How to Become a Physical Education Teacher

Those who become physical education teachers are interested in a rewarding career that demands patience, allows them to share knowledge in an area they are passionate about, and allows them to play a key role in the development of children teenagers.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get started in this profession. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Physical Education Teacher

To become a physical education teacher in Canada, you need four years of post-secondary education leading to a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree, with an emphasis in Physical Education. Courses may include kinesiology, exercise physiology, health teaching methods, aerobics, recreational sports and applied physical education.


In the United States, the requirements are slightly different, and vary from state to state; all states require public physical teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in an area such as Health and Physical Education, Kinesiology or Exercise Science.


In Canada and the United States, most Bachelor of Education, or Teacher Education (also known as Teacher Preparation) programs involve learning how to properly and effectively present information to students, as well as how to work with students of varying abilities. Programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching and internships.


Please Note: Some states, provinces or specific school boards require physical education teachers to have a Master’s degree in Education in order to teach.




Physical Education Teacher Job Description

Physical education teachers (also known as P.E. Teachers, Phys Ed. Teachers) instruct students how to play various sports and as well as teach them about the benefits of physical activity. A physical education teacher must possess basic knowledge of sports and health sciences in order to instruct students about sports, physical development and health. 



General Job Duties

• Maintain high levels of physical fitness in order to instruct different groups of students throughout the day

• Maintain current knowledge of instructional methods

• Teach students how to play various sports and how to exercise safely

• Organize physical education activities and curriculum

• Encourage and motivate students to participate in physical activity

• Liaise with parents and school administrators

• Administer emergency procedures and first aid when necessary



Who Hires Physical Education Teachers?

Public and private schools that offer physical education programs to their students hire physical education teachers on a temporary, part-time or full-time basis. These schools include:


• Public and private elementary schools

• Public and private middle schools

• Public and private high schools

• Vocational schools


Typical Salary Level

The salary level of physical education teachers can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, the grade level(s) they teach, where they work, and many others. There is no reliable salary data available for this specific area of teaching, although their pay is largely the same as it is for other teachers.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Secondary School Teachers occupational group earned on average from $24.68 to $47.44 an hour. The survey also reports that Albertans in the Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers occupational group earn an average wage of between $25.27 and $48.34 per hour.


Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of High School Teachers is $53,230 (2010 figures). The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the median salary level for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers is $51,380 per year.




Personal Traits Needed

In order to become an effective physical education teacher, you need to posses certain personality traits. Below are some characteristics of successful physical education teachers.


• Enthusiasm and knowledge in health and exercise

• Enjoy working around students of different ages

• Patience when teaching students with different levels of ability

• Disciplinary abilities

• Exceptional organizational skills

• Punctual

• Willing to work outside of normal working hours

• Responsible and trustworthy

• An appreciation or tolerance of different cultures

• Able to communicate instructions clearly



Career Advancement Possibilities

As physical education teachers accumulate more experience, education and training they may be eligible to move into certain opportunities as they become available, including:


• Department head within the school, or with an external school

• School administrator, such as principal

• Member of the school board

• Educational consultant for the school board

• Physical education coordinator in a large school or school system



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Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Physical Education Teacher, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Fitness Coach

Health Educator

High School Teacher

Personal Trainer

Elementary School Teacher




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this career.



Occupations in Alberta:Elementary School Teacher.” (February 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 8, 2020.

Occupations in Alberta:Secondary School Teacher.” (February 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 8, 2020.

Education, Training, and Library:Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers.” (December 3, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 8, 2020.

Computer and Information Technology:High School Teachers.” (December 5, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 8, 2020.

Explore Careers:PE Teacher.” Lindsey Thompson (n.d.). National Careers Service website. Retrieved January 8, 2020.




Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Physical Education Teacher can be found on the following pages:


Education Scholarships

Exercise Science Scholarships

Kinesiology Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is relevant for a career as a physical education teacher. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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