How to Become a Physical Education Teacher in South Carolina

The path towards becoming a PE teacher in South Carolina proceeds through the following steps:

Earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in a Field Related to Health and Fitness
Fulfill the Physical Education Student Teaching Requirement
Take the Qualifying PE Teacher Exams
Apply to Become a South Carolina Licensed Physical Education Teacher
Renewing the Professional Physical Education Certificate

In South Carolina the State Board of Education maintains the standards for physical education teacher certification, while the Office of Educator Certification is responsible for processing applications. The South Carolina Department of Education oversees both of these agencies.

To become a PE teacher in South Carolina, you will need to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree while being sure to take the subject area competency and pedagogical courses required to teach PE.



Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in a Field Related to Health and Fitness

The path to becoming a PE teacher starts with the appropriate college degree. State-approved teacher programs can be found in educational institutions that meet ONE of the following qualifications:

  • Recognized by a regional accreditation association
  • Are approved by the South Carolina State Board of Education
  • Are approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

Becoming certified to teach PE, referred to as Health Education in South Carolina, requires an academic program that includes at least 3-4 credits in Anatomy and Physiology, plus 2-3 credits each in the following curriculum:

    • Required:
      • School Health Program
      • First aid and emergency preparedness


  • At least three of the following:
    • Communicable and chronic diseases
    • Mental health
    • Legal and illegal drug effects, abuse
    • Nutrition and foods
    • Environmental health
    • Public health and community practices
    • Decisions and values in health education
    • Modern health complications
    • Sex education and family living
    • Consumer health

As will be noted, obtaining a master’s degree will qualify you to advance to a higher tier PE teacher certification. Having a master’s degree is also required if you intend to advance your career to fill jobs in administration such as Principal, District Superintendent, or Guidance Counselor. Some educational institutions in South Carolina offer a master’s degree in pedagogy and PE for candidates who have already completed an undergraduate degree in any subject.



Step 2: Fulfill the Physical Education Student Teaching Requirement

Each PE teacher academic program has its own student teaching system, but all will involve an increasing immersion in real-world physical education environments.

You will need to complete your PE student teaching segment towards the end of your teacher preparation program just before you graduate. The student teaching segment will be real-life practice for you to combine what you have learned in the fields of educational pedagogy and physical education.

Student teaching includes:

  • Initial PE teacher observation and assistance
  • Participation in PE activities and providing instruction
  • After-class debriefing review and pedagogical analysis
  • Leading the PE class under supervision with later feedback

To become a physical education student teacher, you will need to submit an application form to the Office of Educator Services and receive a student teacher license.

Experienced candidates, especially those from out-of-state, with at least three years physical education teaching experience may use existing experience to fulfill the student teaching requirement.

Sponsored Content


Step 3: Take the Qualifying PE Teacher Exams

Demonstrating knowledge on required exams is among the most important requirement for PE teacher jobs in South Carolina.

There are two required exams administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) – one that focuses on general knowledge, and one that will evaluate you on your specific knowledge in the field of physical education:

  • Praxis I Exams – General Professional Knowledge
  • Praxis II Exam – Physical Education: Content and Design

You will need to submit the scores from these exams along with your application for initial certification. These exams are The Praxis I Exams are a general evaluation of your knowledge and divided into the following three tests with the accompanying minimum scores for passing:

Core Academic Skills for Educators in…

The Praxis II Exam is specific to PE teachers only. The Physical Education: Content and Design exam requires a passing score of 169 and includes the following components:

  • Two-hour time limit
  • 90 multiple-choice questions – 75% of total
  • Two constructed response questions – 25% of total
  • Five content categories and corresponding percentage of the exam:


      • Student growth and development plus content knowledge – 23%
        • basic sciences, motor skills, and movement activities
        • biomechanics and kinesiology
        • body and spatial awareness
        • anatomy and physiology
        • physiology of exercise
        • monitoring of individual performance


      • Instruction, planning, and student assessment – 19%
        • skillful movement
        • motor skill activities
        • feedback to enhance development
        • current issues for choosing the appropriate PE activities


      • Motivation, communication, and management – 19%
        • creating and managing a classroom environment in the PE setting
        • organization and allocation of resources
        • use of behavior management plans


      • Collaboration, technology, and reflection – 14%
        • integration of knowledge and skills from many subjects in the PE field
        • promotion of PE activities in the school and community at large


    • Instructional design (constructed response section) – 25%
      • skill instruction
      • fitness instruction

Out-of-state candidates researching how to become a PE teacher in South Carolina will need to submit the following testing information for certification:

  • Score of their home state’s general pedagogy exam
  • Score of their home state’s specific teaching area exam
  • Proof of a current state teaching certification and at least 27 months of experience



Step 4: Apply to Become a South Carolina Licensed Physical Education Teacher

Along with an application for licensure, you will need to submit the following to the Office of Educator Certification:

  • Recommendation Form signed by the dean or an equivalent from your educational institution
  • Official college transcripts
  • Scores from your Praxis I and II exams

When applying for a teaching license, an Initial Certificate will be appropriate for most applicants. However there are also certification options for candidates who are non-traditional students or who earned their degree before realizing they wanted to become a teacher. The different types of certification are explained below. Note that when filling out the application for licensure, Initial and Professional Certificates fall under the Academic License category.

Initial Certification is valid for three years. It is eligible for annual renewal after this period provided the PE teacher’s employing school district requests a renewal.

Professional Certificate is valid for five years. PE teachers usually obtain this certification after they have held an initial certification. However there are several ways a teacher may earn this certificate as their first, bypassing an Initial Certificate:

  • Meet the requirements for an Initial Certificate and also complete:


    • Induction program
    • Testing requirements
    • Formal evaluation that is approved by the Board of Education. This will be a review of your performance while holding an Initial Certificate.


  • Meet the reciprocity requirements as defined in the Interstate Agreement on Qualifications of Educational Personnel. Your state will have needed to sign a teaching reciprocity agreement with South Carolina. This allows licensed PE teachers from other states to apply directly for a Professional Certificate without having to first obtain an Initial Certificate.

There are progressive levels of the Professional Certificate that increase with a PE teacher’s level of education according to the following criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Bachelor’s degree plus 18 credits
  • Master’s degree
  • Master’s degree plus 30 credits
  • Doctorate

Alternate Route Certificate is initially valid for one year. This certification is for PE teachers who qualify under the PACE Program of Alternative Certification for Educators. As long as the PACE program requirements are being met each year, the PE teacher can renew this certification annually for three years. At this point the PACE program will have been completed and the PE teacher will be eligible to apply for a Professional Certificate.

Sponsored Content

If you have not completed any teaching pedagogy courses but you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in a PE-related field such as Physical Education or Exercise Science, the PACE program is an alternate route for you to become a teacher that ultimately results in a Professional Certificate. This is basically an on-the-job teacher training program that starts out with intensive pedagogical theory and PE teacher shadowing, followed by two subsequent years of progressively increasing involvement in the classroom.



Step 5: Renewing the Professional Physical Education Certificate

All certifications lead to the Professional Certificate. Once obtained it is valid for five years. Renewing the Professional Certificate requires completing at least 120 renewal credits in a five-year period. These credits can be earned:

  • Through professional development activities that are directly related to a PE teacher’s growth and development
  • Through activities that are related to PE and support the goals of the employing school
  • By supporting student development

If you do not have a master’s degree, you will need to obtain at least 60 of these credits from a graduate program.

Phys Ed Teacher Salary in South Carolina

Back to Top