Phys Ed Teacher Salary

PE teachers provide learning experiences designed to meet the developmental needs of students through standards-based physical and health education programs that help kids develop positive attitudes about physical fitness, while at the same time giving them a chance to practice teamwork and positive social skills.

Whether they’re teaching at the elementary level, middle grades, or in high schools, or leading adaptive phys ed programs for children with disabilities, PE teachers serve as part educator part coach, teaching and promoting everything from physical fitness, and interpersonal skills, to hygiene and nutrition.

It’s an exciting and personally fulfilling career that comes with plenty of professional opportunities and respectable salaries to match.

Salaries for Physical Education Teachers

Factors Affecting Physical Education Teacher Salaries

A Push to Increase Enrollment in Physical Education Teacher Preparation Programs

Salaries for Physical Education Teachers

Similar to their general education peers, physical education teachers are paid using a fixed salary schedule implemented by their school district or state educational agency.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salary range (50th-90th percentile) for teachers, according to grade level:

  • Elementary school teachers: $59,670 – $97,900
  • Middle school teachers: $59,660 – $96,280
  • High school teachers: $61,660 – $99,660
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The BLS also highlighted the top-paying states in the nation (according to annual, mean salary) for teachers, as of May 2019:

  • Elementary school teachers:
    • New York: $82,830
    • California: $82,560
    • Massachusetts: $82,450
    • Washington D.C.: $79,390
    • Connecticut: $78,070
  • Middle school teachers:
    • New York: $87,050
    • Alaska: $80,730
    • Massachusetts: $80,520
    • California: $80,160
    • Connecticut: $79,510
  • High school teachers:
    • New York: $87,240
    • California: $85,080
    • Massachusetts: $81,070
    • Connecticut: $78,540
    • New Jersey: $78,090

Factors Affecting Physical Education Teacher Salaries

A number of factors influence salaries for physical education teachers:

Graduate Degree

While a bachelor’s degree within an approved teacher preparatory program is the minimum educational requirement to become a physical education teacher, earning an advanced level of education is a great way to earn a bigger paycheck.

For example, education teachers with a bachelor’s degree and five years’ experience in the Dodge City Public Schools in Dodge City, Kansas earn a salary of $45,766. However, teachers with higher levels of education earn significantly more:

  • BS+15: $47,800
  • BS+30: $49,833
  • MS: $53,442
  • MS+15: $54,993
  • MS+30: $56,543
  • EdSpec: $58,093
  • PhD/EdD: $59,618

Physical education teachers in the North Carolina Public schools are also rewarded for achieving higher levels of education. For example, a teacher with a bachelor’s teacher and three years of experience earns an annual salary of $38,000, while a teacher with a master’s degree and the same number of years of experience earns $41,800.


As expected, experience plays a large role in how much you’ll earn as a physical education teacher. Most school districts have salary schedules that include yearly pay increments to reward teachers for their hard work.

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For example, teachers with the Independence School District in Independence, Missouri, earn $40,434 with three years of experience and a bachelor’s degree. Their salary then increases as follows:

  • 4 years’ experience: $40,901
  • 5 years’ experience: $41,543
  • 6 years’ experience: $42,960
  • 7 years’ experience: $44,377
  • 8 years’ experience: $45,794
  • 9 years’ experience: $47,212
  • 10 years’ experience: $48,629

Athletic Supplements

Many physical education teachers also enjoy serving as coaches in the district in which they teach. A coaching position is a great way to earn supplemental income, as most school districts pay a stipend to PE teachers who serve as coaches.

For example, coaches with the Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa, FL) earn an income supplement that ranges from $868 as an assistant flag football coach to $3,736 for a head football coach. Even coaches of intramural sports within the school district earn a supplement of $400 for their work.

Similarly, physical education teachers with the Des Moines Public Schools also earn extra duty pay for serving as a coach in any number of sports. For example, a wrestling coach earns a salary supplement of $7,418, an assistant track coach earns a salary supplement of $4,048, and a cross country head coach earns an additional $5,036.

Where Are the Nation’s Physical Education Teachers? A Push to Increase Enrollment in Physical Education Teacher Preparation Programs

If there’s one area of education that most people wouldn’t imagine a shortage of qualified teachers, it would be physical education. But they’d be wrong.

The demand for physical education teachers continues to trump supply. For both aspiring and practicing physical education teachers, this translates into exceptional professional opportunities, both now and well into the future.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 22 states and Washington D.C. all reported shortages of health and physical fitness teachers as of the 2020-21 school year:

  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

While some states reported shortages in specific counties or grade levels, many states, such as Maine, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina reported shortages statewide and in all grade levels.

You can learn more about your state’s physical education teacher needs by using the U.S. Department of Education’s searchable database of teacher shortage areas.

These shortages are a result of simply not enough physical education teachers coming through the teacher pipeline.

According to a 2018 joint Position Statement between SHAPE America and the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education, there are a number of recruitment and admission challenges for physical education and health education teacher education (PETE/HETE) programs throughout the U.S.

They report that many programs are struggling to recruit students, which then has a ripple effect when it comes to ensuring adequate numbers of physical educations in K-12 learning. While the demand for physical education and health teachers is strong and plenty of jobs are available, the position statement reveals that there are simply not enough physical education teachers to meet the demand.

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According to the SHAPE America and NAKHE Joint Task Force, 42% of all states have experienced a decrease in PETE/HETE programs over the past decade, and 50% predict a continued decline over the next five years.

The West and Midwest regions of the U.S. are expected to experience the largest drop in programs, largely due to program reductions and fewer applicants. Across the U.S., there has been a 36% decline in enrollment in physical education teacher preparation programs between 2008 and 2014.

The position statement revealed that the nation’s three largest states: New York, Florida, and California all reported a growing number of courses in physical education are being taught by teachers not certified in physical education – violating many states’ requirements for physical education. A 2016 survey of 200 California schools reported that 12% of the districts reported shortages of physical education teachers.

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