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How to become a PE Teacher

What is a PE Teacher?

Physical Education Teachers, commonly known as PE teachers, are responsible for the planning and delivery of PE lessons to students in an educational setting. They provide an environment and opportunities for children to develop physically as well as socially, morally and culturally through a wide range of physical activities and sports. Secondary trained PE Teachers can also deliver GCSE PE, A level PE, BTEC Sport courses and other practical and theory lessons and exam preparation.

What qualifications do I need to become a PE Teacher?

Potential PE teachers normally need to complete Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and then go on to gain  Qualified Teacher Status before they can begin work in schools in England.

This can be gained in a number of ways: The Department of Education will tell you that you can complete your ITT alongside a degree, straight after a degree, as a part-time course alongside work, or as a full-time course, including employment-based routes. The option that is right for you will depend on your circumstances. For more info about how to gain QTS please visit the Department of Education and the National College for Teaching & Leadership

Some Universities offer specific courses for those looking to train as Primary and Secondary level PE Teachers, these are typically three or four years long and offer opportunities for teaching experience along the way. More frequently, sports and PE graduates are able to complete an additional year long PE PGCE course to gain QTS and become NQTs.  Graduates can also join  graduate teacher programmes. These provide on the job training and experience. .

Visit The Department of Education’s – Get into Teaching website for ALL the various routes in to teaching and gaining QTS – Qualified Teacher Status.

If you already have a teaching qualification from outside the UK, then you will not have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK and you need to apply for QTS via the National College for Teaching and Leadership  

(Please visit the UK NARIC website for more details regarding the certification of other qualifications gained overseas.)

What skills/experience will an employer look for?

Some experience of sports coaching or teaching would be hugely beneficial to anyone trying to impress a potential employer. This can be gained as part of the qualification process, with extra-curricular volunteer work or work placements. Most schools are happy for a trainee to spend some time shadowing other teachers and doing so could help make a candidate stand out. Other useful skills are confidence and the ability to control a group, as well as organisation and planning.

Who might employ a PE Teacher?

-Primary schools

-Secondary schools

-Further Education Colleges

-International schools

What salary can I expect?

Newly qualified PE teachers (NQTs) working in state schools outside the London area can expect a starting salary of about £21,000; those working in or near London can expect more depending on their exact location. Salaries for Heads of Departments, Director of Sports more senior leadership and management roles, can range from £45K to over £100K. To find out more about how much you could earn as a PE Teacher visit the National Union of Teachers’ Pay Calculator. or visit our Pay and Salaries information pages. Please note: Independent and Private schools, Academies, Free Schools are free to set their own pay and conditions.

What is my career progression?

PE teachers can move on to positions of greater responsibility within a school environment, potentially leading to a Head of Department or senior management role up through to Headteacher. They can also use the skills and knowledge gained from their teaching to be successful in the sports industry in general including working with or in School Sports Partnerships.

Qualified PE Teachers also have the option to work part-time or on Temporary Contracts to fit around other commitments or changes in circumstances eg. Training for Olympics, family commitments etc. PE Teachers are always in high demand for Temporary and Supply contracts at Futureactive. 

What are the best things about being a PE Teacher?

To be able to teach and share your passion for PE, Sport and an active lifestyle to the children in your chosen age group. In addition, PE teachers are often role models to the children they work with and as such can be a major part of their education and development. Encouraging and facilitating young people to gain skills, compete and enjoy sport at what ever level they can. PE Teachers also get to be active all day and work in a sport-centred role, continually gaining skills which will be hugely beneficial to their future career, whatever direction they choose to travel.  PE Teachers frequently escort teams and groups to compete or enjoy their sport both locally, nationally and internationally.  eg. inter-school matches, netball tours, ski trips etc.

Are there any drawbacks?

PE Teachers need to be physically fit and active and prepared to engage fully with the extra curricula activities within a school. This could include running before or after-school clubs, lunch time activities, coaching teams, match days, tours etc. Working outside might also present a few challenges when the weather is less than ideal.

Why not view our latest PE teacher jobs and sign up for jobs alerts.

More Information:

For more information, advice and guidance about careers in PE, Sport, Training and Fitness and Activity Holiday Jobs, visit our Careers Advice Centre; including job hunting tips,  CV Guide and much more.

Useful Links:

For more information on how to Get into teaching visit the Department for Education.

For more info about how to gain QTS please visit the Department of Education and the  National College for Teaching & Leadership

Visit UCAS to investigate and apply for relevant PE teaching courses, and PGCEs at University.

The Association of Physical Education is the national subject association for PE.

The National Union for Teachers are the major teaching union and can provide you with professional support and guidance throughout your career in teaching.

For information about temporary and supply work, please see our How to become a PE Supply Teacher section.

Thinking about Returning to Teaching after a Career break?  

Schools are often keen to employ qualified teachers who have returned to teaching as they can often bring additional skills, experiences and perspectives to the school environment.  If you are considering returning to teaching there is a lot of help, advice and resources available from Dept of Education’s Get into Teaching – Returning to Teaching website.

For more, read our Blog:

Thinking about Returning to Teaching PE after a Career Break?