The Georgia Professional Standards Commission manages the application process for prospective PE teachers seeking certification in the state. The Commission ensures that only the most qualified candidates are certified to instruct Georgia’s youth on the principles of health and physical education.
To become a PE teacher in Georgia – officially referred to as a health and physical education teacher – you will need to meet all Commission requirements specific to your route to certification.
The following steps will outline how to become a certified PE teacher in Georgia:
|Earn a Bachelor’s Degree that Includes a PE Educator Prep Program|
|Pass the GACE Test|
|Pass the Health and Physical Education Assessment|
|Become a Certified PE Teacher|
|Renew and Upgrade Your Georgia PE Teaching Certificate|
Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree that Includes an PE Educator Prep Program
If you are a prospective college student just beginning down the path to become a physical education teacher in Georgia, you will pursue an approved bachelor’s program with a major in the field of health and physical education. You will also complete a PE teacher preparation program, which is included in these bachelor-level health and physical education degree programs.
In Georgia there are 14 PE bachelor’s degree programs that include a teacher preparation program. Upon acceptance into one of these programs, the PE portion of your curriculum will include:
- Introduction to kinesiology
- Motor skills recognition and development
- Health and nutrition
- Movement and psychology
- Injury prevention
- Development of positive diet and exercise habits
- Exercise techniques and benefits
- Teaching physical education
- Sports and fitness
The traditional teaching preparation program will start with an in-depth study of pedagogy and PE teaching methods and follow this with a student teaching segment. You can expect the following from your student teaching program:
- Work under close supervision with you assigned PE teacher
- Progressively build on your teaching skills with an increasing role in the classroom
- Receive feedback from your supervising PE teacher and modify your teaching and lesson plans in accordingly
- Develop a relationship with students that fosters and encourages a positive development in the field of PE
Alternate Route Options
If you have already completed at least a bachelor’s degree that did not include a teacher preparation component, you will need to pursue one of the post-bachelor’s PE teacher prep programs.
If your degree is in an unrelated field, you will also need to complete college or university courses to earn a major in a PE-related field. In this case, you may want to consider the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP). This is designed for prospective teachers from other fields who want to obtain a renewable teaching certificate, and is offered by individual universities and colleges in Georgia.
If your teacher preparation program is not already part of your bachelor’s degree curriculum, you will find 10 post-bachelor’s PE teacher preparation programs along with 21 GaTAPP programs across the state of Georgia to choose from.
The GaTAPP program also includes a concentrated study of pedagogy, followed by an on-the-job training segment that is in many ways similar to student teaching.
Step 2. Pass the GACE Test
To gain entry into a teacher preparation program you will need to pass the Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators, referred to as the GACE test, unless you qualify for an exemption. This is a general test of your basic abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics.
You can take these subject tests individually or combine them all into one:
- Reading – two hours to complete a series of multiple-choice questions
- Writing – two hours to complete a series of multiple-choice and constructed-response questions
- Mathematics – two hours to complete a series of multiple-choice questions
- Combination – five hours to complete a series of multiple-choice and constructed response questions
To take this test, you will need to start by creating a MyPSC account. This is your online account with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission that you will use to register for testing. Once you have shown you are eligible to take the GACE through your MyPSC account, you will then need go through a separate registration process to create an ETS GACE account and actually register and schedule this test. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) Company is responsible for the administration of the GACE test.
You can find a variety of GACE test preparation materials online.
If you have demonstrated excellence on any of these tests, you can qualify for an exemption to the GACE tests:
- SAT – 1000 or better on the verbal and math sections
- ACT – 43 or better combined score in the math and English sections
- GRE – 1030 or better on the verbal and quantitative test
Step 3. Pass the Health and Physical Education Assessment
One of the final steps to becoming eligible for PE teacher jobs in Georgia is passing the Health and Physical Education assessment. This is also administered by ETS, and can be taken in two subtests or as a combined version of these:
- Test I
- Nutrition, sexual health, as well as personal health and wellness – 40%
- Tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; injury prevention and safety – 35%
- Professional issues as well as mental and emotional health – 25%
- Test II
- Professionalism and instructional principles in physical education – 35%
- Activities, fitness, and sports – 30%
- Science of physical education – 20%
- Motor development and learning – 15%
You will have 2.5 hours to complete each of these tests or a combined five hours for both. All questions are in the form of multiple-choice. To prepare for this assessment, ETS offers a Health and Physical Education Assessment study guide.
