28 September, 2023 | Posted by Jenny Smith

Discover PE Teaching as a Rewarding and Active Career

In the diverse tapestry of careers in education, there are few paths as vibrant and dynamic as that of a Physical Education (PE) teacher.  

At first glance, you might imagine a PE teacher as someone orchestrating a game of basketball or teaching the basics of a sport. However, delve a little deeper and you'll uncover a role that's profoundly intertwined with the holistic development of students — both physically and mentally.  

An active lifestyle isn't just a choice for PE teachers; it's a daily commitment, a passion. Beyond the energising environment and the chance to sport your tracksuit daily, lies a deeply rewarding profession. 

PE teaching encapsulates a career where you shape young minds, impart the value of health and fitness and inspire a lifelong love for movement and well-being.

If you've ever considered stepping onto this dynamic playing field, this article aims to guide you through the exhilarating world of PE teaching and discovering it as a rewarding and active career choice.

We hope to support you in embracing a profession that’s not only active in its nature but also deeply fulfilling at its core. 

The Role of a PE Teacher Today 

Imagine a world where educators not only teach but also inspire, where classrooms extend beyond four walls, and where lessons resonate for a lifetime. This is part of the role of PE teaching today, the modern PE teacher wears many hats, all designed to shape holistic health and well-being. 

The role of a PE teacher has evolved remarkably in recent years, particularly since the introduction of Physical Education as a senior cycle subject in the Leaving Cert in Ireland in 2018. Let’s examine the role of PE Teachers now:

1. Moulding Holistic Individuals

No longer confined to just imparting sports techniques, PE teachers aim to develop students' physical, emotional, and social skills. They foster resilience, teamwork, leadership, and perseverance, ensuring students are not only fit in body but also in mind and spirit.

2. Advocate for Lifelong Fitness

As screens dominate daily life, PE teachers play a critical role in instilling the importance of lifelong physical activity. Through varied and engaging lessons, they introduce students to sports and activities that can be pursued throughout life, from traditional Gaelic games to global favourites like basketball, yoga or dance.

3. Championing Mental Well-being

The link between physical activity and mental health is well-documented. PE teachers, acknowledging this interconnection, can focus on activities that promote mental wellness. Mindful movement, relaxation techniques, and the sheer joy of play contribute to students' overall emotional well-being.

4. Inclusion and Diversity

PE offers an opportunity to emphasise inclusivity in education. Lessons are designed to cater to students of all abilities, ensuring everyone feels valued and included. This approach champions the idea that fitness and sports are for everyone, regardless of skill level or background.

5. Integrating Technology

Gone are the days of just stopwatches and whistles. Today's PE classrooms might include heart rate monitors, fitness apps, and virtual reality experiences. This tech integration not only engages the digital-native generation but also enhances the teaching and learning experience.

6. Community and Environmental Engagement

PE teachers often transcend the confines of school walls, engaging with local communities, and leveraging the natural environment. Be it a hike through the countryside or an urban dance class, they utilise diverse settings to provide enriching experiences. 

7. Continuous Professional Development

To stay relevant and effective, PE teachers actively seek professional development. They stay updated with the latest in sports science, pedagogical techniques, and global best practices, ensuring their students receive a contemporary and comprehensive education. 

The role of a PE teacher today mirrors a global shift in understanding the comprehensive importance of physical education. These educators are not just teachers; they are mentors, health advocates, tech integrators, and community leaders.  

As the world increasingly acknowledges the intertwined nature of physical and mental health, the role of the PE teacher becomes ever more crucial, proving that their influence is vast for current and future generations. 

Portobello Institute graduate, Niamh Lister, followed her passion by leaving her job in tech sales to fulfil her potential with a Graduate Diploma in PE.

“When I began to coach part-time I got a huge amount of job satisfaction and enjoyment from what I was doing and knew that I wanted to make this my full-time career. I knew that going back to full-time education would mean some huge sacrifices but fortunately, Portobello provided a great stepping stone into full-time education.

The PE top-up in Portobello was very important for me in gaining the credits to allow me to apply for the masters in PE teaching in UL,” she said. 

Educational Pathways to Becoming a PE Teacher in Ireland 

Beyond the exhilarating rush of the games and the vibrancy of the field lies a journey of dedication, education and passion for anyone who wants to become a PE Teacher. In Ireland, becoming a PE teacher is more than just a career choice; it's a calling. Let's explore the multifaceted pathways you can use to follow your passion and fulfil your potential as a PE teacher. 

