 (for all kindergarten teachers, except special education)*; $54,890 (for all elementary teachers, except special education)* $55,860 (for all middle school teachers)* $57,200 (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 6% from 2014 to 2024; through the same period, high school teachers also 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 October 2016 reports on PayScale.com, showed that most physical education teachers earned between approximately $29,000 to $62,000 per 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 (www.nbpts.org). Common courses you can expect to take include motor skill development, coaching principles, leading team sports and promoting lifelong wellness.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in becoming physical education teachers might also consider careers as athletic coaches, which would also allow them to work in a school environment and with students. Coaches typically need a bachelor's degree. They could also pursue other types of teaching in various academic subjects, like mathematics or biology, though they would have to pursue bachelor's degrees in different fields during their university career. They could also consider careers in athletic training or athletic physical therapy if they have an interest in treating sports-related injuries. Athletic trainers must hold at least a bachelor's degree.

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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