PE (physical education) teachers primarily work in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges, teaching sports and fitness to young people. As such, if you love sports and physical exercise, are interested in sharing your skills and helping young people to learn, getting a job in PE could be an ideal career.
You could work in state or independent schools and colleges – including free schools, academies, sixth forms and further education. You can also work in pupil referral units, prisons and young offenders’ institutions. Temporary PE supply teaching jobs are also available, working in different schools for short periods to cover the absences of permanent teachers.
If you’re considering applying for PE teacher vacancies, read on to learn what jobs to do with PE are available and get an overview of what’s involved in entry-level PE jobs in teaching and non-teaching roles.
what is a typical PE teacher job description?
If you’re considering a PE job but are unsure of what the role will entail, we’ve brought together the most common job description below. These will differ depending on the role – secondary PE teacher jobs will be more complex than those at the primary level, for example – so be sure to study the job specifications of PE teacher vacancy listings in detail before you apply.
In general, PE teachers are responsible for:
- Preparing lessons and teaching materials
- Teaching classes of different ages and abilities, adapting lessons so everyone can take part
- Running team practices, sports clubs and coaching sessions – usually outside of ‘normal’ school hours
- Managing class behaviour
- Arranging matches with other schools and colleges
- Ensuring students stay safe while training
- Setting and marking homework and assignments and preparing students for examinations
- Attending meetings and training
- Talking to parents and carers about individual students’ progress
- Attending school events, open days and social activities.
- Lower secondary school PE teachers need to teach the primary or secondary curriculum, depending on the age of the children you teach.
Most schools will also require their PE job applicants to have the following skills, interests and qualities:
- Personal physical fitness
- Knowledge of physical education and its impact on child development
- Understanding of how the human body works
- Knowledge of the National PE Curriculum
- Ability to develop positive relationships with a range of personality types
- Ability to work in a team, as well as use your initiative
- Enthusiasm for your subject to inspire and motivate students to take part in sport – not everyone is as keen as you are!
- Ability to prepare students for exams
- Excellent communication skills
- Good organisational and time-management skills
- Good class management and ability to deal with challenging behaviour
- Patience and humour
- Experience of working with young people (paid or volunteering), e.g. youth work or holiday schemes.
- A driving licence, to transport teams to away matches
what qualifications do I need to be a PE teacher?
The most common routes to PE teaching jobs are via Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET). This can be carried out through:
- University training (undergraduate or postgraduate degrees)
- School-led, work-based training
Both routes lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) upon successful completion of a year-long induction in employment. This status is legally required for some PE teacher vacancies at schools in the UK, and many others use it as a means of certifying whether prospective staff are properly qualified.
Either of the two routes requires you to have:
- GCSEs at grades A-C in English and maths (and science if you teach in middle schools)
- Passes (before starting ITET) in numeracy and literacy skills tests
- Enhanced background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
To learn more about the various ways you can get a job to do with PE, view our guide.
is it possible to move from a job in sports coaching to PE?
Wondering if you can use your sports coaching experience in a new job in PE? Doing so is possible, but you will still need the right training.
If you have a degree in PE or a sports-related field that gave you experience in secondary schools, you could enter teaching by initially working as a coach in school and then progressing to a teacher training programme. For this to happen, you’ll need to have coaching awards, such as UK Coaching Certificates (UKCC).
what in-role training and development can I expect?
After ITET, you’ll need to pass induction while in a PE teaching job to become fully qualified. This lasts three terms, during which you’ll have a reduced teaching load and be supported by a mentor. You’ll be observed and assessed to meet standards.
After you’ve passed this initial induction, you’ll be ready to bring the life-changing benefits of physical education to young people. PE teacher job training will continue as and when the school or government deems it important, with this being conducted via teacher training days.
how much do PE teachers make?
The typical salaries for PE teacher vacancies differ depending on the school and role, but according to the National Careers Service, the main salaries range from £25,700 to £41,600 per year. London teachers are typically paid more than elsewhere in the UK, alongside PE teachers with more experience.
There are separate scales for advanced skills teachers or for leadership roles, and additional payments for teachers that take on extra responsibilities.
If you are a PE graduate, in some academies, free schools and private schools, you may be employed as an unqualified teacher. For these, 2021/2022 pay scales provided by NASUWT range from £18,200 to £28,700 (or £22,800 to £33,400 in inner London).
what further opportunities are there for people in PE jobs?
There are plenty of career opportunities available in PE – more than you may think. Further into your career as a PE teacher, you could progress to curriculum leader, head of department or move into the pastoral side of education, later becoming a deputy or assistant headteacher or principal. All these roles are open to PE teachers as much as they are to teaching professionals in any other subject.
You may be able to become an advanced skills teacher, supporting colleagues alongside teaching classes. You may also want to become a specialist leader of education, supporting teachers across other schools. Lastly, you can train to work for an exam board or in sports development for a local authority.
As a result, a job in PE isn’t necessarily just about teaching students – there are plenty of opportunities to strive for in your career too.
is PE teaching a good job?
If you enjoy hands-on, interactive work with young people, and a role where you can really see the positive effects of your teaching on the physical and mental health of pupils, chances are you’ll enjoy a job in PE.
View our education careers CV template for expert help on applying. Then make sure to head over to our education careers listings to find PE jobs near you. For more information on getting the perfect PE job for your skills and experience, get in touch with our team.