1. Undergraduate Degrees in Physical Education

A popular starting point for many prospective PE teachers is to pursue an undergraduate degree specifically in Physical Education. These programmes provide comprehensive insights into both the theory and practice of physical education. Core subjects often include human movement, sports psychology, anatomy, and teaching methodologies. Portobello Institute offers a BA (Hons) in Physical Education.

2. Concurrent Teacher Education Programme

Some Irish institutions offer concurrent programmes where students can simultaneously study Physical Education and teacher training. This integrated approach enables students to graduate ready to step into the classroom without requiring additional postgraduate qualifications. 

3. Postgraduate Studies in Education 

If you've pursued an undergraduate degree in a field other than education, don't fret! Many PE professionals in Ireland opt for postgraduate studies in education, such as the Professional Master of Education (PME). Other options include gaining a Graduate Diploma in Physical Education which allows you to progress on to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education Internation (PGCEi) combined with an MSc in Physical Education. This pathway allows graduates from diverse disciplines to acquire the necessary teaching credentials, with a special focus on physical education.

4. Specialised Courses & Certifications

In addition to formal degree programmes, Ireland offers numerous specialised courses and certifications. Whether it's coaching credentials for specific sports, courses in adapted physical activity, or certifications in health and wellness, these add-ons can significantly bolster a PE teacher's repertoire.

5. Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

The learning doesn't stop once you become a PE teacher. The ever-evolving landscape of sports science, health studies, and pedagogy necessitates continuous learning. Ireland boasts a plethora of CPD opportunities, workshops, and seminars designed to keep PE teachers at the pinnacle of their profession.

6. Building Experience: Practical Placements & Internships

Most educational pathways in Ireland incorporate practical experiences. These placements, often in schools or community settings, provide budding PE teachers with invaluable hands-on experience, mentoring opportunities, and a chance to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios. 

Embarking on a journey to become a PE teacher in Ireland is both structured and versatile, with myriad pathways catering to diverse backgrounds and interests. As physical and mental well-being become increasingly emphasised, PE teachers stand as pillars in this mission. Whether you're a recent school leaver, a graduate from a different discipline, or an international educator looking to teach in Ireland, the pathways are clear and promise a career filled with impact and fulfilment.

Portobello Institute graduate, Dylan Prendergast, gained his Postgraduate Diploma in Physical Education at Portobello Institute.

“My time with Portobello has been very enjoyable. It has completely blown my expectations. This time last year I did not know what I wanted to do, but I have now nearly completed this post-grad and I have got accepted onto the PME in Physical Education at the University of Limerick, starting in September 2023," he said. 

The Physical and Mental Benefits of an Active Career in PE Teaching 

In the mosaic of modern careers, PE teaching stands out as a dynamic interplay of physical vigour and mental fortitude.  

While the idea of an active career often conjures images of athletes or fitness trainers, PE teachers tread a unique path that offers a multitude of health benefits, both physical and psychological.  

Let's dive into the world of PE teaching, and discover how this career doesn't just benefit students, but the educators themselves. 

1. Staying Physically Fit

It's no secret that regular movement keeps the body healthy. PE teachers, by the very nature of their job, indulge in daily physical activities. Whether it's demonstrating a new drill, playing a sport, or guiding students through exercises, their routine involves consistent cardiovascular and muscular engagement. 

2. Mental Agility and Quick Thinking

Teachers need to think on their feet, adapt to situations, and make split-second decisions. This cognitive agility, sharpened over time, enhances mental alertness and problem-solving skills. 

3. Reduced Sedentary Risks

With sedentary lifestyles linked to various health concerns, from cardiovascular diseases to obesity, an active career in PE teaching offers a natural antidote. Regular movement and reduced desk time contribute to overall better health and reduced risks of sedentary-associated ailments. 

4. Stress Relief and Emotional Well-being

Physical activity is a known stress buster. The endorphin release associated with movement acts as a natural mood enhancer. PE teachers, amidst their active routines, often experience these mood boosts, promoting emotional well-being and combating stress and burnout. 

5. Building Social Connections

A career in PE teaching is inherently social. Teachers interact with students, colleagues, and parents, fostering a sense of community. These social interactions can be profoundly fulfilling, leading to enhanced mental health and a feeling of belonging. 

