Is a Physical Education Degree Right for You?

Physical education is the perfect degree for you if you are interested in topics related to health and fitness, enjoy physical activity, and like teaching others how to live healthier lives. Most physical education graduates work in the school system as coaches or P.E. teachers. However, some also own business as personal trainers or fitness instructors. You can also have a career in physical education by earning a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, exercise science, or a related field. Usually, though, a bachelor’s degree in physical education is the best choice if you want to work in the school system.

Advice for Earning Your Physical Education Degree Online

Accreditation is one of the most important things to consider when searching for an online degree. When a school is accredited, it has been reviewed and shown to meet certain standards of quality in education. It should be accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education. A degree from a school that is not accredited may not hold up with employers, teacher certification requirements, or graduate school admission committees.

Required Courses

An online physical education bachelors degree curriculum will include general education as well as major courses. You can expect to complete coursework in English and writing, mathematics, science, and history for a well-rounded education. Major coursework will include classes in kinesiology, physiology, exercise science, anatomy, and educational psychology. These courses will inform your ability to develop effective activities for optimum physical health for students as well as understand the learning process and the education field.

Common Career Paths

An online physical education bachelors program can lead to a number of health- and service-focused careers. Many graduates with this degree go on to work for organizations and schools to educate the public about healthy living and proper fitness. Read on for more information about physical education career paths:

  • Sports Coach

    A degree in physical education, kinesiology, or sports science can lead to a career as a coach. Coaches usually work with student athletes in junior high or high schools. Some elite coaches work for colleges and universities, or even professional sports teams. A bachelor’s degree in physical education prepares you for a coaching position with courses in education psychology, sports psychology, and health and fitness expertise. Coaches teach athletes about game rules, proper technique, in-season and off-season training, and sports psychology and strategy. They also motivate athletes and evaluate their progress and abilities. In order to move in to a coaching position, you will also need extensive experience with your chosen sport, whether it’s track and field, baseball, volleyball, or soccer. Most coaches benefit from their experience as student athletes in high school and college.

    Salary potential for coaches can vary widely based on experience and location. According to the BLS, the highest paid coaches make approximately $65,060 per year. However, coaches working in California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan earned the highest average salaries. California coaches enjoy the highest mean average salary in the country at $42,120 per year.

  • Physical Education Teacher

    Physical education teachers often work in public and private schools at the elementary, intermediate, or high school levels. They work with students of varying age groups on general physical activity and fitness. Physical education teachers usually meet with students several times a week, if not daily, and organize physical activity assignments and tests, including drills, team sports, and more. They also grade students on their progress and participation. A degree in physical education is often required to be eligible for this position as knowledge of health and fitness, as well as effective teaching methods, is important to the job.

    P.E. teachers are experiencing slower than average growth in the field, particularly at the high school level. According the BLS, demand for high school teachers overall is expected to grow by 7% from 2010 to 2020. However, job availability and demand varies by region. High school teachers in general earn an annual mean salary of $59,125, the BLS reports. But please note that this figure applies to all high school educators and specific numbers for high school physical education teachers may vary. Check with your state regulations for information about certification for high school physical education teachers.

  • Fitness Trainers and Instructors

    A degree in physical education can also lead to a career as a fitness trainer or instructor. Many fitness trainers work independently or in gyms or fitness clubs. They might work with clients individually to assess their health and fitness goals and prescribe an exercise regimen to meet their needs. They might also teach group classes in cycling, yoga, Pilates, or aerobics. Some employers require you to earn a training certification before working with clients or teaching exercise classes. While a bachelor’s degree is not required, it may make you a stronger trainer or even improve your job prospects.

    Fitness training occupations are facing faster than average growth in the near future. The BLS projects 24% growth from 2010 to 2020 for fitness trainers and instructors. However, salaries for fitness trainers can vary significantly. According to the BLS, the lowest paid trainers earned $17,070 and the highest paid trainers earned $63,400 for an average salary of $40,235. Fitness trainers often benefit from flexible scheduling and entrepreneurial opportunities, so you may want to consider this when reviewing salary figures.


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