What Is Physical Education?

Physical education is the teaching and leading of physical activity in a school gymnasium or other school setting. Its goal is to improve and maintain students' current health and set them on a path to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives. This article will tell you more about what physical education is and how to pursue a career teaching it. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Physical Education Overview

Physical education, also known as gym class, is a class taught in kindergarten through 12th grade that involves student participation in physical activity. The goal of physical education classes is to introduce students to the basic elements of exercise that will lead to a healthy lifestyle. Students can get exercise and increase their psychomotor abilities by playing a variety of traditional sports such as basketball and soccer, and by participating in exercise activities such as lifting weights and aerobics.

Physical education teachers may also use sports and physical activities to teach about the cultural and historical aspects of sports. In some classes, especially in elementary schools, students also learn about health and nutrition.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2015) $41,370 (for physical education teachers)
Work Environment Regular school hours, typically with summers, weekends, and evenings off
Key Skills Resourcefulness, patience, and communication skills
Similar Careers Athletic/Assistant Coach, Health Educator, Strength/Conditioning Coach, Community Health Coordinator

Source: Payscale.com

Education Required

Physical education teachers are required to have a bachelor's or master's degree in physical education, depending on the school district. These programs can teach you the basic activities of physical education classes and the science behind physical activity. You'll also be able to get plenty of practical student teaching experience, which is required to earn a teaching license.

In general, master's degree programs in physical education contain more in-depth education theory and science components than bachelor's degree programs. Classes may include accident prevention, kinesiology and evaluation of physical fitness


In order to work in a public school as a physical education teacher, you must be licensed. Licensure varies by state, but typically requires you to hold at least a bachelor's degree in a field of education and complete a specific number of hours of supervised student teaching. You must also pass a general teaching certification test and one in your specific field of study. Teachers must also complete continuing education to maintain their license, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Outlook

The BLS predicts only a 6% growth in the number of jobs for high school teachers and a 12% growth in jobs for elementary and middle school teachers from 2012-2022. Available opportunities do vary by subject area and location. More jobs may be available in rural and urban schools than in suburban locations.

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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