Majoring in Physical Education - What to Expect

by Barbara Foster

Physical education involves teaching and coaching young people in physical activity, exercise, sports, and fitness goals. When students receive engaging physical education during childhood, they may be more likely to pursue health and exercise to maintain a healthier lifestyle throughout adulthood. If you think you'd like to be a physical education teacher or a coach, you can start now to prepare for this invigorating career. The impact you have on students can carry on throughout their lives. Get education and career information to find a program that fits your career goals.

Background of the Physical Education Major

Anyone who enjoys sports and exercise might be a good fit for a career as a physical education instructor. Because this job involves working with kids, you would also need to enjoy interacting with youngsters. Some physical education majors prefer to work with younger students in the elementary or middle grades, while others enjoy coaching teenagers in high school. To be successful within the physical education field, you should have excellent observation skills to enable you to work insightfully with students as they participate in activities. Critical and analytical thinking are also important skills, which would help you solve problems, assist students with goal-setting, plan curricula, and implement lessons. When you have a passion for wellness and physical fitness, you can share your enthusiasm with students to help them adopt healthy lifestyles through this career.

Many colleges offer undergraduate degrees in physical education that would enable you to earn either an associate or bachelor's degree. As part of the curriculum, you will also need to complete an internship at a local school. You should also expect testing after completion of your degree to obtain licensing in your state. Maintaining your license will likely involve continuing education and ongoing testing.

Physical Education Major Careers

Providing a physical education for students means giving hands-on instruction and guidance to help students learn physical skills they will need to be active. Young children need gross motor skills such as skipping, jumping, hopping, and running to help them be active and successful in sports and throughout life. As kids grow older, organized sports in school help encourage and foster an active lifestyle. Kids who participate in sports may even be more active and involved in their academic studies. Coaches who work with students have important opportunities to engage them in positive sports experiences. You can teach skills, encourage sportsmanship, and have an important role in leading a student team. Often, a coach has personal experience playing a specific sport.

Other Career Options

Perhaps you are interested in exercise physiology and health, but you don't think that a physical education major is the right fit for you. In that case, you have numerous other options. You could consider a career in physical therapy, nutrition, occupational therapy, or kinesiology. These careers also have a focus on health and wellness, but they don't necessarily involve working with students. You could even become a personal athletic trainer or a dance instructor with a degree in physical education. Working as a personal trainer could enable you to be self-employed, or you might have a position with a fitness center or a large corporation. Some companies place a high priority on worker health and well-being. Within this framework, a business may offer programs at the office designed to encourage and support employees in their pursuit of exercise and fitness, and a professional might work in conjunction with these wellness programs to organize exercise activities, classes, and health screenings.