How to Become a Physical Education Teacher

Physical Education Teacher Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $47,370
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 9.7%

If you love sports, working out, and would like to work in education, then you might like to become a physical education teacher.

Physical education teachers, also called gym teachers or PE teachers, teach classes to students where they complete sporting activities and also learn about the body, health, and well-being.

As society works to fight obesity, the role of the physical education teachers is more important than ever.

Teaching new sports to kids can be great fun, but teachers also have the opportunity to show students how to best look after their own health, to eat well, and keep active.

Teaching can be challenging, but making a difference to your students can be rewarding.

A good gym teacher will have excellent communication skills.

You’ll need them to help you explain new concepts to kids, and to be respected by your students.

You will also need to be approachable, and also a figure of respect for your students.

Education Requirements to Become a Physical Education Teacher

To become a physical education teacher you will need a college education.

A four year undergraduate degree in physical education or human movement is ideal.

During your sophomore year, most colleges will allow you to enter an education specialty where you will learn teaching and also take part in classroom practice.

If you already have a degree that relates to sports or human movement, you will be able to enroll in a postgraduate teaching program.

These courses will allow you to learn teaching methodology and fulfill the licensing requirements within your state.

In all states you must be a licensed teacher to work in a public schools, while private schools have their own requirements for teachers.

Licensing requires you to have completed an accredited degree program, supervised practice and also to have taken math and literacy exams.

Each states have different requirements for licensure, you can view specific requirements at the NCATE website.

Physical Education Teacher Job Description

When you become a physical education teacher your duties are a little different from other classroom teachers.

You will spend a lot of your time teaching classes in the school gym or outside.

You will also have grading and paperwork to complete.

Preparing lesson plans is also another part of the role.

A physical education teacher will often coordinate sporting events and competitions, and coach school teams.

Here are some of the tasks of a physical education teacher:

  • Lesson planning
  • Sports classes
  • Teaching new skills
  • Marking papers and assignments
  • Disciplining students who require it
  • Writing report cards
  • Attending staff meetings
  • Communicating with parents
  • Communicating with other teaching staff
  • Coaching school teams
  • Organizing sports events

Physical Education Teacher Salary and Career Path

When you become a physical education teacher you can look forward to a rewarding career with a good income.

A starting teacher in a public school makes around $35,000 to $40,000 a year depending on location.

More experienced teachers will make closer to the median range of $47,000 to $51,000 a year.

The top 10% of teachers earn over $75,000 a year.

In the private school system teachers get paid less, however they may get free or low-cost housing and other benefits.

Some jobs that are similar to a physical education teacher that might interest you include:

  • Math teacher
  • High school teacher
  • College professor
  • Paraprofessional
  • Librarian
  • Sports agent
  • Middle school teacher

When you become a physical education teacher you can look forward to a satisfying career educating your students about a subject you are passionate about.

There is a secure job and a good salary available for qualified candidates.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$67,760
New Hampshire$49,820
New Jersey$64,530
New Mexico$54,170
New York$63,110
North Carolina$49,260
North Dakota$50,170
Rhode Island$62,810
South Carolina$47,990
South Dakota$46,110
West Virginia$43,950

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $67,760.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $67,760
Massachusetts - $66,940
New Jersey - $64,530
New York - $63,110
Rhode Island - $62,810
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Athletic Trainers, OCC Code 29-9091, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a physical education teacher do?

A physical education teacher is also known as a ‘Phys Ed’ or a ‘P.E. teacher’.

These teachers educate primary and secondary school students in psychomotor learning and physical activity.

Nowadays, some physical education teachers have also started to incorporate different nutrition and health topics in their classes.

The typical responsibilities of a physical education teacher usually include planning course outlines (must adhere to the curriculum standards and school guidelines); motivating students to participate in the activities; evaluating the performance of the students, their attitude and the level of physical fitness; assigning periodic tests, and so on.

A physical education teacher might also be required to maintain and move the exercise equipment.

It is important for a P.E. teacher to stay in good shape, in order to motivate the students.

How much do physical education teachers make?

On average, a physical education teacher can make a little more than $62.500 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $32.500 and $128.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the school you work for, the location and so on.

Teachers that work in Connecticut, California, and New Hampshire, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level physical education teacher can earn around $16 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $61 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a physical education teacher?

You would certainly need a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health or a related field, in order to become a physical education teacher.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

You must be certified to be able to teach in schools; the cost of teacher certification can vary from state to state, so be prepared to pay anywhere between $40 and $200.

In most cases, P.E. teachers are required to have a CPR certification (around $30).

What is the demand for physical education teachers?

Between 2016 and 2026, the elementary math teacher job market is expected to grow by 9.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is pretty much the same as the national average for all occupations in the United States.

The industry is mainly concentrated in New York, California, and Texas.

How long does it take to become a physical education teacher?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

To become a certified teacher, you would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved teacher education program, pass a background check and knowledge and skills tests.

The initial certificate is valid for 5 years; you would have to complete a certain number of professional development hours every five years to maintain the certification.

The CPR certification is valid for 2 years.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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