Home How to Become a PE Teacher Becoming a Physical Education (P.E.) Teacher in Illinois

Becoming a Physical Education (P.E.) Teacher in Illinois

Acknowledging the importance of physical development and health as well as the evolving needs of such education in the 21st century, the state of Illinois convened a task force in 2013 to update the Illinois Learning Standards for Physical Development & Health. The standards were created in order to be comprehensive and responsive to current health and safety concerns for children. The state began implementing the updated standards in the 2015–2016 school year. This commitment shows the state’s dedication to health and well-being, as well as a commitment to this type of work and can have positive impacts on the job outlook for Illinois P.E. teachers.

What Does a PE Teacher in Illinois Do?

The state of Illinois’ Enhanced Physical Education standards (which began implementation in 2015) are rooted in research that shows children do better academically when they have strong physical health and general well-being. As these standards show, the role of a P.E. teacher in the state goes beyond getting kids moving every once in a while. The standards also show the essential role P.E. teachers play in the overall health of a child.

The learning goals P.E. teachers focus on include the development of the following areas: movement skills, physical fitness, team building, health promotion and prevention, human body systems, and communication and decision-making. These goals show that a P.E. teacher’s role can range from providing coaching and general physical fitness activities to teaching nutrition or about communicable diseases and illness prevention.

Steps to Becoming a P.E. Teacher in Illinois

There are three standard pathways to becoming a teacher in the state of Illinois, which include the following:

Traditional path
If you don’t yet have your bachelor’s, this is the most common step to take to lead to Professional Education Licensure (PEL) Teaching Endorsements. This involves not just degree completion, but also student teaching experience. Once you’ve completed those requirements, you’ll need to pass both the state licensure test and the physical education subject matter test.

Alternative path
If you didn’t complete your bachelor’s in education and are interested in a career shift, you can participate in alternative programs to obtain licensure in Illinois. The Illinois State Board of Education has a list of approved alternative licensure programs (with options from blended, online, or face-to-face) where coursework is specifically designed to include the required experiential teaching component and prepare you for the state licensure exams.

Additional endorsement
This option is for teachers who already have their professional educator license but would like to add an endorsement to teach in P.E. or another additional subject area. The requirements are graduate-level coursework. To obtain a subsequent teaching endorsement in the different grade-level areas in physical education, you must complete coursework in the following:

  • Middle Grades Physical Education or Health Education Endorsement: Requires 21 semester hours, including three semester hours in methods of teaching P.E. in the middle grades, the physical education or health subject matter test, respectively, and the general middle grades test.
  • Senior High Physical Education and Health Education Endorsements: Requires 24 semester hours (12 being upper-division) plus the physical education or health subject matter test, respectively.

Common Subjects Studied while Earning a Physical Education Degree

While attending physical education programs in Illinois, you can expect to take courses such as the following:

  • Physiology of Exercise: This course explores how the body functions with exercise
  • Motor Behavior: This course focuses on how the body develops motor functions over the human life cycle
  • Human and Child Development: This course provides a foundation in cognitive, behavioral, and emotional development throughout the life cycle, as well as how educators must consider this growth
  • Fitness Education Methods: This course delves into methods and skills related to creating and implementing curricula in physical education classes
  • Foundations of Education Theory: This course gives a foundation in educational theories and research in the field and how it applies to the classroom today

Spotlight on Physical Education Training Programs in Illinois

There are many high-quality physical education programs in Illinois. Here are a few established P.E. programs around the state:

Western Illinois University

The Bachelor of Science in Physical Education program at WIU in Macomb, IL, is offered in the Department of Kinesiology and includes coursework that leads to professional licensure. Alongside traditional sports curricula, the WIU program includes adventure and outdoor education, nontraditional P.E. activities such as yoga and Pilates, and teacher licensure endorsements in health and dance. The program also offers school health endorsements and encourages all P.E. students to enroll in those courses. Undergraduate students (both in- and out-of-state) can expect to pay $296.10 per credit hour.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s physical education teacher licensure program within the College of Applied Health Sciences, faculty are engaged deeply in research and education in the field of physical education pedagogy. Mentorship rooted in current research in the area is designed to prepare the best future P.E. teachers in the state. There are three programmatic tracks in what the program calls Pedagogical Kinesiology. Undergraduates can earn a B.S. degree that leads to K-12 teacher certification. Graduate students can earn an M.S. degree and have the option to pursue teacher licensure. And finally, students can pursue a research-focused Ph.D. in Kinesiology with a pedagogical studies concentration. Undergraduate Illinois residents can expect to pay $8,088 per semester, and nonresidents can expect to pay $15,732 per semester. Master’s and doctoral candidates are usually provided with a tuition waiver and a stipend.

Eastern Illinois University

EIU’s physical education teacher licensure K-12 program boasts a 100% job placement rate. Designed for students to complete all state requirements for licensure, this bachelor’s program in kinesiology, sport, and recreation with a teaching concentration provides coursework in kinesiology combined with foundations of education and pedagogy. Undergraduate students who are Illinois residents or from Illinois’ border states can expect to pay $307.35 per credit hour, and out-of-state students can expect to pay approximately $382.00 per credit hour.

Northern Illinois University

In NIU’s Bachelor of Science in Physical Education program, you can expect to study the “whole child” with a strong focus on a child’s development and growth. Beyond traditional sports courses, the program also offers coursework and field experiences in outdoor education. The school also offers a MS.Ed. in Kinesiology and Physical Education, allowing you to further specialize in the field. All undergraduate students (both in-state and out-of-state) can expect to pay $4,732 per term for full-time enrollment. Graduate students owe $357 per credit hour.

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

With a higher than national average salary for P.E. teachers, Illinois is an excellent place to establish your career. Additionally, the growth rate for both elementary and secondary teachers in general in Illinois is 4% showing there is a positive career outlook (O*Net, 2018).

To learn more about the expected salary for teachers in Illinois, refer to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ site at the following links:

Mean Teaching Salaries in Illinois

  • Elementary School Teachers in Illinois: $62,140
  • Middle School Teachers in Illinois: $63,630
  • High School Teachers in Illinois: $74,340
  • 2016-2026 Growth: 4% for all

Salary information from Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth information from CareerOneStop.

Resources for Illinois P.E. Teachers