How to Become a Physical Education Teacher in Maryland

Under the umbrella of the Maryland State Department of Education, the Division of Certification and Accreditation is tasked with determining that applicants for physical education teacher jobs in the state meet certain standards of excellence. As a prospective PE teacher, you will be dealing directly with the Division’s Certification Branch, which has been certifying PE teachers in the state since 1981. The standards and regulations you will need to meet to become a PE teacher in Maryland are determined by the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board.

The following steps will help you navigate the licensing process to become a PE teacher in Maryland:

Complete a PE Teaching Degree and Prep Program
Complete Required PE Teacher Testing
Apply for a Maryland PE Teaching Certificate
Upgrade Your Maryland PE Teaching Certificate



Step 1. Complete a PE Teaching Degree and Prep Program

The first challenge you will need to meet is obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree in a field closely related to physical education. If you are planning ahead as a prospective college student, you will want to choose a college or university with a physical education program designed to result in a teaching certificate. This means it will be approved by the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board and include a foundational PE curriculum of instruction as well as a teacher preparation program that focuses on pedagogy and includes a student teaching segment.

During the initial course of your study when you focus on physical education, you can expect to study topics including:

  • Kinesiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Exercise and motor skill development
  • Health and long-term fitness
  • Human biology
  • Diet and nutrition

As you progress in your PE educator program you will move into the teacher preparation segment that will focus more on teaching physical education as a school subject. This will include instruction in:

  • Pedagogical fundamentals
  • Teaching dance, sports, and movement activities
  • Child and young-adult psychology
  • Sports as a social activity
  • Psychology of sports
  • Student health and fitness development
  • Injury prevention and treatment

Perhaps the most memorable portion of a PE teaching program is the student teaching segment. This is the point where you will gain classroom experience as a physical education teacher. Your role as a classroom leader will increase as the PE teacher you are paired with gives you an increasing amount of responsibility for student direction and lesson planning. This will also be an invaluable opportunity for you to receive constructive feedback from your supervisor and modify your teaching accordingly.

Alternate Routes to PE Teaching Certification

If you already have at least a bachelor’s degree but have not completed a teacher preparation program you have two options that will allow you to become a physical education teacher in Maryland. You can either gain entry into an approved post-bachelor’s teaching preparation program, or in some circumstances you can find an alternative teacher preparation program.

This latter option may be open to you if PE teachers are deemed to be in short supply. In these programs, instead of completing a student teaching segment you will be mentored by an experienced PE teacher while you complete on-the-job training.

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Step 2. Complete Required PE Teacher Testing

As a prospective PE teacher, there are two testing requirements you must pass to be eligible for certification. As you enter the testing phase you should be aware of the company Educational Testing Service (ETS), which is the administrator of several of the required exams.

Initial Exams

The initial exams you will need to pass ensure that you have a basic level of comprehension in the subjects of reading, writing, and mathematics. The following series is offered by ETS:

You can skip these Praxis I tests if you have achieved the specified minimum score on any of the following exams:

  • 1100 on the combined math and critical reading scores of the SAT after they year 2005
  • 1100 on the combined math and verbal scores of the SAT between April 1995 to January 2005
  • 1000 on the combined math and verbal score of the SAT for tests taken before April 1995
  • 24 on the ACT composite score
  • 297 on combined verbal and quantitative scores of the Revised GRE
  • 1000 composite GRE score for tests taken before September 2011

Praxis II PE Content and Design

The Praxis II Physical Education: Content Design is also administered by ETS and evaluates your knowledge that is specific to the field of PE. ETS offers a study guide you can use to prepare for this two-hour test, which includes 90 multiple-choice and two short-response questions divided into the following five topic categories:

  • PE instructional design (short response questions) – 25%
  • Student growth and development; content knowledge – 23%
  • Planning, student assessment, and instruction – 19%
  • Communication, management, and motivation – 19%
  • Collaboration, technology, and reflection – 14%



Step 3. Apply for a Maryland PE Teaching Certificate

When you have met the qualifications up to this point you will be ready to apply for a PE teaching certificate. Most candidates will apply for the Professional Eligibility Certificate, but depending on your situation you may want to pursue a different certification. All certificates cost $10 and there is also a renewal fee of $10. Once you are issued a certification you will have met all the requirements for PE teacher jobs in Maryland and you can start applying for positions.

