A physical education teacher works in primary or secondary schools where they need at least an undergraduate degree and licensure for public school. Internships are also commonly required.
Physical education teachers instruct students in fitness, and they may also coach sports teams or teach wellness classes. These teachers may work with students at the preschool through high school levels in private and public schools, helping them develop physical ability, health awareness and social skills. A bachelor's degree, state teaching license and internship are typically required for physical education teachers.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||License for public school positions; internship often required|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*||4% for all kindergarten and elementary school, middle school teachers, and high school teachers|
|Median Salary (2021)**||$46,111 for all types of physical education teachers|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.
Physical Education Teacher Educational Requirements
Like all teachers in the U.S., each physical education teacher is required to hold a bachelor's degree in their field of instruction from a teacher education program. Some colleges and universities offer Bachelor of Science in Physical Education Teacher Education programs that prepare students to teach at the K-12 grade levels. Courses may include kinesiology, exercise physiology, teaching theory, sports, psychology for teachers, motor skills, evaluation methods, and health instruction. These programs also incorporate student-teaching internships.
While private school teachers are not required to hold licensure, all public school teachers must be licensed by the state in which they are employed. Different types of licensure may be granted depending on grade level or specialty of instruction. Licensing eligibility varies by state; however, most boards of education require the completion of an approved 4-year teacher education program with a minimum grade point average. Licensure candidates may then take a licensing exam that assesses fundamental skills in teaching. Teachers generally must renew licensure every 3-5 years by earning continuing education credits.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all kindergarten, elementary school and middle school teachers is expected to increase 4% from 2019-2029. The BLS further predicts that all secondary school teachers, except special and career or technical education will see a 4% increase in job opportunities during the same time period. Employment rates depend on student enrollment numbers, which vary by location. In general, the BLS notes that prospects are likely to be better in rural and urban schools than in suburban ones.
In April 2021, PayScale.com reported that the majority of P.E. teachers earned $33,000-$73,000 per year, including bonuses. Physical education teachers who coach sports teams or other after school activities may earn extra income. In general, private school teachers earn less than public school teachers but tend to receive more benefits.
The job of a physical education teacher is to promote students' physical fitness through exercise and sport activities. A bachelor's degree in physical education is required along with hands-on student teaching experience. Those who teach in public schools must become licensed.