How to Become a Physical Education Teacher in Pennsylvania

To learn how to become a physical education (PE) teacher in Pennsylvania, you must be prepared to complete a specific number of steps, which include:

Earn your Bachelor’s Degree in a Field Related to Physical Education
Complete a Pennsylvania Approved Certification Program
Pass the Certification Examinations for Physical Education Teachers
Apply for a Certificate
Meet Continuing Education Requirements
Earn your Permanent (Level II) Certificate

The Pennsylvania Department of Education, which is governed by Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education, requires that every student in a primary, intermediate, middle school and senior high school program receive planned instruction that is aligned with the health and physical education standards of the Commonwealth.

School districts are required to assess physical education and have a local assessment system in place, as the Department of Education has no statewide assessment program.



Step 1. Earn your Bachelor’s Degree

There are two paths to a physical education teacher certification in Pennsylvania, both of which begin by earning a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university:

  • You may choose to earn your bachelor’s degree from a Pennsylvania approved teacher preparation program that includes all necessary components for certification; OR
  • You can choose to complete a bachelor’s degree program in a field related to health and fitness from a regionally accredited college or university and then complete a Pennsylvania-approved teacher preparation program afterwards for the required pedagogy courses and student teaching component.


Physical education Bachelor of Science programs may go by a number of program titles, including:

  • Exercise and Sport Science
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Physical Education and Sport
  • Physical and Health Education Teacher Education
  • Kinesiology
  • Athletic and Physical Education

However, bachelor’s programs in general health and fitness are also acceptable for meeting undergraduate requirements and subject-area competency requirements. These programs may include:

  • Exercise Science
  • Health Sciences
  • Nutrition Science
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Step 2: Complete a Pennsylvania Approved Certification Program

Teacher Preparation Program

If you have not already completed a bachelor’s degree program in an area related to physical education, you will likely choose to complete a teacher preparation program that has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Pennsylvania has many institutions that are approved by the Department of Education as physical education teacher preparation programs.

The program approval process for physical education teacher preparation programs in Pennsylvania is based on general and subject-specific guidelines (instead of credit guidelines) that are set by the Department of Education. These guidelines include the following:

  • Program administration in health and physical education (e.g., personnel and staffing, public relations, facilities planning, budgeting, etc.)
  • Pedagogical constructs and curricular components
  • Measurement fundamentals, formal and informal assessment strategies, and their applications in health and physical education
  • Health promotion and fitness management
  • Foundation of health and physical education (historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological and developmental factors)
  • Contemporary topics in physical education
  • Contemporary topics in health education
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Adaptive physical education (e.g., chronic health problems, special education classifications, postural deviations, etc.)

All approved teacher preparation programs include a student teaching component (early field experience), which is completed during the last semester. Student teaching is considered the culminating activity for all education students, with students spending an entire semester in the field in two school districts and under the supervision of mentor teachers and a university supervisor. During the student teaching semester, you will likely be required to meet with other student teachers for professional development seminars.

Upon completion of the degree program, students are then recommended for certification.

To be recommended for certification, you must have successfully completed all components of the bachelor’s program, with a minimum GPA of 2.8.

Note: Many PA programs require students to be formally admitted into the teacher certification program after the completion of 60 credits, after passing Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) modules, and maintaining an overall 3.0 GPA. Additional requirements of the application process may include letters of recommendation and the completion of a Careers Goal Statement.

Teacher Intern Certification

You may also qualify for certification as a Pennsylvania teacher if you possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a field related to physical education. The Intern Certification Program is a post-baccalaureate program, so any credits earned in this program count toward the Instructional II certificate requirements of the completion of a master’s degree (see Step 5).

There are currently many approved colleges and universities that participate in the Intern Certification Program.

In addition to possessing a bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to physical education you must possess the following to qualify for the Intern Certification Program:

  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 from your baccalaureate degree (or a 2.8 GPA if you have taken and passed the PPST I Series: Reading, Writing, and Math
  • Have at least 6 credits of college-level mathematics and 6 credits of college-level English literature and composition
  • Pass all required certification examinations (See Step 2)

Note: You may work as a Pennsylvania teacher during the time you are enrolled in a teacher intern program. The Teacher Intern certificate is only issued for one period of 3 years, during which time you must be employed in a Pennsylvania school, and you must maintain continuous enrollment in the approved teacher intern program.

Any credits earned in an Intern Certification Program count toward the Instructional II certificate requirements of the completion of a master’s degree.



Step 3: Pass the Certification Examinations for Physical Education Teachers

Upon graduating from a Pennsylvania-approved educational program, you must take and pass two examinations to work as a physical education teacher in Pennsylvania:

  • Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA), which is part of the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT). The PAPA consists of reading, writing, and mathematics tests. You must achieve a score of 220 or higher on all three modules to pass the test.

The PAPA is organized as follows:

  • Reading: 36 selected-response items (45 minutes)
  • Mathematics: 36 selected-response items (75 minutes)
  • Writing: 36 selected-response items, 2 sentence correction assignments, and 1 extended response assignment (75 minutes)

The fee for taking the PAPA is $110. You can register and pay for the exam here. You can find an exam location (taken through Pearson testing centers) here. Examinations are made by appointment on a year-round basis.

