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Health & Physical Education Major

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Health & Physical Education

48,090 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
8,423 Master's Degrees Annually
#9 in Popularity
$49,280 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Health & Physical Education Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many health and physical education graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 48,130
Master’s Degree 8,423
Associate’s Degree 5,250
Basic Certificate 1,426
Undergraduate Certificate 601
Doctor’s Degree 300
Graduate Certificate 141

What Health & Physical Education Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to phys ed were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Phys Ed Majors

Phys Ed majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Skills for Phys Ed Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to phys ed:

  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Abilities for Phys Ed Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a phys ed student include the following:

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

What Can You Do With a Health & Physical Education Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with phys ed:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Athletes and Sports Competitors 7.6% $50,650
Athletic Trainers 22.7% $47,510
Coaches and Scouts 12.9% $33,780
Exercise Physiologists 13.2% $49,270
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors 10.0% $39,820
Recreation and Fitness Studies Professors 9.7% $62,620

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Health & Physical Education?

48,130 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
49% Percent Women
37% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is one of the most frequently chosen undergraduate majors. It is the 9th most popular in the country with 48,090 students graduating with a bachelor’s in phys ed in 2019. According to recent stats this major attracts about equal numbers of men and women. Roughly 49% of the graduates are women, and 51% are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of phys ed majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Phys Ed Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 2,487
Black or African American 5,838
Hispanic or Latino 6,936
White 28,227
International Students 1,070
Other Races/Ethnicities 3,572

Geographic Diversity

Phys Ed appeals to people across the globe. About 2.2% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • China
  • South Korea
  • India

How Much Do Health & Physical Education Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education made a median starting salary of $28,000 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $25,150 (25th percentile) and $30,800 (75th percentile).


It is possible that some of these people may have taken positions that were not related to phys ed.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $44,580 to $72,190 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to phys ed. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Health & Physical Education Major  ( 44580 to 72190 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with phys ed require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for phys ed careers below.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 5.9%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 5.9%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 6.4%
Some College Courses 2.3%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 7.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 27.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.9%
Master’s Degree 30.5%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 1.3%
Doctoral Degree 10.4%

Online Health & Physical Education Programs

In 2018-2019, 1,358 schools offered a phys ed program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 224 4
Certificate (1-2 years) 123 4
Certificate (2-4 Years) 4 0
Associate’s Degree 494 31
Bachelor’s Degree 50 22
Post-Baccalaureate 224 4
Master’s Degree 440 134
Post-Master’s 5 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 64 4
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Health & Physical Education Worth It?

The median salary for a phys ed grad is $49,280 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 24% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $187,600 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to phys ed.

Major Number of Grads
Recreation Administration 3,676
Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 3,561
Other Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 227
Outdoor Education 216


*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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