Physical Education Career Information and Education Requirements

Physical education teachers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about degree programs, job duties, career information and licensure to see if this is the right choice for you.

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Physical education teachers promote the importance of exercise and nutrition to their students. To become a physical education teacher at an elementary or high school level requires a bachelor's degree and licensure according to state requirements. Additional training may be required for certain positions.

Essential Information

Physical education teachers instruct students about physical fitness and general health from kindergarten through high school. These teachers must typically have at least a bachelor's degree, often in a health-related subject. Teaching in a public school requires a state license or certification. Those individuals who wish to teach at a postsecondary level must have a master's degree or doctorate.

Required Education Varies by the level one wishes to teach; typically, a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in physical education or another health-related discipline
State Licensure or Certification Required to teach at a public elementary or secondary school
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for kindergarten and elementary school teachers); 6% (for high school teachers)*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $54,890 (for elementary school teachers); $57,200 (for high school teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physical Education Career Information

Physical education teachers are usually employed to teach children from the kindergarten level through high school. They promote physical activity and well-being through a variety of physical activities and sports. Students also might learn about CPR, first aid and overall health during their physical education period.

Physical education teachers also might serve as coaches for schools' sports teams or as health teachers. They must be physically fit, as most of their days are spent on their feet, and an overall knowledge of sporting and physical activity equipment is necessary.

Physical education teachers must develop lesson plans and prepare props and equipment just as any other teacher would. They must assure that their lesson plans are appropriate and effective for all students.

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  • Kinesiology and Exercise Science
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Education Requirements

Typically, physical education teachers must complete a bachelor's degree program at a 4-year college or university. The degree is usually health-related, and courses might cover kinesiology, exercise physiology, health and wellness, sports psychology and physical activity instruction in areas like volleyball, aerobics, golf, basketball and related activities.

In addition to these core courses, general teaching and physical education-specific teaching courses are offered. During matriculation at a college or university, many physical education teachers participate in an internship or student-teaching experience.

Those training to be physical education teachers might work as assistant coaches for a local grade school or community sports team. For physical education teachers who wish to work as coaches, additional training might be required in the sport or activity they choose to coach. Additional training can often be obtained through the university or through a separate community college program. Physical educators interested in advanced instructional careers might be required to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in health, physical education or a related field.

There are many components to being a physical education teacher, from teaching kids about the importance of physical activity to instructing students on how to work together in team sports. While job growth doesn't seem very high at the moment, getting a licensure and additional training in the physical education field will boost employment prospects.

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