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What Degree Do You Need to Become a Gym Teacher?

author image Beverly Bird
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.
What Degree Do You Need to Become a Gym Teacher?
A physical education teacher in a basketball gym. Photo Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Gym teachers are often required to oversee not only physical education classes and athletics, but to teach health and nutrition classes as well, especially at the high school level. A full teaching degree is needed. At a minimum, the job requires a four-year degree, and in some cases, additional schooling, notes

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Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor of science degree is the first leg of education required to become a gym teacher. Your major can be in physical education or in one of several related fields, such as athletic training, health, or kinesiology, the study of anatomy and physiology.

Types of Courses

A bachelor of science in physical education usually requires about 126 credit hours. Forty credits should be devoted to general education, and eight should be devoted to anatomy and physiology. Kinesiology degrees usually require 44 credits in that specific major, as well as psychology, physiology and anatomy courses. In addition to specialized phys ed coursework, the usual studies that contribute to a bachelor’s degree are also necessary, including humanities, social science, mathematics and creative arts, according to the Michigan State University School of Education. Specialized phys ed courses might include team sports, individual sports, human development, physical education theory, human development, exercise physiology, and health and wellness classes.

Teaching Certificate

Once you receive your four-year degree, most states require that you also complete a fifth year of schooling to get your teacher’s certification for a public school system. The requirements for certificate programs vary from state to state, but completing this program, some student teaching, and passing a final test, usually called the Praxis test, are mandatory for licensure to be able to teach any subject. National certification programs are also available so you can be licensed to teach anywhere in the country. You can’t take a certification program until you have achieved your bachelor’s degree. Licensure can be to teach a certain grade or a specific subject, such as phys ed, according to

Master’s Degree

Many school districts require teachers to continue their education after they are hired, and some require a master’s degree within five years. A master’s degree is also usually required to teach gym and physical education at the college level. At the elementary and high school levels, pay scales for all public school teachers generally reward a higher level of education. The difference in salary between earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree can be $5,000 per year or more to start.

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