What's the Job Description of a Sports Teacher?

Research what it takes to become a sports teacher. Learn about job duties, education requirements, median income, and employment outlook 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 Sports Teacher?

A sports teacher may be a school gym teacher or school sports coach. School gym teachers use curriculum guidelines and prepare lesson plans for their students. They instruct students in key concepts and skills related to physical fitness and specific sports, and use practical exams, tests and assignments to grade student performance. A school sports coach may focus on one or two specific sports. They manage the sports teams for those sports. They organize practices, lead drills and oversee the teams when they compete.

Degree Required Bachelor's or master's degree
Education Field of Study Elementary or secondary education
Physical education or coaching education
Licensure Required Schools require a teaching license and completion of an accredited teaching program
Key Responsibilities Teach multiple physical education classes a day
Plan and lead practices
Organize and manage team equipment, schedules, and rosters
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 6% (for all elementary, middle and high school teachers, except special and career/technical education teachers)
Median Salary (2015)* $57,200 (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does A Sports Teacher Do?

As a sports teacher, you could teach a variety of sports by becoming a physical education teacher, or concentrate on one or two as a coach. Teaching physical education could require you to teach 5-10 classes per day to elementary, middle or high school students. You could teach the fundamentals of sports, exercise and fitness. At the secondary level, you might also be responsible for teaching health education classes.

In a coaching position, you'll manage one or more sports teams. Your coaching duties might include planning practices and training sessions, evaluating players' strengths, developing a roster and scheduling games. You'll also oversee equipment purchasing, field maintenance and fundraisers conducted by or on behalf of your team.

What Kind of Training Do I Need?

If you want to be a physical education teacher, you need at least a bachelor's degree in physical education; however, you might need to earn a master's degree. A master's degree in physical education usually takes 2-3 years to complete and can sometimes be found online. You'll learn about different sports, physiology and classroom training. The following course topics are common in a physical education teacher program:

  • Motor learning
  • Exercise physiology
  • Physical education research
  • Student evaluation in physical education
  • Teaching models and pedagogical strategies
  • Advanced exercise

It's usually recommended that you earn a master's degree in physical education or coaching education if you want to become a coach. A master's degree in coaching education could offer advanced training in sports management and leadership in addition to instruction in fitness, physiology and teaching. Common course topics include:

  • Foundations of coaching
  • Sports ethics
  • Coaching practices and techniques
  • Sports management
  • Performance and conditioning
  • Sports nutrition
  • Athlete evaluation
  • Injury prevention

How Could I Get a Job?

In either job, experience is usually required. You could gain practical teaching or coaching experience through your degree program. To become a physical education or sports teacher at a public school, you'll need to pass a state-mandated exam and obtain a teaching license.

Volunteer positions through schools, community organizations or youth recreation centers might improve your employment marketability. If you want to become a head coach, you'll usually need to start out as an assistant, equipment or specialty coach before moving into a position of greater leadership responsibility. Some states also require you to earn coaching or teaching certification.

How Much Could I Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for elementary, middle and high school teachers was expected to increase 6% between 2014 and 2024, though your employment opportunities could improve if you're willing to relocate (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the median annual salary of all high school teachers was $57,200.

The BLS also stated that schools and colleges were expected to increase the demand for coaches during the same time period as more schools were built and athletic programs increased. Overall growth for athletic coaches was 6%, according to the BLS. Coaches' salaries often fluctuated based on the size of a school and team performance. BLS figures in May 2015 showed coaches employed at elementary through high school earned a median income of $34,800 while college and university coaches took home $55,210.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work that sports teachers do is similar to the work of fitness trainers and instructors and athletic trainers. All of these professionals work with individuals who are performing physical fitness exercise or participating in a particular sport. Fitness trainers and instructors may teach individuals of all ages, and their objective is to promote a healthy lifestyle and motivate their classes to engage in the sport they're instructing. This is similar to the work that sports teachers do when they work as gym teachers. The work of athletic trainers is closely connected to the work of sports teachers when they work as athletic coaches. Athletic trainers focus on injury prevention or treatment. They may instruct athletes in exercises that can help prevent specific injuries that are common in their field, and they may diagnose players when they are injured. Fitness trainers and instructors do not need any formal postsecondary training, but athletic trainers need a bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline to prepare for their career.

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