You can prepare to take the PAPA by visiting the PECT website and viewing a host of materials, including test-taking strategies, sample selected-response and sample sentence correction assignments, sample extended construction-response assignments, full-length practice tests, videos and tutorials.

The fee to take the Praxis II is $115 and you can register online.

You may take the Praxis exam one of two ways:

  • Computer-delivered tests: Computer-delivered tests are usually given year-round, by appointment. You can view upcoming test dates and test center locations here. You can register to take a computer-delivered Health and Physical Education: Content Knowledge test here.
  • Paper-delivered tests: Paper-delivered test are offered on fixed dates. You can view upcoming test dates and test center locations here. You can register to take a paper-delivered Health and Physical Education: Content Knowledge test here.

You can prepare to take the Praxis II by studying the available online preparation materials for the Health and Physical Education: Content Knowledge exam. You can also purchase the Physical Education and Health Study Guide here.



Step 4: Apply for a Certificate

The Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality, Division of Certification Services is responsible for issuing teaching certificates in Pennsylvania. A certificate indicates that you have met the degree, coursework, assessment, and experience requirements to become a physical education teacher in Pennsylvania. All physical education teachers are issued a certificate in classroom teaching (Instructional Level I certificate).

You must apply for the In State PA Certificate Application I using the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS). The cost of Pennsylvania certification is $125. You may also check on the status of your application for certification through TIMS or by calling the TIMS call center at 717-PA-TEACH.

Provided you have completed your teaching program through a Pennsylvania approved teacher preparation program, you do not need to send in copies of your transcripts to receive your certification. All other applicants, however, must send their official transcripts to:

Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17126

You can obtain additional information on the certification process by contacting the Division of Certification Services at 717-728-3224 (717-PA-TEACH).

Certificates are sent to educators, although a certificate can be printed through the TIMS system. Paper certificates are typically not needed, though, as all Pennsylvania employers have access to the TIMS system.



Step 5: Meet Continuing Education Requirements

Pennsylvania Act 48 requires all teachers holding Pennsylvania teaching certificates to complete specific continuing education requirements every 5 years in order to maintain their certification. All continuing education is tracked through the Online Act 48 Professional Education Record Management System. You can view your continuing education process, course offerings, and approved providers through this system.

All educators, including physical education teachers, must complete at least ONE of the following to remain compliant with Act 48:

  • Earn at least 6 credits of collegiate study or 6 credits of PDE-approved continuing professional education courses; OR
  • Earn 180 hours of continuing professional education program, activities, and/or learning experiences; OR
  • Any combination of the above

The 5-year period begins on the date of issuance of your initial Instructional I certificate.

Some of the physical education and health-specific continuing education offerings include:

  • Health, Wellness and Fitness
  • Healthy Foods for Healthy Living
  • Healthy Water, Healthy People
  • Sport History: An Interdisciplinary Approach
  • Sport: A Culture History Case Study
  • Physical Education K-12 Program Evaluation and Curriculum Development Process



Step 6. Earn your Permanent (Level II) Certificate

Your initial certificate (Level I) must be converted to a Level II certificate after a maximum of 6 service years in Pennsylvania or it will become invalid. To qualify for a Level II certificate, you must provide proof that you have completed at least 24 semester hours at the post-baccalaureate level. If you have been teaching in Pennsylvania for 3 to 6 years and have earned 24 post-baccalaureate credits, you can apply for a Level II certificate, provided you meet the following requirements:

  • Six credits must be in your area of certification or must be designed to improve your professional practice
  • You must have at least 3 years of satisfactory service on a Level I certificate, as verified by the employing school entity
  • You must have completed a PDE induction program (All newly employed educators in Pennsylvania participate in one through their hiring entity.), as verified by the employing school entity

More information on the Level II certificate can be found here.

Pennsylvania state standards for its physical education programs are found in the Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, which were last revised in 2003.

Phys Ed Teacher Salary in Pennsylvania

Salary statistics recorded by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry indicate that the average phys ed teacher salary in Pennsylvania is $65,970. The beginning-level average salary is 33% less at $44,120. However, it’s important to mention that the average among experienced-level salaries is $76,900, which is 43% higher than beginning-level average and 14% higher than the statewide average.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry also focused on local salary statistics among phys ed teachers, as we can see here:

Philadelphia County

Entry: $43,560
Average: $73,030
Experienced: $87,760
Allegheny County


Entry: $43,530
Average: $72,970
Experienced: $87,690
Erie County

Entry: $47,950
Average: $69,540
Experienced: $80,340
Berks County


Entry: $42,480
Average: $66,850
Experienced: $79,030
Chester County


Entry: $50,990
Average: $57,230
Experienced: $60,350
Delaware County


Entry: $37,030
Average: $56,030
Experienced: $65,540
The salary table below shows phys ed teacher salaries in Pennsylvania as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Annual median wage
Erie PA
Newark-Union NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
Estimate Not Released
Philadelphia PA Metropolitan Division
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington PA-NJ-DE-MD
Pittsburgh PA
Far Western Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
West Central Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released

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