6. Mindfulness and Present Moment Awareness

The physical nature of PE often requires being in the moment. Whether it's guiding a yoga session or focusing on a game's strategy, PE teachers routinely practice mindfulness. This focus on the present moment can lead to improved concentration and a serene mental state. 

7. Lifelong Learning and Cognitive Benefits

The world of sports, fitness, and physical education is ever-evolving. As PE teachers continuously learn and adapt, they engage in lifelong learning. This continuous education has cognitive benefits, keeping the brain active and reducing the risks of cognitive decline. 

An active career in PE teaching is a treasure trove of benefits, extending far beyond the physical. The symbiotic relationship between body and mind is profoundly evident in this profession. As PE teachers guide, inspire, and educate the next generation, they simultaneously reap the rewards of a career that nourishes multiple aspects of a healthy life.

Colm Dunne graduated with his BA (Hons) in Physical Education at Portobello Institute, gained his PME and is now working in his dream job as a PE Teacher.

“I am now teaching PE in a local school close to where I live. It’s a great school with fantastic facilities. I’m teaching LCPE to 5th & 6th years. I really am working my dream job, something that would not have been possible without Portobello.

“Any student who is even thinking of pursuing a degree in PE, sports coaching or sports science, should really consider Portobello," he said.

Influencing the Next Generation's Health and Wellness as a PE Teacher 

Have you ever wondered about the true impact of a PE teacher? Beyond the playground, the whistle, and the sports kit lies a role of immense influence.  

A PE teacher doesn't just teach students how to play sports; they become pillars of health and sources of information and inspiration in the maze of wellness.  

In this rapidly changing world, where screens compete for attention and sedentary lifestyles are on the rise, PE teachers stand at the forefront of shaping the next generation's health and wellness perspectives.  

1. The Power of First Impressions 

For many students, a PE teacher provides their first formal introduction to sports and physical activity. The passion, knowledge, and encouragement of a PE teacher can shape a child's lifelong relationship with fitness. It’s not just about the rules of a game but instilling a love for movement. 

2. Promoting Holistic Wellness 

Modern PE goes beyond physical exercises. Teachers incorporate lessons on nutrition, mental health, and the importance of rest and recovery. Students learn that wellness is multifaceted, encompassing mind, body, and spirit. 

3. Fostering Resilience and Tenacity 

Through sports and physical challenges, students learn the art of perseverance. A supportive PE teacher teaches them that setbacks are a part of growth. This resilience transcends the gym, becoming a valuable life skill. 

4. Creating Safe Spaces for Expression 

The PE environment allows students to express themselves, be it through dance, sports, or other physical activities. In these spaces, students can explore their strengths, confront their insecurities, and celebrate their achievements. 

5. Championing Teamwork and Collaboration

Many PE activities are team-based, teaching students the value of collaboration, understanding, and mutual respect. These lessons in teamwork go beyond the playground, preparing students for collaboration throughout life.

6. Leading by Example

A PE teacher's personal commitment to health and wellness serves as a living testament to the lessons they impart. Their dedication, discipline, and zest for life inspire students to adopt similar values.

7. Bridging the Gap with Technology 

Today’s PE teachers also integrate technology into their lessons. From fitness apps to virtual exercises, they bridge the gap between digital natives and physical fitness, making wellness more accessible and relatable.

8. Nurturing Lifelong Habits

The routines, disciplines, and values instilled by a PE teacher often stick with students for life. Regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, and mental well-being become ingrained habits, influencing their long-term health trajectories. 

The role of a PE teacher is expansive and influential. They aren’t just educators; they are life coaches, guiding stars, and sometimes, the unsung heroes in a student's wellness journey.  

As they shape the physical curriculum, they also mould the health and wellness perspectives of the next generation. If you're considering PE teaching or are already a part of it, know that your influence is profound and far-reaching, making waves in the vast ocean of health and well-being.

Jessica Demori De Almeida's ambition was to travel the world as a PE teacher and studying at Portobello Institute helped her to achieve this. 

“Of all the courses in Dublin, Portobello was the most affordable and handy to do, as I used to live in the city centre. I love travelling and PE so I could put everything together working as a teacher or a sports coach," she said.

Diverse Opportunities within a PE Teaching Career 

When you think about a PE teacher, it's often within the context of a school or playground. But, in truth, the realm of PE teaching bursts with opportunities that extend far beyond traditional boundaries.

For those considering a career in PE or even seasoned professionals seeking a new adventure, the array of possibilities is diverse and inspiring. 

