How to Become a Physical Education Teacher in North Carolina

Certified PE teachers train K-12 students in these areas. Follow these steps to become a PE teacher in North Carolina:

Complete a Bachelor’s Degree and a PE Teacher Preparation Program
Take the Appropriate Tests
Apply for Your North Carolina PE Teacher’s License
Meet the Requirements to Renew Your North Carolina PE Teacher’s License

The state of North Carolina implemented reforms for its K-12 curricula in 2008. Known as the Accountability and Curriculum Reform Effort (ACRE), this initiative addressed student assessments, learning standards, and school accountability simultaneously.

The North Carolina State Board of Education has set Essential Standards for Physical Education (PE) for each grade level. These include detailed standards for the following areas:

  • Health-Related Fitness
  • Motor Skills
  • Movement Concepts
  • Personal/Social Responsibility



Step 1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree and a PE Teacher Preparation Program

You can take several routes to obtain PE teacher jobs in North Carolina. The standard option is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in teaching PE from an approved program. You can also become certified to teach PE through an alternate route if you have a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree.

Standard Professional 1 License

You must complete an approved PE teacher education program and meet the federal requirements to be designated “highly qualified” to obtain a Standard Professional 1 License.

As of 2014, North Carolina has five schools approved for PE teacher education programs. You will need to download the Approved Teacher Education Programs Grid for the current year to identify which schools are approved for PE teaching.

You can obtain the following types of bachelor’s degree that will enable you to teach PE:

  • Physical Education
  • Physical Education Teacher Program
  • Physical Education Teaching
  • Physical Education with Certification in K-12
  • Physical Education with an Option of Teaching

To obtain entrance into these teacher education programs, you must meet the following requirements:

  • A cumulative GPA of at least 2.5
  • Satisfactory Praxis I scores

You must complete the following steps as part of your degree:

  • Perform student teaching for at least 10 weeks
  • A technology product of learning
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5

Another option to meet the requirements for this license is to get a master’s degree in teaching PE. Approved state schools offer the following options:

  • MaEd: Master’s in Education in Physical Education
  • MS:

Standard Professional 2 License

If you have been teaching for three years, you can upgrade your Standard Professional 1 License to a Standard Professional 2 License provided that you have a PE teaching degree from an approved school and meet the following requirements:

  • A recommendation from your school system
  • Completion of any professional development activities that your school requires
  • Satisfactorily completion of the North Carolina testing requirements for PE


  • Receive a satisfactory evaluation in your most recent year of employment in North Carolina


  • Have LEA (Local Education Agency) verification that your school system will offer you re-employment for the following year. (You will not have to accept this offer.)

Lateral Entry License

If you have not completed an approved teacher PE program, but you have at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning, you may be able to obtain a Lateral Entry License to teach PE in North Carolina. Your school will have to initiate the process to get this license.

You will have to meet one of the criteria from two lists. The first is:

  • A degree in PE education
  • 24 semester hours in PE education
  • Passing score on the appropriate license exams

The second list includes the following:

  • 2.5 GPA
  • Five years of experience considered relevant by your local educational agency
  • One of the following:
    • Passing cores on the Praxis I CORE exam
    • Total SAT score of 100
    • Total ACT score of 24

AND have a 3.0 GPA in one of the following:

  • All of your senior year
  • Your major
  • A minimum of 15 semester hours completed within the last 5 years after your bachelor’s degree
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Step 2: Take the Appropriate Tests

Praxis II Exam – You will need to take the Praxis II test in PE to qualify for a Standard Professional 2 License. In addition, taking this exam is one of the ways to qualify for a Lateral Entry License.

This exam includes two subject areas, and the North Carolina Board of Education requires specific scores to qualify for a license. They look at two scores: the minimum score and the validation score. Their score model allows you to score below the validation score on one of the two areas. If this is the case for you, you will then need to score higher on the other area to meet the test requirement. This information is provided below:

Minimum Score
Content Knowledge

You will need to receive a total validation score of 324 to pass the exam and get your license. If you do not meet the score, you can keep taking the test until you do.

Pearson Test – The Pearson Test for North Carolina: Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum will be required for two licenses starting on October 1, 2014:

  • The Standard Professional 2 License
  • The Lateral Entry License (if you are using test scores as a way to qualify)

If you are pursuing a Lateral Entry License, you will have to take the required exams within three years of getting this license to be able to get a Standard Professional 2 License.



Step 3. Apply for Your North Carolina PE Teacher’s License

To obtain a Standard Professional License, you should start the process at the North Carolina Public Schools website page on steps to licensure. If you are applying for a Lateral Entry License, you apply at a different site.

Obtaining your Lateral Entry License is only the start of your process of teaching PE. You will have to become affiliated with either one of the schools approved to teach PE or else with one of the Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC). These centers are located in the following cities:

  • Charlotte/Cabarrus
  • Catawba
  • Elm City
  • Fayetteville

Once you are affiliated with one of these institutions, they will develop an individual plan of study for you. You will have to take at least 6 semester hours of courses from the plan a year until you have completed your plan of study. You have three years to complete your coursework. Then, you can upgrade your license to a Standard Professional 2 License after you have passed the appropriate exams.



Step 4. Meet the Requirements to Renew Your North Carolina PE Teacher’s License

You will have to renew your Standard Professional 2 License every five years to make sure you stay up to date with the latest teaching methods and technology. You must renew between April 15 and June 30th of the year that your license expires.

The North Carolina General Assembly reduced the number of credits needed to renew in 2011. You currently need to take the following credits to renew your license:

  • 1 in literacy
  • 1 in PE
  • 5.5 general credits that are determined by your local education agency

You can use the following types of activities to meet your renewal credit:

  • College or university courses
  • Local in-service courses or workshops
  • Classes and workshops approved by your local education agency

Phys Ed Teacher Salary in North Carolina

Data released by the Labor & Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, otherwise known as LEAD, finds that there is an overall average North Carolina PE teacher salary of $59,440. The average salary among entry-level teachers is noted to be roughly 31% less at $41,060. The statewide median is $56,370. At the experienced level, PE teachers average $68,360, which is 40% more than entry-level, 13% more than the statewide average, and 17.5% more than the median.

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Since location is often a factor which influences income, the Labor & Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce also broke down PE teacher salaries by city, as shown here:

Charlotte/Gastonia/Rock Hill

Entry: $40,200
Average: $55,880
Median: $54,110
Experienced: $63,720
Durham/Chapel Hill

Entry: $44,720
Average: $67,180
Median: $66,760
Experienced: $78,420

Entry: $47,500
Average: $65,610
Median: $60,150
Experienced: $74,660
Greensboro/High Point

Entry: $44,460
Average: $64,180
Median: $60,590
Experienced: $74,040

Entry: $46,820
Average: $65,640
Median: $58,470
Experienced: $75,060

Entry: $43,900
Average: $53,350
Median: $53,420
Experienced: $58,080
The table below shows PE teacher salaries across North Carolina:

Area name
Annual median wage
Asheville NC
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC
Durham-Chapel Hill NC
Greensboro-High Point NC
Greenville NC
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton NC
Raleigh-Cary NC
Estimate Not Released
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC
Winston-Salem NC
Northeastern North Carolina nonmetropolitan area
Other North Carolina nonmetropolitan area
Western Central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
Western North Carolina nonmetropolitan area

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