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Adapted PE Certificates: Information for PE Teachers

Adapted physical education (PE) teachers design and teach games, sports, and activities to developmentally challenged students who cannot take part in regular PE courses.

Essential Information

Students gain the foundational understanding of adapted physical exercise that is necessary to gain Certified Adapted Physical Educator (CAPE) designation from the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS). Program length varies, but is usually under a year. Adapted PE certificate programs are graduate-level, most typically offered through the departments of health science, kinesiology or education at 4-year postsecondary institutions. Most programs require students to be licensed physical education teachers. They learn about the types of disabilities and developmental challenges that can prevent children and young adults from participating in typical physical education exercises and activities, while studying alternative practices and activities that can help those individuals meet their physical education requirements.


Adapted PE Certification

Most courses offered within an adapted PE certificate program are taught through classroom lectures. They provide students with a theoretical understanding of special PE exercises and cover some of the following topics:

  • Physical education inclusive practices
  • Medical and developmental issues
  • Disability sports
  • Evaluation of physical education programs
  • Legal requirements for special education
  • Assessments and tests

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov) does not state job outlooks and salaries specifically for physical education teachers, it does have information about elementary, middle school, and high school teachers as a whole. According to the BLS, the 2014-2024 job market for teachers will increase 6%. The median annual salaries for teachers at all levels ranged from $54,890 to $57,200 in 2015, per the BLS.

Certification Options

Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS) is a national resource that offers PE teachers several ways to gain certification. Licensed, recently graduated teachers can pass an examination in the subject to gain certification, while professional physical education teachers can waive the exam by providing documentation of at least ten years of experience working with special needs children. Certification is also granted to those individuals who can prove they have completed a post-baccalaureate program including at least 15 credit-hours of courses specific to adapted PE.

Individuals who hold a bachelor's degree in physical education and a teaching license can enroll in an adapted PE certificate program preparing them to earn APENS certification and teach PE to developmentally challenged kids.


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