PE Teacher: Job Profile and Role

For some of us, the following lessons were the absolute highlight of the school day or week, whereas, for others, they were absolute hell on earth: PE or physical education. Either perception was not necessarily connected to the PE teacher but more likely to the individual fitness levels and love for physical exercise. Maybe you are one of the people who have always loved PE which is why you are now considering becoming a PE teacher?

In this blog, we will give you a detailed overview of the job of a PE teacher. You will find out how much you will likely earn, who will employ you, and what your typical working hours are. You will also find out which qualifications and skills are needed to become a Physical Education teacher. To give you an idea about the working day in this profession, we will give you a few insights into a day in the life of a PE teacher. We conclude this blog with three valuable tips for thriving as a PE teacher.

Short Summary

  • As a PE teacher, you are in charge of your students’ physical education. This includes teaching them different kinds of sports as well as different techniques, approaches, and rules.
  • As a PE teacher, you are responsible for planning and developing a curriculum. This curriculum defines what PE tasks you want to cover with your students in the coming term.
  • As a PE teacher, you are required to be health and safety conscious, this way ensuring that your students are both kept out of harm’s way and treated appropriately in case of an emergency or injury.

The Importance of Physical Education According to Students

The following might come as both a very unexpected and very welcoming surprise. Recent worldwide surveys have shown that a huge percentage of students think that PE is, in fact, one of the most important school subjects since it improves both their fitness levels and general health. For example, 41 % stated that PE relieves stress, 32 % stated that it gives them self-confidence, and 30 % stated that it helps them focus and solve problems.

Job description

As a PE teacher, you are responsible for the physical education of your students, regardless of which age group you are teaching. Teaching PE does not only involve different sports and approaches to learning them, such as football, swimming, dancing, and gymnastics but also the techniques and rules behind them. It is another job of a PE teacher to teach the students about a healthy lifestyle which tends to include nutritional advice. A PE teacher should also be knowledgeable about the human body’s anatomy and be proficient in first aid. These two competencies ensure that a PE teacher knows how to deal with injuries and other medical emergencies. It is the job of a PE teacher to also assess the students’ progress and levels of physical education by setting and marking exams.


  • Equipment/Facility Management
  • Teaching Physical Education
  • Demonstrating Techniques
  • Organising Sports/Games
  • Curriculum Development
  • Individualised Instruction
  • Evaluation and Grading
  • Fitness Assessment
  • Health Education
  • Safety/First Aid

Different types of PE Teachers

  • Dance/Gymnastics Instructor
  • Outdoor Education Instructor
  • Private School PE Teacher
  • Community Sports Coach
  • University Lecturer


PE teachers in the UK tend to be paid between£28,000 and £41,000 per year. According to most statistics, the average annual salary for UK-based PE teachers comes in at around £35,200. Affecting factors are the type of employment – part-time, full-time, or self-employed – the employer, and the employer’s location. 

Even though it is commonly assumed that the highest annual wages can be found in the South of the United Kingdom and England specifically, this does not necessarily apply to the job of a PE teacher. Currently, you can expect higher annual salaries in Scotland where you can earn up to £38,500 per year, whereas Wales pays slightly more than England. Salaries for PE teachers in Northern Ireland start at £30,000 per year.

Working hours

Full-time PE teachers in the UK work an average of 37 hours a week. These take place during school hours which are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. You should keep in mind that these hours only make up the paid working hours as stated in your teaching contract. 

Typically, you need to add a few more hours per week. They accumulate through lesson preparation, curriculum planning, assessments, grading, and reports. Further hour-increasing factors are meetings with staff and parents. Sports events can also add to your weekly working hours, albeit not every week.

Please make sure that you are fine with your future workload. Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. A healthy work-life balance is important to face the challenges of your PE teacher’s job.


PE teachers can find employment in different sectors/institutions. One of the most obvious employers is schools, ranging from primary to secondary schools. As a PE teacher, you may also be interested in other employers, such as fitness studios, private persons, or even corporate employers. Another option can be sports clubs or after-school clubs that are looking for a PE teacher.


