What Is a PE Coach?

Research what it takes to become a physical education (PE) coach. Learn about career options along with degree requirements, responsibilities, and career growth 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 PE Coach?

Some physical education (PE) coaches who enjoy mentoring young students in physical activities also coach sports. PE coaches plan out activities, support and encourage players, call plays and make decisions. They also use conditioning programs to help athletes with their performance. They teach players good sportsmanship, rules, strategies and techniques. They also record the performance of each player to assess growth.

Review the chart below to learn more about a career as a PE coach, including typical duties, common training requirements and earning potential.

Teachers Coaches and Scouts
Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree required in some states Bachelor's degree
Licensure and Certification State-issued teaching license required to teach in public schools Certification by the United States Sports Academy (USSA) optional
Education Field of Study Kinesiology, physical education, exercise science Management, physical education
Key Responsibilities Organize and implement health, fitness, and exercise lessons, encourage physical activity Evaluate physical skills, keep records of athletes, coach teams or individuals in a specific sport
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (kindergarten and elementary school); 6% (middle school); 6% (high school) 6% (coaches and scouts)
Median Salary $41,994 (for PE teachers in 2016)** $39,197 (for athletic coaches in 2016)**; $31,000 (for all coaches and scouts in 2015)*

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

What Are the Duties of a PE Coach?

As a PE coach, you'll organize, plan and implement lessons on physical activity, fitness and exercise. You may teach students games, such as kickball or four corners, or instruct them in activities like gymnastics or calisthenics. You could also introduce them to various sports, including baseball and basketball. Depending on the school's facilities, you might be able to include swimming and track and field in your curriculum. You'll encourage kids to be active, teaching them about their fitness options and different activities they can do to maintain physical fitness.

Your job may also involve teaching in a classroom setting. Physical education coaches often teach health classes, which commonly cover topics in communicable diseases, viruses, sexual health and healthy living. As part of your job both in and out of the classroom, you'll develop lesson plans outlining what you intend to teach students. You may also monitor hallways, lunchrooms or study halls.

As a coach, you'll evaluate players' abilities, skills and talents. You may teach players the basic rules of the sport and special maneuvers, as well as help them learn team spirit and ways to work together. You might also watch tapes of past events to determine where the team could have done better, and you'll keep records of each player and event.

What Education or Training Is Required?

You'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree to be a teacher. A degree in physical education is typically preferred for PE coaches, but you may also consider a major in exercise science or kinesiology with a teaching emphasis. You must meet licensing requirements set by your state's board of education if you wish to teach in a public school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you might have to earn a master's degree to work in some states (www.bls.gov). Licensing requirements usually include meeting training standards, undergoing a criminal background check and passing an exam.

In order to coach students in sports, you would benefit from having experience playing the sport you wish to coach. You'll want to have a clear understanding of the sport's rules and regulations to teach others about it. Some physical education degree programs offer a coaching endorsement or coaching courses.

How Much Can I Earn?

PayScale.com reported in October 2016 that physical education teachers in the 25th-75th percentile range earned an annual salary between $36,000 and $51,000. The same source listed $27,000 to $51,000 as the salary range for the middle half of athletic coaches.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If a PE coach isn't exactly what you want to do, there are other career options such as an athletic trainer or a teacher. Athletic trainers prevent and treat injuries in athletes. They must be able to evaluate injuries and provide emergency care. They help with rehabilitation for those injured as well. Another option is teaching young students. There are several levels of education that also require a bachelor's degree including kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and high school. Depending on the level, teachers may teach the basics and fundamentals or higher level content that prepares students for college or the workforce.

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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