To make an application, send the following materials to the State Department of Education Certification Branch in Baltimore on 200 West Baltimore Street, zip code 21201:

  • Cover letter with your name, the type of certification you are applying for, and personal information
  • Official transcripts from all colleges, universities, and community colleges you have attended showing the degree you have obtained and the date on which this was accomplished
  • All test scores from Step 2
  • Initial application for certification

Professional Eligibility Certificate – This certificate is valid for five years and available to candidates who have completed the degree and testing requirements up to this point. Intended for candidates who are not currently employed in a Maryland school.

If you are an out-of-state PE teacher who is certified in your home state, you can apply for this certificate if you have at least three years of well-reviewed teaching experience.

Advanced Professional Certificate – Valid for five years and available to candidates who:

  • Have at least three years of full-time teaching experience
  • Have at least six semester credits of continuing professional education
  • Have one of the following:
    • Master’s degree
    • Bachelor’s degree with 36 semester credits of post-bac work with at least 21 of these credits at the graduate level
    • National Board Certification plus 12 semester credits at the graduate level

Resident Teacher Certificate – This certificate is valid for two years and is available to candidates who have been accepted into an alternative teacher preparation program.

Expedited Application for Veterans and Their Spouses

This option is available to veterans and their spouses. Candidates should submit the following to the Certification Branch for a case-by-case determination of eligibility in an expedited application process:

  • DD-214 form, if applicable
  • Copy of marriage certificate, if applicable
  • Copies of any out-of-state teaching certifications
  • Type of PE teaching certificate you are applying for

If you are a current service member or spouse of a current service member, you should submit a copy of your military orders and station of duty in place of the DD-214 form.



Step 4. Upgrade Your Maryland PE Teaching Certificate

After you have held a Professional Eligibility Certificate and gained employment as a PE teacher at a school in Maryland, you will have the option of obtaining Standard Professional Certificate (SPC) I, also valid for five years. When it comes time to renew your SPC I you will have the option to upgrade this certification to a Standard Professional Certificate II, provided you are still employed as a PE teacher in a Maryland school and submit:

  • Proof of at least three years of satisfactory work performance
  • Proof that you have completed six semester credits of continuing professional education
  • A professional development plan that details your PE teaching accomplishments and future goals

If you have chosen to complete an alternate educator preparation program, you will be able to apply for an SPC I while you are employed in a Maryland school with a Resident Teacher Certificate, once your alternate preparation program has been completed.

Acceptable credit to renew or upgrade your PE teaching certification includes:

  • Subjects that pertain to the field of physical education
  • Any subject that is approved by the Department of Education
  • College and university-level courses

National Board Certification of conferred by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Gaining PE Certification by the NBPTS signifies that you are an exceptional teacher who has effective methods of improving your students’ knowledge and skills in the field of physical education. To earn NBPTS Certification you will need to collect evidence of that you are an effective teacher over the course of a year and submit this for review to the NBPTS.

Phys Ed Teacher Salary in Maryland

In March of 2014, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation reported that the median Maryland PE teacher salary was $46,871. The average was 5.6% higher at $49,672. The difference between entry-level and experienced-level salaries was 52% at $28,647 and $60,185 respectively.

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Below is a look at how the median salary among PE teachers in Maryland has increase over the past few years:

Current: $46,871
2013: $46,716
2012: $45,824
2011: $44,932
2010: $44,235
It’s also important to point out that salary is typically affected by location. Here, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has provided salary by region:

Baltimore City

Median: $42,511
Entry: $32,042
Average: $45,708
Experienced: $52,542
Baltimore County

Median: $40,796
Entry: $29,445
Average: $44,466
Experienced: $51,976
Western Maryland WIA

(Alleghany, Garrett and Washington Counties)

Median: $49,247
Entry: $26,493
Average: $48,904
Experienced: $60,110
More PE teacher salaries across Maryland can be seen in the table below:

Area name
Annual median wage
Baltimore-Towson MD
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division

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