Home How to Become a PE Teacher Physical Education (P.E.) Teaching Degrees in Florida

Physical Education (P.E.) Teaching Degrees in Florida

If you are an active person who loves working with kids, you are an excellent fit for a career as a physical education teacher. Florida, in particular, is a great place to be a P.E. teacher. Not only is the weather great year-round, the State Board of Education mandates that kids grades K-5 participate in P.E. for 150 minutes each week and that all grades above elementary (up to grade 12) must offer instruction in physical education. This shows that the state recognizes that physical activity is key to a healthy body and mind. This value means that all schools must have enough teachers to teach P.E. classes, and one of those teachers could be you.

What Does a Physical Education Teacher in Florida Do?

Gym class can seem like an informal place for kids to run around and get exercise. But as physical education has become an increasingly important element to increasing students’ mental strength alongside their physical strength, the outsized benefits of mandated P.E. in schools. Florida’s state standards reflect that with four core outcomes of physical education: movement competency, cognitive abilities, lifetime fitness, and responsible behaviors and values.

Your role as a gym teacher in Florida is to create a curriculum around those intended outcomes that keeps kids active and engaged. It also takes a strong understanding of kids’ development and ability to modify curricula for each age group. In Florida, you also have the added benefit of having year-round good weather to take advantage of outdoor physical activity.

In addition to curriculum development, P.E. teachers often coach sports, monitor recess, and serve as faculty advisors of clubs.

Steps to Becoming a Physical Education Teacher in Florida

You must earn a bachelor’s degree and complete certification to become a teacher of any subject in Florida. There are several routes to both the degree and the certification to become a P.E. teacher, though. Here you’ll learn about those steps and what is entailed in a P.E. degree program.

The steps to becoming a P.E. teacher in Florida are the same steps to becoming a teacher of any subject in the state, with some minor distinctions with assessment requirements.

The following are the steps outlined by the Florida Department of Education:

Direct Pathway
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet, this is the most straightforward path to teaching certification. All Florida state-approved Initial Teacher Preparation (ITP) programs include all of the requirements that lead to certification, including student teaching requirements. Upon completion of your degree program, you’ll take the General Knowledge (GK) exam, the Professional Education exam, and the Physical Education K-12 subject exam.

Educator Preparation Institute (EPI)
If you already earned a bachelor’s degree in another subject other than teaching, this post-baccalaureate program prepares you to meet the state’s teacher certification requirements. Upon completion of the program, you’ll need to pass the same exams as noted in the direct pathway.

Temporary Certificate to Professional Certification
In Florida, some teachers with specific subject-area expertise can obtain temporary certification to teach in their subject. For example, if you majored in exercise science, but didn’t focus on teaching, you might be able to become temporarily certified as a P.E. teacher in Florida. With that temporary status, you can then work toward professional certification while you’re working as a P.E. teacher. These programs take about two years to complete, and you’ll have to complete the same state certifications as the direct pathway.

Courses to Take for a Physical Education Degree in Florida

Courses you will take in a physical education degree program can range from relevant science subjects to topics around curriculum and instruction. The following are a few courses you will usually find in a P.E. degree program:

  • Exercise Physiology: This course provides a foundation in how the body functions with exercise.
  • Applied Kinesiology: This course studies the mechanics of how the body moves and provides content on how to analyze the muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems, as well as the ways they work together.
  • Human Development and Motor Learning: This course focuses on human development and the factors and theories around how motor skills develop in children through adulthood.
  • Elementary Physical Education Curriculum: This course builds skills in creating and implementing exercise and sports-related curricula for elementary age students.
  • Physical Education and Fitness for Special Populations: This course focuses on understanding and modifying physical education for people who are experiencing issues such as diabetes, obesity, or chronic illness.

Physical Education Teacher Training Programs in Florida: Spotlight Schools

All tuition rates current as of the 2019-2020 school year.

University of Southern Florida

Located in Tampa, USF offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education. The Bachelor of Science program takes two years to complete and begins during junior year; this program leads to Florida state teacher certification. It’s a cohort program so students complete the same coursework throughout those two years. The Master of Arts in Physical Education degree is a fully online program dedicated to the lifelong learning of P.E. teachers who are focused on becoming the best educators they can be. Florida state resident tuition is $214 per credit hour for undergraduate coursework and $435 per credit hour for graduate classes.

University of Tampa

In the College of Natural and Health Sciences B.S. in physical education K-12 program, you will take a variety of P.E. and sports coaching courses alongside professional education courses. Full-time undergraduates who take 12 to 18 credit hours per semester can expect to pay around $27,990.

University of West Florida

Located in Pensacola, UWF offers a bachelor’s degree in movement science and health with a specialization in Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) that leads to teacher certification. The program is highly experiential offering both in- and out-of-class practice in teaching. UWF also offers a master’s specialization in physical education and human performance, which can be completed both in person or completely online. It’s designed to prepare leaders in various areas of coaching, wellness, and physical education. Florida residents can expect to pay $212 per credit hour for undergraduates and $377.60 per graduate credit hour.

University of Central Florida

Located in Orlando, University of Central Florida’s College of Community Innovation and Education offers a bachelor’s in physical education. The program offers two tracks: education and lifelong learning. The education track leads to teacher certification, which is required to teach in Florida public schools. The lifelong learning track does not lead to certification, but it’s a great option if you intend to teach or work outside of formal education. Undergraduate Florida residents can expect to pay $212.28 per credit hour.

Career Outlook and Salary for P.E. Teachers in Florida

The demand for teachers is growing quickly in Florida, which means this is a great time to become a teacher. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, elementary school teachers in Florida earn an average income of $50,070 per year (2018). An average salary of $60,320 per year is reported for secondary school teachers nationally (BLS, 2018).

From 2016 through 2026, O*Net expects job openings for Florida elementary school teachers to increase by 13%. The expected job growth rate for Florida secondary school teachers is 14% (O*Net, 2018).

Starting a new career means learning an entirely new industry and set of standards. You can shorten the learning curve and build a comprehensive professional network by joining groups such as SHAPE Florida. SHAPE stands for Society of Health and Physical Educators. This group hosts an annual convention and supports movement competency, lifetime fitness habits, and responsible values.

Resources for Florida P.E. Teachers

  • ThePhysicalEducator.com: This website serves as a connecting point for professional development opportunities for physical educators. There you’ll find resources, communities with which to connect around the subject, and information about professional development events in which to participate.
  • P.E. Central: This site serves as a clearinghouse for P.E. resources such as lesson plans, assessments, research in the field, a job search forum, and a library of resources.
  • SHAPE Florida: The most established professional organization in the field (established more than 100 years ago!), The Society of Health and Physical Educators of Florida is a leader in research and policy in the state and provides professional development opportunities in the field.
  • Florida State Department of Education: As the regulatory entity of licensing and certification, it’s important for P.E. teachers in Florida to keep up on state regulations at the state’s site.