10 Physical Education Jobs

Updated March 10, 2023

Knowing the most popular careers in physical education can improve your odds of finding a suitable job in the field. Regardless of what physical education career you choose to pursue, knowing its main requirements and responsibilities can have a direct impact on your success. Working a job that's related to physical education can lead to a successful career, and it's helpful to know about various other career paths. In this article, we discuss some of the most desirable careers in the field of physical education.

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Job opportunities in physical education

Having a physical education degree can give you the skills to perform many jobs that involve teaching children, adults, seniors and athletes how to maintain their physical shape or reach new levels of fitness. Here are 10 job opportunities in physical education:

1. Dance instructor

National average salary: $18,098 per year

Primary duties: Dance instructors typically work in dance studios, schools and after-school programs. They teach their students the basic principles of movement of various dance styles, depending on their specialty. Although working as a dance instructor in a private studio doesn't officially require a degree, earning one in dance education or physical education can help you improve your knowledge and skills. Dance instructors who wish to work in public schools also need to complete a teacher education program.

2. Athletic coach

National average salary: $29,425 per year

Primary duties: Athletic coaches are tasked with coaching either young people in school and college or professional athletes, typically in one particular sport. Those who work in schools are sometimes required to take special teaching courses. Although one of the most relevant experience and knowledge indicators is the coach's history of playing the respective sport, a physical education degree can offer more in-depth knowledge regarding physical development, physical recovery and other aspects related to the human body.

3. Sport journalist

National average salary: $35.420 per year

Primary duties: Sports journalists create and deliver content related to one or more sports. Although their primary duty is discussing or writing about a certain sport, they need to put themselves in a good position to do that by traveling to various sports events, networking with professionals who are directly involved in the industry and performing research. Working as a sports journalist usually requires extensive knowledge regarding one or more sports and physical education in general, so many such roles are taken by former athletes and other sports and fitness professionals.

Related: Learn About Being a Journalist

4. Athletic trainer

National average salary: $43,790 per year

Primary duties: Athletic trainers are healthcare workers hired by various institutions, such as schools, colleges, hospitals, fitness centers and professional sports teams. Their role is to diagnose and treat people who have sustained various musculoskeletal injuries and also to teach various methods of injury prevention. They typically act as the link between patients and the physicians who treat them. Becoming an athletic trainer requires at least a bachelor's degree with courses in kinesiology, exercise science, sports medicine or athletic training.

Related: Learn About Being an Athletic Trainer

5. Physical education teacher

National average salary: $46,788 per year

Primary duties: The physical education teacher job is one of the most often-encountered careers for physical education majors. They usually work in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges, teaching students various physical games and skills, instructing them regarding the use of equipment and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Aside from a degree in physical education, P.E. teachers also need a teaching certificate which requires courses in child development, pedagogy and other educational topics.

6. Sports dietitian

National average salary: $47,331 per year

Primary duties: Sports dietitians provide professional and amateur athletes counseling regarding individual or team nutrition programs designed to maximize their performance. Aside from creating personalized diets based on unique physical characteristics and the specific goals an athlete or a team wants to achieve, sports dietitians also work to keep up to date with the latest industry developments and find ways to implement them in their routines. Most sports dietitians have degrees in clinical nutrition or a similar area. The job also requires extensive physical education training and knowledge, to help you understand how performance can be improved by nutrition.

Related: Learn About Being a Dietitian

7. Fitness instructor

National average salary: $55,769 per year

Primary duties: Fitness instructors can either train one person individually or teach fitness to groups of students. Although a degree in physical education is not always required for becoming a fitness instructor, being able to pass whichever certification exam you choose to pursue requires knowledge in anatomy, physiology and other subjects that you learn by pursuing the degree. Graduating from a human movement science program can also lead to a career as a fitness instructor, as it teaches you complex principles of human motion that you can use in creating exercise routines.

8. Senior fitness instructor

National average salary: $61,557 per year

Primary duties: Senior fitness instructors specialize in assisting in the development of a healthier and more physical lifestyle for senior adults. They typically have skills and knowledge in areas such as the physiological and anatomical changes that come with advanced age, the psychosocial component of aging and the physical guidelines for safe exercise sessions designed for senior citizens. Those who want to pursue a career as senior fitness instructors typically require a sports or body movement-related degree, along with senior fitness specialization.

9. Physical therapist

National average salary: $82,469 per year

Primary duties: Physical therapists work with patients that have suffered severe physical trauma to help them recover their basic strengths and abilities. The process is usually a long-term one, with many patients requiring months or years of intense rehabilitation under the guidance of the physical therapist before regaining their physical attributes. Becoming a physical therapist typically requires a degree in human movement science and a master's degree or Ph.D. in physical therapy.

Related: Learn About Being a Physical Therapist

10. Occupational therapist

National average salary: $82,570 per year

Primary duties: Occupational therapists work with injured, ill and disabled patients and help them perform basic everyday duties. They help patients develop strength and motor skills, recover from major illnesses or injuries and work on the skills they need to live and to work every day. Depending on the exact patient issue, they can also help patients learn how to use various adaptive equipment, such as braces, wheelchairs and eating aids. Becoming an occupational therapist typically requires a degree in occupational therapy from a program that's accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

Related: Learn About Being an Occupational Therapist

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