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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Journal of the American Medical Association report that about one-third of American adults are considered obese. Obesity carries with it an increased risk for health problems including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and many other illnesses.

The CDC also reports that an estimated $147 billion dollars was spent on obesity-related health care. Having an excellent health care system is important to addressing this issue, but helping people understand how to take care of their bodies to potentially prevent obesity-related disease may be even more important. Enrolling in physical and health education degree programs may give you a proper foundation to educate people on how to change their eating and exercise habits to establish a healthier lifestyle.

P.E. and health instructors may be responsible for:

  • Evaluating students according to individualized physical education plans
  • Planning activities to help students become healthier and physically fit
  • Teaching students how to eat and exercise in order to develop healthy habits
  • Maintaining any fitness equipment on school property

For many schools, the minimum requirement to teach physical and health education is a bachelor's degree plus a license. This license can be earned after completing an accredited degree program as well as a certain number of hours of supervised student teaching.

Coursework in Physical and Health Education Degree Programs

Physical and health education programs can focus on helping students understand the connection between an active lifestyle and a healthy one. Students can study the human body and its different systems, and about exercise and proper nutrition.

Some examples of courses can include:

  • Sports medicine: Students can develop an understanding of the different injuries common to sports and the proper treatment and rehabilitation programs for them.
  • Sports psychology: This course focuses on how athletes can benefit from having someone to speak to who understands their behaviors.
  • First aid and CPR: This course teaches students the proper ways to administer first aid and CPR to people who need it.

There are other courses that individuals can take during their degree program. Prospective students should speak to a counselor or academic adviser to learn about all the potential courses available in this program.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Physical and Health Education Programs

Job outlooks and salaries vary among physical and health education specialties. Some of the different career options may include:

  • Kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers: K-12 educators are estimated to see a 12 percent increase nationally in job openings from 2012 through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to earning a bachelor's degree, a teaching license is required to work in a public school.
  • Athletic trainer: These professionals help people with the prevention and treatment of injuries to muscles and bones. They also develop safe exercise programs for people who want to exercise and get in shape. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement needed to apply for positions in this field, but some employers may ask a candidate to have earned a master's degree. A license is also required to work in this profession, which can be earned through the Board of Certification, Inc. BLS numbers place median annual income for athletic trainers at $42,790 in 2013. According to the BLS, the job outlook for athletic trainers is expected to grow by 21 percent from 2012 through 2022.
  • Physical therapist: People interested in pursuing this career are required to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Students should apply to enter a DPT program through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service after earning a bachelor's degree. The BLS reports that the national mean annual wage for this position was $81,030 in May 2013, with job growth at 36 percent.

"Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012,http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
"25-2012 Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012,http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252012.htm
"Athletic Trainers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers-and-exercise-physiologists.htm#tab-1
"29-9091 Athletic Trainers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013,http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes299091.htm
"Physical Therapists," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012,http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm#tab-1"29-1123 Physical Therapists,"U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/OES/current/oes291123.htm
"Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer," 2014,http://www.bocatc.org/
"Physical Therapy Centralized Application Serive (PTCAS)," Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service, 2014, http://www.ptcas.org/home.aspx
"Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012," Journal of the American Medical Association, February 26, 2014, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1832542
"Obesity and Overweight for Professionals: Data and Statistics: Adult Obesity - DNPAO," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 28, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

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