Physical Education Teacher: Job Description & Requirements

Physical education teachers help children develop physical abilities and healthy habits that can last for the rest of their lives. Becoming a physical education teacher generally entails completion of a teacher education program and state licensure.

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Physical Education Teacher Job Description

Physical education (PE) teachers organize games and challenges that promote physical activity among children and young adults from kindergarten to high school. Their goal is to develop motor skills and physical development among younger children and proper exercise and eating habits among older children. PE teachers must adjust their curricula to adapt to children with disabilities or different physical abilities. Some PE teachers also coach sports teams.

Like all instructors, PE teachers must have strong speaking and listening skills. Besides being knowledgeable about an activity, they need to be able to communicate and demonstrate it properly. PE teachers must be able to observe all their students and maintain discipline within the class. In addition to students, they interact with parents, other teachers and school administrators.

Requirements for Becoming a Physical Education Teacher

While private schools may implement their own education requirements, PE teachers in public schools must hold at least bachelor's degrees. Individuals interested in this profession may enroll in teacher education programs focused on physical education. Curricula include coursework in physical, health and general education topics, such as exercise philosophy, kinesiology, human development and educational psychology.

Teacher education programs culminate in student-teaching internships. During internships, training PE teachers gain experience interacting with children and running classes under the supervision of licensed instructors. At the end of the internship, student teachers are given assessments that rate their performance in aspects of teaching, including classroom management and professionalism.

Licensing

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public school teachers in all states are required to be licensed (www.bls.gov). They may be licensed by either the grade levels or subjects they teach. Prospective PE teachers typically must pass a subject area exam in physical education and a basic skills exam. Most states have continuing education standards that teachers must meet in order to maintain licensure. PE teachers employed by private schools are generally not required to be licensed.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS predicts that career opportunities for elementary and middle school teachers will increase by 12% between 2012 and 2022, while careers for high school teachers will only increase by 6% during the same time. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salaries for elementary, middle, and high school teachers ranged between $53,400 and $55,050 as of May 2012.

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