If you are already a certified teacher in a different state, you will not need to take the Health and Physical Education assessment if you passed a Praxis II PE: Content Knowledge exam before March 6th, 2007.
Step 4. Become a Certified PE Teacher
To become a certified PE teacher in Georgia, you must first be employed by a school in the state, which will in turn fill out an Application for Certification for a PE teacher license on your behalf. In summary, there are three main pathways to be eligible for this application:
- Traditional route – completion of an approved PE degree and teaching preparation program from an in-state school.
- Out-of-state route for teachers with no experience – completion of a PE degree and teaching preparation program approved for certification by your home state.
- Out-of-state route for experienced teachers – for this you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree as well as a professional teaching certificate that is specifically in the field of PE from your home state.
No matter your route to certification, you will need to have completed the Health and Physical Education assessment unless you qualify for the previously-mentioned Praxis II exemption. You will also need to complete coursework in educating and identifying exceptional children.
Once you have become certified you will be ready to pursue open physical education teacher jobs in Georgia.
Step 5. Renew and Upgrade Your Georgia PE Teaching Certificate
After you have obtained your PE teaching certificate it will be valid for five years. Before your certificate’s expiration date you will need to complete the following professional development requirements to renew it:
- 6 semester hours of approved college credit
- 10 approved Professional Learning Units
- 10 approved Continuing Education Units
To claim these credits you will need to complete an Experience Verification Form. Credits that are approved by the IACET (International Association of Continuing Education and Training) are also accepted. If you hold valid National Board or Master Teacher certifications in PE, this will also fulfill the requirements for renewal.
The National Board and Master Teacher certifications are programs designed to evaluate your teaching effectiveness based on demonstrated improvements in your students. To become certified through either of these agencies you will need to document long-term evidence of the positive impact your teaching has on your PE students and submit this in video and written format to the respective certifying agency.
Nine months before your PE teaching certificate is about to expire you should contact your school’s personnel director to request entry in the Automatic Certificate Renewal Entry System (ACRES). If you still need additional time to complete your continuing education, you may be granted a one-year extension.
As you progress in your education, you will have the opportunity to level up in your teaching certification. There are several levels of PE teaching certificates available in Georgia that are determined based on your education:
- Level 4 – at least a bachelor’s degree
- Level 5 – at least a master’s degree
- Level 6 – at least an Education Specialist degree or the equivalent of a doctoral degree without a dissertation
- Level 7 – a Ph.D. or and Ed.D.
Phys Ed Teacher Salary in Georgia
According to the Georgia Labor Market Explorer, which is the Georgia Department of Labor’s website for labor market information, the average physical education teacher salary in Georgia is $55,468. The median is just slightly lower at $54,480. The beginning level salary is reported at $29,474, although there is a great deal of financial potential. Physical education teachers in the top 25% statewide are reported to average $73,021 and $90,400 among those in the top ten percent.
One other way to analyze salary is by city since it’s not uncommon for salary to be specific to location, as shown here for Atlanta:
Top 25%: $69,422
Top 10%: $89,474
The Atlanta Public Schools also provides data which shows how physical education teachers are paid step-by-step based on educational degree:
Step 1: $55,719
Step 5: $60,921
Step 10: $68,111
Step 15: $76,296
Step 20: $78,054
Step 25: $81,695
Step 26: $83,578
Step 1: $61,290
Step 5: $67,013
Step 10: $74,922
Step 15: $83,925
Step 20: $85,860
Step 25: $89,864
Step 26: $91,936
Step 1: $74,161
Step 5: $81,085
Step 10: $90,656
Step 15: $101,550
Step 20: $103,890
Step 25: $108,735
Step 26: $111,242
The salary table here provides additional information about physical education teachers in Georgia: