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Health & Physical Education Major

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Health & Physical Education

8,423 Master's Degrees Annually
300 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#27 in Popularity (Master's)
$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
Master’s Degree 8,423
Doctor’s Degree 300
Graduate Certificate 141

What Health & Physical Education Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, phys ed majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Phys Ed Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these 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

A major in phys ed prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

  • 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

Phys Ed majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

  • 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?

People with a phys ed degree often go into the following careers:

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
Recreation and Fitness Studies Professors 9.7% $62,620

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

8,423 Master's Degrees Annually
42% Percent Women
29% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
Health and Physical Education runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #27 out of all the graduate majors we track. In 2019, about 8,423 graduates completed their master’s degree in this field. This major attracts more men than women. About 58% of the graduates in this field are male.

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 Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 166
Black or African American 1,226
Hispanic or Latino 774
White 5,129
International Students 438
Other Races/Ethnicities 690

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Phys Ed. About 5.2% 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?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of health and physical education students with a master’s degree is $39,200 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $36,000 (25th percentile) and $42,425 (75th percentile).


We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to phys ed so take that into consideration.

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 the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

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.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to phys ed have obtained the following education levels.

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 the 2018-2019 academic year, 1,358 schools offered some type of health and physical education program. 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 379
Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 184
Outdoor Education 39
Other Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 25


*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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