Physical Education Teacher: How to Become a P.E. Teacher

Learn how to become a physical education teacher. Review the job description and the education and licensing requirements to find out how to start a career as a physical education teacher.

Essential Information

Physical education teachers, also called P.E. teachers, are educators who instruct students in health, fitness and sports. They may work in public or private schools, instructing students in grades K-12. The key skills required by P.E. teachers include instructing, public speaking, active listening and learning, critical thinking, monitoring and assessment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2015, the median salary was $54,550 for all elementary school teachers, $55,860 for all middle school teachers, and $57,200 for all high school teachers. Let's discuss how to become a P.E. teacher.

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

The first step toward becoming a P.E. teacher is completing a teacher education program focused on a health and fitness-related subject. Some colleges and universities offer a Bachelor of Science in Education program with an emphasis on physical education. These 4-year degree programs prepare students to become teachers for all grade levels. Courses in kinesiology, exercise physiology, health teaching methods, aerobics, recreational sports and applied physical education.

Most schools include a student-teaching experience towards the end of a physical education bachelor's program, which allows aspiring teachers to gain first-hand experience instructing students in classrooms under the supervision of licensed instructors.

Success Tips

To ensure success in their training, aspiring P.E. teachers should get experience working with kids and sports. They can begin by volunteering at a local community center and interacting with children of varying ages. Volunteers may even get to lead some sports activities, which can give students a taste of what it's like to teach athletic activities. Students can also find youth coaching and refereeing opportunities in most cities.

Additionally, aspiring teachers should find out state licensing requirements before enrolling in a program. Each state has different requirements, so students should make sure that they'll be able to get licensed right after graduating from the program. This may be especially important for students who plan on getting licensed in a different state than where they obtained their bachelor's degree.

Step 2: Become Licensed

The next step after obtaining a bachelor's degree is to become licensed. While licensure is not required to teach at private schools, all physical education teachers in public schools need to obtain state licenses. Requirements are determined by each state's licensing board. In general, all states require a physical education teacher to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited teacher education program and pass state licensing exams. Most states require one general exam followed by an exam that focuses on the particular specialty of the teacher.

Success Tip

Physical education teachers are usually responsible for maintaining their licensure by earning continuing education credits. The number of credits needed may vary, so physical education teachers should find out the requirements early on to ensure that they can renew their license.

Step 3: Career Advancement

The final step in the career of a P.E. teacher is considering advancement. Physical education teachers can find employment at any grade level. Along with instructing students, many of these teachers coach sports teams. As they gain more experience, physical education teachers may progress to higher-paying teaching or department administration positions, such as athletic director or physical education director.

Becoming a P.E. teacher requires completing a teaching education program that focuses on health and fitness, after which the teacher may become licensed and is responsible for keeping that license current through their career.

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