1. Traditional School Settings

At the core of PE teaching lies the traditional role within primary and secondary schools. Here, teachers introduce students to a plethora of sports, cultivate foundational skills, and foster a love for physical activity.

2. Specialised Sports Coaching

Passionate about a particular sport? PE teachers can delve deep into specialised coaching, from guiding elite young athletes to training school or community teams. Whether it's basketball, athletics, swimming, or martial arts, specialised coaches shape the next generation of sports enthusiasts and professionals.

3. Adapted Physical Education

Working with students who have disabilities or additional needs requires a unique blend of expertise and empathy. In adapted PE roles, teachers modify and design activities to ensure every student, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, has access to the benefits of physical education.

4. Outdoor and Adventure Education

Nature's classroom beckons those with a love for the great outdoors. PE teachers can specialise in outdoor education, leading students on hikes, camping trips, rock climbing excursions, or even overseas adventures, teaching survival skills, environmental stewardship, and teamwork in the process.

5. Dance and Movement Therapy

At the crossroads of fitness and art lies dance. But beyond artistic expression, dance can be therapeutic. PE professionals with a penchant for rhythm can explore dance therapy, using movement as a medium to address emotional, cognitive, and physical challenges.

6. Health and Wellness Consulting

With an increasing global emphasis on health and wellness, PE teachers can become consultants for schools, businesses, or community groups, designing wellness programs, giving talks, and advocating for active lifestyles.

7. Technology and Virtual PE

The digital age hasn't left PE untouched. Energetic educators can venture into the realm of virtual PE, creating online courses, fitness apps, or video content that brings physical education into the digital sphere.

8. Research and Academia

For those with a thirst for knowledge, diving into sports science or pedagogical research offers a chance to shape the future of PE. Universities and research institutions often seek experts to study, innovate, and educate the next wave of PE teachers.

9. Community and Non-Profit Initiatives

Beyond formal institutions, community centres, NGOs, and non-profit organisations often require PE professionals to spearhead fitness and wellness initiatives, especially in underserved or vulnerable communities. 

The world of PE teaching is vast and dynamic with room for specialisation and adaptation. Each avenue offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards, ensuring that every PE teacher can find a niche that resonates with their passion and expertise. As you contemplate or navigate your journey in PE teaching, know that the horizon brims with opportunities waiting for you to seize and make a difference. 

Exploring the Digital Age and PE Teaching 

In an era when smartphones, smartwatches, and smart classrooms have transformed the way we live and learn, even the time-honoured field of PE isn't left untouched. At the crossroads of tradition and technology, PE teaching is undergoing a dynamic evolution, turning challenges into opportunities and redefining the boundaries of physical education. Let's delve into this exhilarating journey, where bits and bytes merge with bats and balls.

1. Tech-infused Fitness Assessments

Gone are the days when fitness assessments were limited to stopwatches and tally charts. Modern PE classrooms now employ wearable tech, heart rate monitors, and apps that provide real-time data, enabling precise tracking of students' progress and tailored instruction.

2. Interactive PE Lessons

Interactive projectors and digital platforms are bringing the world into the PE space. Teachers can now conduct virtual tours of international sports arenas, delve into 3D anatomy lessons, or even invite global sports icons for a virtual chat, enriching students' learning experiences.

3. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in PE

Imagine playing a game of virtual tennis or climbing a digital mountain. VR and AR technologies are opening new horizons, allowing students to experience activities otherwise restricted by geographical or logistical constraints.

4. Online PE Communities and Collaborations

The digital age has expanded the PE classroom to the global stage. Teachers collaborate across continents, share resources, and discuss methodologies on online platforms, fostering a global community dedicated to advancing physical education.

5. Digital Wellness and Mindfulness Tools

Mental well-being goes hand-in-hand with physical fitness. Apps that guide meditation, mindfulness exercises, or even monitor mental well-being are becoming integral tools in the PE teacher's arsenal, ensuring holistic health education.

6. Gamification and Fitness Challenges

Leveraging the love for digital games, PE educators are gamifying fitness challenges. Leaderboards, digital badges, and virtual competitions are motivating students to push their limits, making physical activity both fun and rewarding.

7. Remote PE Lessons

The recent global shifts towards online education have spotlighted the potential of remote PE lessons. With guided home workouts, virtual dance classes, and digital yoga sessions, PE teachers have showcased adaptability and creativity in keeping students active, even from a distance.

