Career Path Options for an Athletic Trainer

The average value of the Bachelor degree needed to become a Athletic trainers is $822,224.00.

Points of Interest

In almost every sporting event, one will notice athletic trainers on the sidelines. Whether it be professional sports or high school athletics, there is a personal trainer watching and waiting in the case that an athlete needs his or her assistance. However, many people do not know that athletic trainers are also used in industrial work zones as well although they may not always be on site as is the case with sporting events.

This allied health career centers around the first response to an accident or injury where the athletic trainer can initially diagnose the problem and provide preventative medicine to ensure the injury does not progress. Some of the injuries an athletic trainer may deal with on a regular basis are strains, sprains, fractures, and cramps although more serious injuries such as myocardial afflictions may also be require attention. When not directly dealing with an injury in the workplace or on the playing field, athletic trainers may also teach courses in the classroom and in the workplace on how to avoid common injuries such as sprains, strains and other job or sports related injuries.

This classroom teaching is usually based on the practices that athletic trainers learned while completing the required academic coursework to reach his or her degree. Although athletic training is not to be confused with physical therapy, athletic trainers may also educate people on exercises that will reduce the risk of injuries on the job or in the sports arena.

Nature of Work

There are many avenues as to how an athletic trainer may work with individuals in and outside of his or her field. For instance, an athletic trainer for a high school football team may double as an athletic trainer as well as a teacher of health and physical education. Athletic trainers on higher levels may work indirectly with a doctor where he or she will diagnose and educate a specific athletic team or workforce and relay the education classes and diagnostic problems of the players or workers on to a doctor for further examination. The level an athletic trainer has with his or her clients greatly depends on the amount of education that he or she has attained in their chosen field.

athletic trainers


There are also some athletic directors that may be responsible for athletic or work related safety programs. These duties may include, but are not limited to, purchasing, stocking of supplies, billing and other finance related responsibilities and education implementation. For those looking into the possibilities concerning an athletic training career, the work environment can vary. For instance, one who works with a high school athletic team may have an office that is inside the specific high school he or she works for. There are some programs where one athletic trainer may be responsible for multiple programs at different schools.

Similarly, an athletic director assigned to an industrial business may report to that particular business each and everyday although it is unlikely that an athletic trainer would be working within more than one large corporation. The actual setting in which the athletic director may work can also vary. The school athletic director may travel with a number of teams within the school such as the football team, basketball team, and other sports teams. This type of travel will put the individual working both outside and inside as well as having office time. The hours can vary as well. Many sports teams for high school, and even collegiate athletics, have competitions during evenings and weekends, which means that an athletic trainer will need to be very versatile in his or her scheduling.

The hours for an athletic trainer can also vary. In some instances, an athletic trainer may have normal hours. Normal eight to five working hours usually are reserved for trainers that work in businesses that have normal operating hours. One can expect to work up to fifty hours per week, and in some cases even more. Sports teams may require one to travel during the week and on weekends. The travel that is required with these types of organizations may also require overnight stays for up to weeks at a time.

However, those that do travel can expect to be paid for their time spent away from home, which is one of the few perks of working in professional and collegiate sports. Those pursuing a career in athletic training within the realm of collegiate and professional sports should expect to be present at each practice, game, and hours where athletes may come in for special treatment or exercises. These types of trainers should also be aware of the responsibility that goes with programs such as collegiate and professional sports.

These programs may sometimes require that the athletic trainer be an administrative expert as well who stocks and orders all supplies necessary for the prevention of sports related injuries, balancing his or her budget when it comes to purchasing said supplies, and other responsibilities that may go along with the program other than the actual athletic training itself. Potential athletic trainers should review the requirements that any program may have before taking a job due to the fact that in some sports one may be required to be on call twenty four hours per day for seven days per week.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

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About this Section In most states, there is extensive training and qualifications that must be met before one can become a certified athletic trainer. There are many programs at universities throughout the US for athletic training certification although these programs are becoming increasingly competitive with each passing year. Traditionally, athletic training has been a program that would require at minimum a four year degree although one can proceed to attain his or her master’s and doctorate in the field as well. However, due to the overwhelming responsibilities that go along with increased competition and athleticism, many organizations are looking for assistants to couple their athletic trainers.

Some states are now offering a two year degree in athletic training that does not certify one to become an athletic trainer but familiarizes one enough with the program where he or she may be qualified to assist. Education for a four year degree in athletic training will require accreditation from a qualifying program that focuses on physical and biological aspects of the human body. Anatomy and physiology are one of the main courses that are required for the degree as is some chemistry and physics. Although traditionally not a part of past programs, nutrition and other lifestyle health courses are now being required by some programs.

The reason being is that research has shown that living a healthy lifestyle can be one of the most effective forms of preventative medicine whether in the workplace or on the playing field. Those who begin a program after their undergraduate degree can expect to become top earners within the field as well as hold jobs with more responsibility. Although gaining a master’s degree in the program may require intensive study and dedication, many find that this extra two years will pay off both monetarily and emotionally in the long run. Also, many athletic trainers find that although traveling with a team may be entertaining for awhile, it is easy to become tired of the hustle and bustle that accompanies that type of lifestyle.

