Adaptive Physical Education Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A well-rounded high school education is a good foundation for future adaptive physical education work. Math, science, English, and psychology classes are helpful. Take as many physical education classes as possible and participate in sports. The work entails knowledge of database software and other programs, so be sure to take computer courses also.

Postsecondary Education

Most public schools require adaptive physical education specialists hold a bachelor's degree and teaching license or certificate. Private schools may not have these requirements. Undergraduate course work is in physical education, sport science, kinesiology, biology, psychology, health, recreation, dance, and related subjects. Many adaptive physical education specialists go on to earn a Master of Science in Education, specializing in adapted physical education.


Adapted physical education specialists who meet qualifications and pass an exam can receive the Certified Adapted Physical Education (CAPE) designation through the Adapted Physical Education National Standards. Recent graduates of physical education programs as well as professional physical education teachers and those teaching in higher education and academic programs are eligible for certification. The CAPE designation lasts for seven years.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

All public schools require teachers to be licensed. For employment, teachers must have completed a teacher preparation program, which includes supervised teaching experience. Many states offer general licenses for special education, allowing teachers to work with students with disabilities. Special education teachers, including adaptive physical education teachers, must complete a period of student teaching to qualify for licensing. Student teaching may last for one to two years, and entails creating lesson plans and teaching students in a classroom setting under the guidance and supervision of a mentor teacher. Student teaching is often included in undergraduate and graduate programs for special education.

Other Requirements

Many schools require teachers to have a clean record and pass a background check, possibly including a drug test, to qualify for employment.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Employers prefer to hire adapted physical education specialists with at least two to three years of prior work-related experience. The job requires clear communication skills, careful listening, and a large amount of patience and flexibility. Interest in helping others is essential in this field. Students' needs will frequently change, and adaptive physical education specialists must pay close attention to their students' progress and adjust their physical education programs to ensure goals are achieved. There are many challenges in this work. Students may be difficult at times and become frustrated, and it's up to the adapted physical education specialists to encourage them and give positive, constructive feedback. General fitness and stamina are needed for demonstrating physical activities. Computer skills are needed for record keeping, report writing, and communicating with other teachers, coworkers, students, and parents.