Physical Education Teaching Credential Requirements in California

Feb 14, 2018

Physical education teachers give students the opportunity to stay active outside of the classroom. In California, teachers will need to complete a bachelor's degree, an approved teacher training program, and demonstrate subject matter competency on the CSET examination.

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama created the program Let's Move!, which was focused on improving physical education programs in schools. She maintained that incorporating physical education into curriculum was essential in ensuring children get their required physical activity. In California, these teachers provide students with a way to exercise more than just their minds.

California Teaching Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in California (2016)* $74,270 (Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education)
$70,100 (Middle School Teachers, Except Special & Career/Technical Education)
$74,940 (Secondary School Teachers, Except Special & Career/Technical Education)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Physical Education
Testing Requirements CBEST and CSET: Physical Education

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Step 1: Complete Educational Requirements

People who wish to teach physical education in California will need to complete a bachelor's degree and an approved teaching training program. Students have a choice when it comes to a teacher training program:

  • Integrated: In this type of program, students will earn their bachelor's degree, complete a student teaching assignment, and receive their single subject teaching credential.
  • Post-bachelor's degree: With this approach, students will complete a fifth year after completion of their bachelor's degree. They must complete two to three semesters of classes, as well as a student teaching assignment.

Coursework for a degree in physical education can include the history of physical education and kinesiology, understanding human performance principles, and the functions of nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems.

Candidates will need to take courses to meet the following state requirements: a computer technology course, an English language/reading instruction course, and a course on the United States Constitution. Alternatively, candidates can take an examination on the Constitution instead of coursework.

Step 2: Pass Competency Examinations

Candidates will need to fulfill the California basic skills requirement. This can be done in a number of ways, including a qualifying score on the ACT or SAT. Many teachers fulfill the requirement by passing the general examination known as the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test). It tests candidates' proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics. The test can be taken one section at a time or all at once. Candidates must earn a score of 41 on each section, which equals a total passing score of 123.

Teaching candidates will also need to take the CSET (California Subject Examination for Teachers): Physical Education test. This examination contains three subtests, with the first two subtests comprised of 40 multiple-choice questions and two constructed-response questions. The last subtest has 40 multiple-choice questions and one constructed-response question. Candidates will be tested on areas like the science of human movement and movement concepts and forms. They will need to achieve a score of 220 on each subtest to successfully pass the examination.

Step 3: Apply for California Teaching Credentials

All teaching candidates will need to submit to a fingerprint check through the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Once candidates fulfill the above requirements, they can apply for their preliminary teaching credential. This credential is valid for up to five years.

Candidates will then need to apply for their clear credential. They must either complete a commission-approved teaching induction program or become certified through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Certification Resources for California Physical Education Teachers

Below are study guides for the CBEST and CSET: Physical Education to assist teaches in preparation for their examinations.

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