You can become a PE teacher by either earning an academic degree which sets you up for your qualified teacher status (QTS), a Teacher Level 6 Degree apprenticeship, or through work, for example, as a sports coach at school, college, or university. Generally, you need between four and five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and Maths. For a university course, you can also apply for entry with two to three equivalent A-Levels, such as Biology, or Sports Science. An apprenticeship usually requires a degree for a teaching apprenticeship. 

The job as a PE teacher could be suitable for you if you have one or more of the following qualifications:


As a PE teacher, you should have strong interpersonal skills. Not only because you deal with children, adolescents, or grown-ups as students but also because you have to liaise with colleagues and the head of the department or school or another kind of boss. Your soft skills should further include strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills. If you have these skills, you are already almost perfectly set up for becoming a PE teacher. What other skills will benefit you in your future job is what we are looking at in this section.

Is the PE teacher job a good fit for you? Typically, an PE teacher should have or develop the following skills:

Motivational Skills

Motivational skills are important skills to have as a PE teacher. After all, some of your students will need your encouragement, especially when they are struggling to make it over the finish line. This does not mean that you need to or even should turn into a drill sergeant. But shouting some encouraging words and cheering your students on will go a long way to ensuring they overcome their hurdles. Naturally, motivation should not only be given to students who may not be the next Usain Bolt or Cristiano Ronaldo but to every student, regardless of their fitness levels and abilities.

Compassion and Empathy

Which brings us to the next skill or skills a PE teacher should have: compassion and empathy. These two skills go hand in hand and are vital if you a) want your students to succeed, b) want to understand them and their needs, and c) want to gain their trust and respect. Whether a student is a future top athlete or not – everyone needs some compassion and empathy from time to time. For example, when a promising student suffers from an injury or when a slightly less sporty student feels like an utter failure. 


Lastly, a PE teacher should always be fair – and ideally, impartial. Nothing ensures your failure as a PE teacher than taking sides and preferring some students over others. And let’s go a step further: imagine you are practising a team sport with your class. In this case, you are more or less the referee. If you are a footie fan, you know very well that being partial and favouring one side usually ends up in heated discussions and sometimes even feisty cuffs. Therefore, as a PE teacher, you should be fair and impartial, and let the best man, woman, or team win.

Career Path

Your career as a PE teacher tends to start with your first teaching post at a school or other institution focussing on physical education. After a few years in the job, you can look into progression to either more senior roles, such as a PE lecturer who teaches the future generation of PE teachers, the head of the sports department or the head of the school. You may also want to think about changing employers and taking your PE expertise to a different professional setting, for example, a corporate environment which comes with its own set of career prospects

Educational Background

Most PE teachers have earned an undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor’s (BEd) in Physical Education or Sports Coaching. Generally, this is followed by doing a postgraduate degree, such as a PGCE (postgraduate certification in education) if your previous studies have not set you up for the QTS. 

It is equally possible to do a Teacher Level 6 Degree apprenticeship which has the advantage of both being shorter than an academic education and enabling you to gain your first practical work experience as a PE teacher. This also applies to the third option of becoming a PE teacher: working as a sports coach. Note that this approach requires a part-time degree and possibly the QTS if you want to work at a British state school.


If you have not gained any practical work experience as a PE teacher, we suggest that you look into the appropriate training programs. Typically, PE teachers in the UK not only need to complete their QTS and/or PGCE, they should also complete their ITT (initial teacher training). Usually, the ITT precedes the QTS and takes a year to complete. Note that some universities also offer training programs as part of their teaching courses.

Continuous Learning

If you have already stumbled across another one of our teaching blogs, you will know what we will say now: that continuous learning is not only something you should instil in your students but also something that you, as a PE teacher, should pay attention to. Your continuous learning curve can include learning about the latest teaching methods, new developments in health, self-care, and nutrition, the latest fitness apps and software, and joining professional associations that can help you thrive as a PE teacher (we will take a look at some possible candidates later on).

