What Are the Duties and Requirements of PE Teachers?

Explore the career requirements for PE teachers. Get the facts about job duties, education, and career 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 PE Teacher?

Physical education (PE) is the focus of PE teachers. They develop lesson plans and teach classes related to exercise and health. They may cover subjects such as first aid and organized sports. PE teachers use exams, assignments, tests and activities to assess student performance in their classes. Like all teachers, they may also address behavioral issues with students. PE teachers may meet with parents or faculty to address behavioral issues, and may also meet with parents regarding their child's progress in PE. A PE teacher needs a bachelor's degree in a related subject area, such as kinesiology, exercise science or physical education. PE teachers at public schools also need a state-issued teaching license. PE teachers may work with students of all grade levels from kindergarten through grade 12.

Kindergarten and Elementary Teachers Middle School Teachers High School Teachers
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's or master's degree
Education Field of Study Elementary education, physical education Physical education, exercise science, kinesiology, education Physical education, kinesiology
Key Responsibilities Teach children about the importance of physical activity and good nutrition, encourage play Help develop teamwork, and introduce students to sports Encourage good nutrition, teamwork, and physical activity for health and wellness
Licensure/Certification Teachers in public schools must be licensed or certified Teachers in public schools must be licensed or certified Teachers in public schools must be licensed or certified
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%* 6%* 6%*
Median Annual Wage (2015) $54,890 (for all elementary school teachers, except special education)* $55,860 (all middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education)* $57,200 (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Duties Be as a PE Teacher?

Through structured games and lessons, PE teachers teach and encourage children to be physically active. You may teach children how to play specific sports or introduce them to activities such as gymnastics, running and swimming. You may encourage students to try out for school sports teams or help them find a physical activity that they are good at.

Like other teachers, you are usually required to give students grades. In physical education class, grades are usually based on participation and effort. You may assign grades based upon the attitude of the student and how willing he or she is to take part in each class. Typically, there are no tests or assignments in PE, but in some schools you may administer physical tests that are graded.

Your job is to help students develop motor skills as well as social skills and cultivate an interest in being active. You are responsible for ensuring all students are involved in the daily class activities and making accommodations for students with special needs. You may also be in charge of wellness programs.

What Requirements Must I Meet?

If you are teaching in a public school, you are required to be licensed in all states. If you work in a private school, you may not need a license. Licensing is handled by each state's Board of Education, and it could require you to be licensed to work with specific grades or teach physical education in particular. Some states only require a general teacher's license. Licensing tests usually require you to demonstrate skills in basic subjects such as math and English.

Most states require licensure candidates to have a bachelor's degree in physical education or general education; some states require you to earn a master's degree. Degree program titles might vary from physical education to include coaching, exercise science or health education. After getting your license, most states require continuing education to keep your license valid. You may also consider optional certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which offers certifications in physical education for teachers of students aged 3-12 or over the age of 11 (www.nbpts.org).

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), high school teachers, except special and vocational education, earned a median salary of $57,200 as of May 2015. The BLS reported that elementary school teachers, except special education, earned a median annual income of $54,890 as of May 2015, while non-special and career/technical education middle school teachers made a median wage of $55,860 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work of high school, middle school and elementary teachers, postsecondary teaches and instructional coordinators all fall within the same professional field of education, which is the field PE teachers belong to. Postsecondary teachers need a master's or doctoral degree to instruct college or university students. Instructional coordinators need a master's degree and determine the curriculum goals and materials that will be used for each subject at each grade level from kindergarten through grade 12. High school, middle school and elementary teachers all need a bachelor's degree and teaching license, and are all responsible for using curriculum guidelines to develop lesson plans, teach students and grade their performance. Other careers with similarities include preschool teachers, school librarians and career and technical education teachers.

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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