How to Become a Gym Teacher

Mar 05, 2020

Learn how to become a gym teacher. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career as a gym teacher.

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Should I Become a Gym Teacher?

Gym teachers, also known as physical education teachers, teach students of all ages about physical fitness, health, nutrition, and sports activities. Gym teachers help students cultivate lifelong fitness and social skills through participation in sports. Because they often work with different age groups, gym teachers have to be able to emphasize instruction in skills that are age-appropriate for their students. Additionally, gym teachers are often trained to work with special needs students.

Gym teachers work in indoor gymnasiums, outside on sports fields, within classrooms, and usually work during schools hours and hold office hours. Additionally, afternoons and evenings may be spent coaching sports teams, grading assignments and tests, and preparing for future lessons. Some teachers continue to instruct through the summer while others do not work during summer break.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's for some positions
Degree Field Physical education
Licensure and/or Certification Teacher licensure or certification in the relevant state
Experience Fieldwork, student teaching, internship
Key Skills Instructing, speaking, listening, monitoring, and social perceptiveness
Salary $49,378 (2020 average for all secondary school teachers)

Sources: National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Western Michigan University, ONet Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Gym teachers must have a bachelor's degree in physical education, and they may also have a master's degree. Gym teachers must also have teacher licensure or certification in the state in which they are teaching. In order to gain relevant experience, students must complete fieldwork, student teaching, and an internship. Instructing, speaking, listening, monitoring, and social perceptiveness are key skills that gym teachers should possess. According to, the average salary for all secondary school teachers as of 2020 is $49,378 per year.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education

A bachelor's degree is the minimum level of education required to be eligible for state certification as a gym teacher. Gym teachers are often trained to teach students from kindergarten through 12th grade and of all ability levels. Physical education bachelor's degree programs include courses in exercise physiology, human anatomy, biology and kinesiology. Future gym teachers also complete training in providing physical education to special needs students. Additionally, students who plan to become certified gym teachers are required to complete a student teaching internship.

Volunteering and working in a capacity that involved working with children, such as coaching, is one way to gain experience. Some volunteering possibilities include coaching or umpiring a children's athletic team or teaching children how to dance. Individuals can also volunteer in a setting that allows them to work with special needs students, such as the Special Olympics. Future teachers might want to volunteer to work with children of all ages since they could be teaching students from various grades.

Gym teachers learn health and fitness aspects of physical education through courses, but they also need to know the rules of the many sports they teach. Joining a college sport club or group can help future gym teachers learn to play a new sport or to ensure they understand the rules of various athletic games.

Step 2: Get Certified

Gym teachers, like all teachers, must be licensed or certified in the state in which they plan to teach. Certification and licensure requirements vary by state and can be found by contacting the state's department of education. Requirements may include passing a state certification exam. Many states require physical education teachers to take the Praxis exam for physical education.

It is important to be prepared for certification exams. Content covered in the Praxis exam for physical education spans from health topics to sports games to safety issues. There are study guides and sample questions available online for test preparation. Studying for this exam may help future teachers achieve a qualifying score on the Praxis and allow them to become licensed.

Step 3: Maintain Licensure or Certification

Many states require continuing education or professional development courses specific to physical education to maintain licensure or certification. Typically, a physical education teacher is required to complete a specified number of hours of continuing education every 3-5 years.

Step 4: Get a Master's Degree

Although a bachelor's degree meets the educational requirement to be eligible for certification as a gym teacher, some states or schools may expect gym teachers to earn a master's degree during the course of their employment. One common graduate degree program for physical education professionals is the Master of Education, which is designed for certified teachers. Also, gym teachers who have obtained additional education may be able to advance in their careers, such as by becoming their school's athletic director.

Gym teachers are licensed or certified teachers that education children of all ages on physical fitness, health, nutrition, and sports activities. Bachelor's degrees are required for gym teachers as well as continued education.

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