What Certification Does a Physical Education Teacher Need?

Physical Education is a field that is highly rewarding, as you will be teaching children how to live a healthy lifestyle through games and exercise. The minimum prerequisite for Physical Education teachers is a bachelor’s degree with clearance and certification from the state in which you will be teaching, but if you obtain a master’s degree or additional certification, you can expect more job opportunities and a higher salary.

What Can I Expect to Earn as a PE Teacher or Coach?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Physical Education teachers at the high school level make an average annual salary of $58,000, while Elementary and Middle School Physical Education Teachers make slightly less, around $55,500 per year. Those averages vary in every state, though with additional qualifications from a Master’s program, you will advance your teaching ability and be able to obtain a higher salary. If you might be interested in obtaining a masters degree in physical education, check out our list of The 20 Best Online Master’s in Physical Education Degree Programs.

Do You Want to Transition into Coaching?

In addition to teaching, some physical education teachers decide to coach sports teams, which has the potential for higher salaries, though generally coaches get paid less than teachers, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that coaches and scouts get paid an average salary of $31,460. Earning a masters degree in Coaching Education will increase your qualifications and job prospects as a coach. For some of the best options for Masters degrees in Coaching Education, check out our list of the The 15 Best Online Masters in Coaching Education.

What are the Required Qualifications and Certifications for Physical Education Teachers?

  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree All states require K-12 teachers to obtain a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. In special cases, they may be allowed to start teaching with an Associate’s Degree if they are working towards their Bachelor’s degree. Check out the specific certifications and prerequisites for for your state here.
  • Complete a Student Teaching Experience Most states require teachers to gain hands on classroom experience as a student teacher, which typically lasts no longer than 10 weeks.
  • Acquire Certification Each state has different certification procedures for becoming a teacher, though most require completing an approved teacher education program, and passing tests such as the Praxis series of exams. Applicants will also be required to pass a background check which includes having your fingerprint taken.
  • Increase Credentials with Higher Education Most public schools require their teachers to complete professional development courses that keep teachers up to date with teaching policies and practices. Though you can obtain a job as a physical education teacher with a bachelor’s degree, many schools will encourage their teachers to earn a master’s degree, and some will even pay for it.

What are the Degrees and Certifications That Will Advance My Career in Physical Education, Coaching, and the Sports Industry?

  • A Master’s Degree in Health Education. In addition to teaching physical education classes, many PE teachers are required to teach health classes. A master’s degree in Health Education will allow you give your students in-depth knowledge about how to eat a balanced diet. If you might be interested in a master’s degree in Health Education, check out our list of The 10 Best Online Master’s in Health Education Degree Programs.
  • A Master’s Degree in Nutrition. If you are teaching health classes as a physical education teacher, it would be useful to give your students in-depth knowledge of how to eat and maintain a healthy diet. For some of the best master’s degrees in Nutrition, check out our list of The Top 10 Online Nutrition Master’s Degree Programs.
  • A Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology. If you’re looking to expand your career options into coaching work, or really any work that involves assisting, training, coaching or caring for athletes, you might consider a Master’s in Sports Psychology. We’ve ranked nine of the top programs in this discipline here.
  • A Master’s Degree in Sports Management. Perhaps you have ambitions in sports that go outside of education and coaching. Or you’d like to combine your passion for teaching and coaching with a business or sports management degree to expand your career options. We have diligently ranked Sports Management Master’s programs and Sports Management MBA programs that provide flexibility, affordability, networking opportunities, and of course, a world class education.

So what else do you need to know if your journey towards Physical Education certification and career development?

Tips and Resources for a Physical Education or Coaching Career

  • Use positive reinforcement. This goes for working with students and athletes, but also throughout your career. The stereotype of the curmudgeonly, aggressive and abusive Physical Education teacher or coach doesn’t need to continue through you. Positive reinforcement will engage your students/athletes, and do wonders for your potential earnings, promotions or career moves.
  • Keep yourself in shape. Not only will your students respect and follow your instruction more, but you’ll be able to lead by example and keep up with them
  • Prepare engaging activities. Find ways to challenge your students/athletes and surprise them with new drills and activities that make training or fitness fun.

Here are a couple resources to help you through your PE career:

  • PE Central. Here you’ll find lesson plans, best practices, professional development information and other useful resources on Physical Education
  • Careers.govt.nz. Another great resource for lesson plans broken down by a number of criteria including age, in or out of the classroom, and questions for students and teachers.

Now that you know what certifications you need to become a PE teacher, there’s nothing stopping you from building, expanding and transitioning your career in the field of sports and physical education.