8. The Ethical Dimension: Balancing Tech 

While digital tools offer numerous advantages, PE educators are also championing the ethical use of technology. Balancing screen time, ensuring data privacy, and fostering real-world interactions remain at the core of PE's philosophy in the digital age. 

The digital age, often seen as a challenge for the hands-on, physical nature of PE, is instead proving to be a catalyst for innovation. With technology as a trusty sidekick, PE teachers are crafting a future where physical education is not just about movement, but also about connecting, exploring, and evolving in sync with the times.

As we stride forward, one thing is clear: the fusion of technology and PE teaching holds boundless promise, beckoning a brighter, more inclusive, and exhilarating future.

Shane Walsh is a Galway GAA player who quit his career in banking to follow his passion for sports on and off the pitch. Shane is currently studying for his BA (Hons) in Physical Education on his path to becoming a PE Teacher.

"When I go into the classroom, I'm going in to make those students better by the end of the class," he said. 


Future Trends in PE Teaching: A Glimpse into the Classrooms of Tomorrow  

The world of education, much like everything else, is in a constant state of evolution. PE, once regarded as a straightforward discipline focused primarily on traditional sports, is blossoming into a multidimensional field that intertwines health, technology, and holistic student development.  

Aspiring PE teachers, get ready! The future beckons with exciting, innovative trends that promise not only to elevate the profession but also to transform the very fabric of physical and health education.

1. Tech-Integrated Fitness

Wearable fitness trackers, augmented reality sports simulations, and apps designed for real-time performance analysis are just the tip of the technological iceberg. The future PE classroom is likely to seamlessly integrate these tools, offering students a blend of traditional activities complemented by state-of-the-art technology.

2. Emphasis on Mental Well-being

Physical health and mental well-being are two sides of the same coin. The PE classrooms of tomorrow will prioritise mindfulness, meditation, and mental health, ensuring students develop both physically and emotionally.

3. Diverse and Inclusive Sports

The sports repertoire will expand to include a more diverse range of activities. From global games originating in different cultures to newly conceived sports, the goal is to cater to varied interests and abilities, ensuring every student finds their niche.

4. Environmental Consciousness

With a growing global emphasis on sustainability, future PE classes will integrate environmental education. Think nature hikes with lessons on ecology, or outdoor classes focusing on the importance of conservation.

5. Holistic Health Education

Beyond just sports and games, PE teachers will become holistic health educators. Nutrition, sleep science, and even basic anatomy could become integral components of the curriculum, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of wellness.

6. Remote and Digital PE Lessons

Building on recent global experiences, the concept of remote PE lessons will be refined and enhanced. Digital platforms will offer guided workouts, dance routines, and even group challenges, ensuring that physical education remains accessible, irrespective of location.

7. Community and Collaboration

PE won't be restricted to school grounds. Collaborations with local communities, involvement in public health initiatives, and partnerships with sports organisations will make PE a communal experience, bridging school activities with real-world applications.

8. Life Skills and Leadership

Physical education will play a pivotal role in developing life skills. Team sports that foster leadership, solo activities honing self-discipline, and group challenges promoting collaboration – every activity will be a lesson in character building. 

To the aspiring PE teachers reading this: the future is full of opportunities, challenges, and the promise of transformation.  

You're not just considering a career but a vocation, one that has the potential to shape the next generation in more ways than ever imagined.  

With these evolving trends, PE teaching is poised to be a dynamic, fulfilling, and impactful profession. Step into this world and be a part of sculpting the future of physical education. 

In the vast panorama of professions, PE teaching emerges not just as a job, but as a profound calling.  

As we've journeyed through PE Teaching as a rewarding and active career, from the multifarious roles to the evolving trends, one truth stands out: PE teaching is a dynamic blend of action, influence, and fulfilment. To those considering this path, know that it promises more than just a paycheck. It offers the chance to touch lives, shape futures, and be a beacon of health, wellness, and inspiration for generations to come.

Liam English is studying for his Graduate Diploma in Physical Education to combine with his undergraduate degree in economics and maths on his path to PE teaching.

Interested in PE Teaching?

Portobello Institute offers a pathway to PE Teaching without the need for CAO points.

Visit our sports department or course pages:

You can also watch our Pathways to PE webinar:

 If you are interested in any of our sports courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert sports advisor Jason Lester, email jason.lester@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0029. 


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