By attaining a master’s certificate within the field, one opens him or herself up to the possibility of teaching within a program at a college or university, which offers a more set schedule while still keeping one’s salary competitive. For those completing their undergraduate program, he or she must understand that another examination after graduation will be required. This licensure examination is filtered through the Board of Certification, Inc., which oversees a number of different certifications. Also, continuing education classes are normally required in all states that require certification.

This means one will have to complete a certain number of hours at symposiums where others in that field discuss new research and methods effective for treating the number of ailments an athletic trainer may deal with. Successful athletic trainers must not only have a solid understanding of bio-mechanics, but will need to understand social aspects of treating job and sports related injuries. Athletes may not always tell a trainer when he or she is injured for fear that he or she will not be allowed to compete. Although athletic trainers are not mind readers, a trainer should be able to identify when a player, or even a worker, is not performing up to full capacity.

This ability comes with understanding and recognizing behaviors that are out of the ordinary and responding to those behaviors in a non-threatening manner. Because an athletic trainer must deal with these issues as well, he or she may be required to take certain sociology and psychology courses along with other science requisites. Although the best opportunities for advancement within the field of athletic training come with an increase in education, there are a few other ways to gain higher pay and more responsibility.

By becoming part of a particular program and successfully tending to its needs for a number of years is one way to let other potential employers see that one is ready to move up. Also, with so many medical advancements based on preventing injuries, there are many sales positions available to successful athletic trainers, which may enable one to have normal working hours with a competitive salary and bonuses.


About this Section According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, athletic trainers were employed in over 16,000 positions in the year of 2008. These jobs were present in every state of the union. Many of these jobs were held in public institutions such as colleges, universities, and high schools although some jobs were also held in the private sectors revolving around business and industry. With competition becoming a more integral part of high school and college, these jobs are expected to increase over the next few decades. Job Outlook About this Section Those thinking of potentially going into one of the many athletic training fields will be glad to know that he or she has a good chance of employment.

Even the most sought after jobs that are at the top of the ladder may increase due to the fact that many colleges are adding more sports programs to their list. This also means that the increase in assistants within the field of athletic training should increase as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the field of athletic trainers to grow thirty seven percent from the year of 2008 until 2018. More jobs are expected to increase within the healthcare industry due to so many hospitals and clinics focusing on employees’ physical stability, which will in turn reduce their insurance payouts.

Because the baby boom generation is aging, the need for these types of programs within business is expected to rise as well. Just like hospitals and health clinics, the general labor industry will also be looking for ways to keep employees healthy and insurance premiums reasonable. By hiring an athletic trainer to provide preventative education to its employees, a company may be able to cut its insurance rates significantly just by having someone on staff. Also, with the government investing in public schools more than in the past, high schools and middle schools across the country may have the ability to hire a full time athletic trainer for their program instead of sharing a trainer across multiple programs.

Repetitive stress injuries have been on the rise in even the younger athletes, which may be reduced by having an athletic trainer on hand at all times. Another arena that athletic trainers are said to become more prevalent is within the civil service offices as well. Jobs that require physical exertion such as firefighters, police officers, military personnel, and even postal workers have been identified as having the need for someone like an athletic trainer to keep these workers in prime shape and educate them on the do’s and don’ts of physical exertion. The job growth is expected to rise in areas such as the high school and healthcare industries.

Because jobs in colleges, universities, and professional athletics are very competitive, these areas are said to be more stable and will see less growth. Industries such as civil service will see an increase in the need for athletic directors as well as even elementary schools.


With so many additions to the field of athletic training, the field is expected to grow from its currents job offerings of around 17,000 at the present, to 23,000 by 2020. This increase is due to the increased demand in fields such as healthcare and the medical clinic settings. Although the military may not label its offerings as athletic training, there is said to be a rise in the need of those trained in this field.


Athletic training can be a well paying field for those who are prospectively thinking of beginning this field of study. However, those in their first years should not expect much unless he or she has become employed by a collegiate or professional team, which is highly unlikely. For those with a four year degree working in the healthcare or high school areas, he or she should expect to make somewhere around $30,000 per year. Those who have a master’s or doctorate degree may have the option for higher positions with more responsibility, which may start out around $50,000 per year.

With advancements and completed years of experience within organizations, one can expect to increase his or her salary approximately ten percent over the course of eighteen month spans. Although the salary may not be the best, one should have great benefits and a good retirement package, especially for those in the healthcare industries. Wages The annual median wage for an athletic trainer is listed on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website as somewhere around the mid $40k’s. The lower 10%, those starting out, is listed at around $25K, and the top 10% (those with master’s and doctorates), are listed above $65,000 per year.

Related Occupations

There are various occupations that may be related to the athletic training field. Many physical therapist jobs have some of the same required courses as athletic trainers, and the two fields may cross paths from time to time. Also, nurses and nutritionists have similar job requirements, especially with a national focus on lifestyle choices such as healthy foods and exercise. First responder aspects of athletic training may also be similar to emergency medical technicians and first responders.

Sources for Additional Information

For those who would like more information on the subject of becoming an athletic trainer, he or she may visit (National Athletic Trainer’s Association), where he or she will find information pertaining to requirements as well as schools whom participate in athletic training programs.