Physical education teachers instruct classes and lead groups of students in exercise, sports, and physical activities, including cardiovascular and strength exercises. These teachers are also responsible for teaching students about health and wellness, along with basic coordination and teamwork. Physical education teachers work with students of all ages, from preschool to postsecondary levels. Typical PE teacher duties include:
Preparing lesson plans and following a curriculum
Working with classes and individual students on physical fitness activities
Demonstrating exercises and sports for students
Assessing students' progress and providing grades
Providing students with information on health, nutrition, wellness, and related lifestyle issues
Serving as coaches for competitive and recreational sports teams
Physical Education Job Education Requirements
Like other primary and secondary school teachers, physical education teachers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in education and with a focus on a content area. Some school districts and more competitive positions will also require that candidates have a master's degree in education.
Public school physical education teachers are also required to have state licenses and a physical education endorsement. Private school teachers generally are not required to obtain these licenses and endorsements, but this may vary from school to school. Many candidates are able to achieve accelerated advancement with positive work experience and proven ability to engage and motivate students.
Physical Education Job Market
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a slightly higher than average job growth for physical education teachers over the next decade. While student enrollment is expected to increase and greater importance is placed on health and physical education, teacher hiring largely depends on state and local government budgets, which may hinder job growth. Candidates will find the greatest job growth in the southern and western United States, where student enrollment is expected to increase the most. Bilingual or multilingual teachers will also prove to be more competitive candidates in this field.
Physical Education Job Salary Information
Average annual salaries for physical education teachers and gym instructors are about $50,000. This can be a lucrative and satisfying field for teachers with a passion for health, wellness, and physical education, and it can also lead to working with students in other capacities. Physical education teachers may also serve as coaches for school sports teams, giving candidates additional opportunities to demonstrate teambuilding and physical fitness skills as well as to serve as mentors to students.