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How do I Become a Physical Education Teacher?

By Carol Francois
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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In order to become a physical education teacher, you need a combination of education and experience. A physical education teacher is a fully qualified teacher who has specialized in health, fitness and sport. These teachers work at all levels of school, from elementary to high school.

All teachers are required to have a minimum bachelor degree and a degree in education. Physical education teachers can have a bachelor degree in athletics, kinesiology, health, physical education, or dance. This background provides the skills required to teach courses, coach sports and lead exercises.

In addition to this degree, anyone who wants to be a physical education teacher needs to obtain a degree in education. During the education degree, the prospective teacher must indicate a specialty and level of schooling they wish to teach. Elementary school teachers take courses focused on child development, age appropriate fitness and health issues. High school teachers focus on classroom management, course curriculum and preparation techniques for post secondary education.

Rules vary, but most states require high school teachers to become qualified to teach at least two subject streams. Many high school teachers combine physical education with a humanities subject, such as geography or English. Working in the classroom as well as the gym allows the teacher to reach more students and encourage their participation in sports and physical activity.

The experience required to become a physical education teacher is focused on leadership, communication and physical activity. The best way to obtain the necessary experience is to join sporting activities that are of interest to you and compete to the highest level possible. Possible options include soccer leagues, swimming teams and competitive baseball. All these sports provide opportunities to gain leadership skills, fitness and competition experience.

To gain leadership skills and add it to your resume, look for part-time positions as a camp counselor, sport instructor, coach or tutor. Alternatively, volunteer as a tutor for elementary and high school students. This experience will help you determine which age group you wish to specialize in.

Physical education teachers are expected to teach and lead a wide range of sports and athletic activities. Develop a broad knowledge base in sports, so that you can organize and coach. Coaching skills are essentially leadership skills, combined with an in-depth knowledge of the rules and strategies for the activity. Learn about the popular activities in your local state and how they are played.

A very common trend among physical education teachers is to become a certified fitness instructor. This qualification provides valuable insight into the skills required to run a fitness class. Offering fitness classes and aerobics increases the opportunities for physical fitness in the school and does not require much additional equipment. These courses tend to be popular with students who will not participate in team sports.

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Discussion Comments

By anon167554 — On Apr 13, 2011

I am aiming to become a P.E teacher. I would love to work in a university, but i want to know what exams in Secondary school do i need to take for it?

By cupcake15 — On Jul 05, 2010

Sunny27- I am glad that your children enjoy their physical education teacher. It is sad that many school districts have to cut some of the special classes like physical education. For some kids, their school physical education classes result in the only exercise they get.

If that disappears, I can not imagine what the childhood obesity rates would be. I wish physical education programs received more funding. They teach children fitness as well as sportsmanship and should never be eliminated from any school’s curriculum.

I know in Japan, school children begin their academic day with physical education and they always outperform American students, so maybe we should adopt some of their ideas.

By Sunny27 — On Jul 05, 2010

Good article, but I want to say that I have never heard of a physical education teacher offering aerobics classes. My children’s physical education teacher gets the kids going on sports-related activities.

They swim and play kick ball and soccer. My kids really love their physical education teacher. I think that an upbeat and outgoing temperament is necessary for such a career.

You really have to love kids and enjoy all types of sports. I agree that working as a camp counselor while obtaining a teaching degree offers the right exposure for any physical education teacher.

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