A Day in the Life of a PE Teacher

Starting the day with a short workout or run may be part of some PE teachers’ working day. Regardless of your personal morning routines, your day as a PE teacher starts at the crack of dawn (or thereabouts). After you have gotten ready for the school day ahead, there are various tasks that you are expected to perform in your job as a PE teacher. In this section, we will take a look at what these tasks will likely be.

Teaching and Coaching

As a PE teacher, you will naturally teach several classes per day. Teaching is not limited to the theoretical background of certain sports. It also involves coaching which ensures that your students understand the techniques behind a sports discipline. Coaching also means that you demonstrate said techniques so that your students get a visual idea of what is expected of them.

Assessing your Students’ Performances

In some cases, a PE teacher may be asked to assess the students’ performances straight after the lessons. This does not necessarily need to include grades but can also happen as constructive feedback and individual support. Naturally, grading will also be a part of your working life as a PE teacher. But it usually does not happen daily but more towards the end of mid-term or term.

Extracurricular Activities

As a PE teacher, you may be involved in after-school activities, such as sports clubs, fitness clubs/sessions, or coaching a junior football team. These extracurricular activities will also not be a daily occurrence but will affect and shape one or more days of your working week as a PE teacher.

Tips for Thriving as a PE Teacher

One of the philosophies of sports is that you should always strive to be better than everyone else. This is especially true for a competitive environment in which coming in first is the whole raison d’etre for taking part in an event. Long story short: sports people tend to want to thrive and improve. This should also apply to you as a PE teacher.

This is why, in this section, we take a look at three tips that will help you thrive as a PE teacher:

  • Join professional associations
  • Practise what you preach
  • Do not “genderalise”

Join Professional Associations

One tip to thrive as a PE teacher is to join a professional association, such as the Association for Physical Education (AfPE). Here, you can not only meet fellow PE teachers and other PE professionals and experts. You also have access to the latest publications and professional development opportunities which will help you thrive as a PE teacher.

Practice what You Preach

As a PE teacher, you know that physical fitness is imperative. Granted, not every student has either the knack or the motivation to stay as fit as most professional athletes and he or she does not have to. You, on the other hand, should stay as fit as you possibly can. If you want to have the respect of your students, it will likely not help you if your appearance screams couch potato. Even though you do not need to go to the fitness extremes of the aforementioned Ronaldo, you should at least strive to include a certain fitness regime into your life.

Do not “Genderalise”

Do you remember your own PE lessons at school? Were clichés, such as football is for boys and dancing is for girls, both familiar and the norm? Well, you should forget about these assumed gender preferences. They were not necessarily true when you were a student and they are most certainly not true anymore today. So, if you want to thrive as a PE teacher, you should not genderalise. Instead, approach each lesson and sport with an open mind and focus on your students’ interests, regardless of their gender.

Other jobs that are similar and might also interest you:

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a PE teacher earn?

Typically, PE teachers in the UK earn annual salaries ranging from £28,000 to £41,000, with an overall average annual salary of £35,200. Besides the form of employment (part-time, full-time, self-employment), the annual wages are affected by the employer as well as the employer’s location. Note that you can currently expect higher annual salaries in Scotland and Wales.

What qualifications do I need to become a PE teacher?

You either need first an undergraduate and then a postgraduate academic degree, a degree for a teaching apprenticeship, and your qualified teacher status (QTS) to become a PE teacher in the UK. Also, you need between four and five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) to be allowed to enter your chosen educational approach. Note that for the university approach, you can also apply with two to three equivalent A-Levels, for example, Sports Science and Biology. If you approach your PE teacher’s career through work, you have good chances of changing into this job if you are already working as a sports coach at a school, college, or university.

What is the job of a PE teacher?

It is the job of a PE teacher to teach his or her students about physical education. This includes teaching them different sports, such as football, swimming, dancing, and gymnastics, and the different techniques involved in these disciplines. It is also the job of a PE teacher to ensure the students’ health, safety, and well-being at all times. Therefore, a PE teacher should be qualified in first aid as well as familiar with the required health and safety regulations. It is another job of a PE teacher to encourage, assess, and grade the students’ progress and level of physical education. Moreover, it is the job of a PE teacher to teach the students about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.