Athletic Trainer

Athletic Trainer Career

Athletic Trainer Career

Sports injuries are all too common — you’ve probably seen athletes get seriously injured on live television. However, before an ambulance has the chance to arrive, the team’s athletic trainer(s) are beginning the patient’s road to recovery. They know exactly how to asses, treat, and transport the athlete and they know how to care for the injury during the recovery process.

Fast Facts

  • Minimum Degree/Certification Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training, must pass the Athletic Training Certification (ATC) test
  • Vital Skills/Knowledge: Anatomy and Physiology, Injury Treatment and Prevention, Medical Assessment and Referral
  • Average Starting Salary: $27,000–30,000 a year


Job Description

Athletic trainers’ daily duties vary, based on where they work. They may be associated with sports teams, sports medicine centers, schools, dance troupes or even circus groups — anywhere where physical injuries are common. An athletic trainer is not a “trainer” per se; they do not focus on the athlete’s fitness, as a personal trainer would. Instead, they are responsible for the following: monitoring any athletes with chronic conditions, educating the entire team on proper injury care and prevention, and treating all acute injuries. In a day, an athletic trainer might:

  • Set breaks, sprains, twists or fractures
  • Relocate dislocated joints
  • Tape, brace and/or ice old injuries
  • Assist in recovery exercises

An athletic trainer must have excellent knowledge of the body’s musculoskeletal system. They need to quickly and accurately identify problems and know exactly how to treat them. They must also know when more advanced medical help is required and how best to get the patient to the correct specialist.

Education Overview

To become an athletic trainer, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. These are typically four-year programs. College coursework may include classes like:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries
  • Biology
  • Chemistry

If you have enjoyed science coursework in the past, you may enjoy earning your degree in athletic training. A good understanding of basic mathematics and statistics is also helpful.

High school students can begin preparing for a degree in athletic training by taking challenging coursework, focusing on biological sciences. Maintaining a solid GPA and keeping a moderately vigorous schedule will increase your chances of success when applying to colleges, as well as make the transition between high school and university easier.

Certification/ Licensing

The Board of Certification (BOC) requires prospective athletic trainers to pass the ATC exam, after the completion of a bachelor’s degree program. Once passed, the athletic trainer will maintain their certified status as long as they keep up with their continuing education requirements (taking classes to ensure they are up to date on the latest in sports medicine and athletic training). The BOC certification is recognized in 43 states in the US.

Job Outlook; Excellent

The median pay for an athletic trainer is $41,600 per year, nearly double the median American income of $26,000. Employment for athletic trainers is anticipated to increase by 30% between 2010 and 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is much faster than the average annual growth rate. Due to the variety of employment opportunities available, athletic training should continue to be a desired position well into the future.

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