If you are an international student interested in physical fitness, and you enjoy working with children, you may consider studying health and physical education in the United States. This major prepares students to teach physical education and coach sports at various education levels, and allows you to help others develop healthy lifestyles.
Is Health and Physical Education Right for You?
If you think you would enjoy coaching a basketball team, teaching a dance class, or demonstrating a juggling trick, health and physical education might be the field for you. Students in this field learn how to promote and research physical fitness, as well as how to help people become better athletes. Studying health and physical fitness will prepare you to teach physical education and coach sports at various education levels.
When you study health and physical fitness, you will learn the science behind the moves, volunteer as a coach, camp counselor, or an assistant in an after-school program, and get involved in a variety of sports and physical fitness. To succeed in this major, you should be enthusiastic about fitness, ready to take on challenging science classes, and good at motivating people. Flexibility is also an important trait; you will need to be able to work with a variety of students, including hard-core athletes and students who dislike physical education.
While studying health and physical education, there are several courses that you should expect to take. These include, but are not limited to:
- Adapted physical education (for students with disabilities)
- Anatomy and physiology
- Coaching effectiveness
- Curriculum in physical education
- Human growth and development
Choosing a Health and Physical Education Program
When choosing a college or university in the United States at which to study health and physical education, there are a few questions you need to ask about each program. These questions include:
- Is the program accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
- Is the program approved by the state's department of education?
- Which education level(s) will you be certified to teach?
- Will you have to pass Praxis or other exams to be certified as a teacher?
- How much time will you spend observing, helping out, and student teaching in schools?
All of these are important factors to keep in consideration when choosing where to study health and physical education.
The most obvious career for students who have graduated with a degree in health and physical education is physical education teacher at an elementary school, middle school, or high school. While it is true that many students who study health and physical education do choose this route, it is far from the only career option for health and physical education students.
Health and physical education programs prepare their students for careers in both school and non-school settings. Graduates might choose to go on to work for sporting associations, universities and colleges, professional associations (such as the National Heart Foundation), health promotion agencies, and in private practice. Specific positions for international students who study health and physical education include:
- Health and physical education teachers
- Sports coordinator/coaches
- Professional coaches/director of coaching
- Outdoor educators
- Junior science teachers
- Education officers
- Sports administration officers
- Recreation and sports development officer
- Health promotion officers
- Corporate health officers
- Event manager of a sports arena
- Spa or health club manager
- Athletic clothing designer
- Public health nutritionist
- Cruise recreation director
- Sports agent
- Sporting goods marketing/sales
- Wellness/health promoter
So no matter where your interests in health and physical fitness lie, a degree in health and physical education will help you achieve a career that suits your interests.