Career outlook for teacher - secondary school - physical education

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Five year job forecast


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You’d inspire and motivate young people to study and learn about sport, fitness and health. You’d help them get the knowledge, skills and attributes they’ll need for a successful and positive life when they leave school.

You would teach young people from 11 to 18 years old, in state and independent schools. You might also work in a college or learning centre.

You would specialise in physical education (PE). You’d teach students of different ages and abilities and prepare young people to take the National Qualifications and Highers in this subject.

There’s national guidance for Curriculum for Excellence and National Qualifications, which you would use when planning your teaching.

As a PE teacher you’d have a key role in encouraging pupils to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing, and helping them understand why and how to keep themselves fit and healthy.

You’d teach different sports and physical activities and might coach school teams for competitions. You’d make sure that the pupils exercise safely and understand how the human body works.

You would:

  • Prepare lessons and teaching materials
  • Assess students’ progress and mark their work
  • Set homework
  • Manage behaviour in the classroom, the sports field and gym hall
  • Discuss students' progress with parents and carers
  • Organise sports events and matches with other schools and colleges

You’d encourage the students to take pride in their achievements inside and outside school. You’d support them to build good relationships with other students and teachers and play a positive part in the life of the school and the local community.

Sometimes you will need to deal with challenging behaviour. It may be difficult to get some teenagers to take part in activities so you’d need to be imaginative and enthusiastic to keep them interested.

You’d need to attend meetings and training courses. You’d work closely with colleagues to plan the school’s timetables, and work with other professionals, such as education psychologists and social workers.

Working conditions


Full-time teaching is for 39 weeks a year, from around 9am to 3.30pm. You'll organise activities after school several times a week, and possibly on Saturday mornings. Outside teaching hours, you’ll plan lessons, mark work, attend meetings and training, and take part in school activities. You may be able to work part-time. You could also do supply teaching, working in different schools to cover absences.


You would work between a classroom and a gym or outdoors on playing fields, sometimes in bad weather.


You may need a driving licence for some jobs so you can transport teams to and from events. A separate driving test is required to drive minibuses.

UK employment status





Self employed


People behind the job

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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Ethical
  • Coaching
  • Motivating others
  • Mentoring
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Supporting
  • Social conscience
  • Respecting
  • Empathising

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


You'll need:

  • a degree in a sports subject (SCQF level 9/10) plus a PGDE - Professional Graduate Diploma in Education - in Physical Education (SCQF level 11)
  • or an MA with Honours in Physical Education with Qualified Teaching Status (SCQF level 10)
  • or a BSc with Honours in Professional Education (Secondary), Sports Studies and Physical Education.

Entry to a sports degree with teacher training can be very competitive. You'll need four Highers, including English, at B or above. Some universities may ask for Highers at AAAB in one sitting.  

To enter a PGDE requires a sports related degree, Higher English and National 5 maths. Your degree should include at least 80 SCQF credit points in a sports-related subject.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Physical education

Most courses require Higher English (SCQF level 6) and National 5 maths (SCQF level 5).

You will also need

To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland

You'll need to show competency for traditional sports plus games, dance, gymnastics and swimming. Most universities look for applicants with experience coaching or mentoring children in a sports or outdoor activity role.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show the ability to work with children or young people, communication skills and sports skills, such as a Sports Leaders UK Award.