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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. 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. 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’s mental and physical benefits have become increasingly understood, P.E. expectations have become more rigorous. 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 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

The routes to becoming a P.E. teacher in Florida are the same as those for teachers of any subject, with some distinctions in 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 fulfill the requirements that lead to certification, including student teaching. Upon completion of your degree program, you’ll take the state’s General Knowledge (GK), Professional Education, and Physical Education K-12 subject exams.

Educator Preparation Institute (EPI)
If you already earned a bachelor’s degree in a 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 field. 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 exams 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

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 $6,410 per year for undergraduate students and $17,324 per year for graduate students.

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. 2020-2021 tuition is $613 per credit hour.

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.

Tuition Rates:

  • Resident Undergraduate: $105.07 per credit hour
  • Resident Graduate: $295.34 per credit hour
  • Alabama Resident Undergraduate: $205.07 per credit hour
  • Alabama Resident Graduate: $395.34 per credit hour
  • Nonresident Undergraduate: $514.01 per credit hour
  • Nonresident Graduate: $923.57 per 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 $55,210 per year (2018). An average salary of $56,640 per year is reported for middle school teachers and $57,880 for high school teachers.

      From 2016 through 2026, CareerOneStop expects job openings for Florida elementary school teachers to increase by 13%. The expected job growth rate for Florida middle school teachers is (14% and also 14% for secondary teachers.

      Resources for Florida P.E. Teachers

      • 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.
      • 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.

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