Athletic Trainer Job Description, Salary and Education Overview

Athletic trainers work with athletes of various levels in order to help them treat and prevent injury. They may work for elementary or high schools, private clubs or professional sports organizations.

By U.S. News University Directory
Posted 2010

Job Description for Athletic Trainers
Job Description for Athletic Trainers

Injuries are, unfortunately, a part of just about all kinds of sports competitions. For that reason, athletic trainers are almost always on hand to provide medical care for anything from a sprained ankle to a concussion. Athletic trainers are usually the first medical professionals on the scene of a sports injury, so they need to know what to do in any situation.

When an injury occurs at any level of training or competition, athletic trainers must be able to assess the nature and severity of the injury. They need to know whether an injury is more severe than they are equipped to deal with so they can call in the appropriate healthcare personnel. Athletic trainers also often provide follow-up care and help with rehabilitation for both minor and major injuries.

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Of course, it’s always better if injuries can be prevented from the outset. That’s why athletic trainers also work to educate the athletes under their care on how to build strength in a particular area so that they can minimize their risk of injury.

Athletic Trainers Job Summary

  • Long and irregular hours are common for those who work in this field.
  • There are and will continue to be many job opportunities for athletic trainers in high schools and other similar institutions, but the highly-coveted jobs at the college and professional levels of sports can be much harder to get.
  • Most athletic trainers, especially at the lower levels, have at bachelor’s degree. However, in order to increase prospects for advancement, it may be necessary to obtain some type of graduate degree in the field as well.
  • Good interpersonal skills are important for athletic trainers because they interact with many different types of people on a daily basis.

Work Environment for Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers work in a variety of different settings and under many different conditions. They may be required to spend a lot of time outdoors in all kinds of weather, or they may work predominantly in an indoor gym. Regardless of where they practice, however, most athletic trainers do not work regular hours.

Because they have to be on hand whenever and wherever a sporting event or practice is taking place, athletic trainers may wind up working as many as 12 or 14 hours a day at certain times of year. They may also have to travel with their team on a regular basis to attend competitions. There is often a great deal of pressure put on athletic trainers, particularly at the higher levels of athletic competitions, and they need to be able to manage the stress and make responsible decisions quickly.

Athletic Trainer Degree Requirements and Training

The minimum requirement for most athletic trainer positions is a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine or a related field. These degrees typically consist of coursework in biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry and nutrition. In order to increase opportunities for advancement, many athletic trainers choose to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. These are usually required for jobs in colleges or professional sports programs.

Almost every state also requires athletic trainers to be licensed by the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC). In order to obtain this licensure, athletic trainers must have completed an athletic training program from an accredited university and pass a written examination. Athletic trainers must keep their license current by regularly attending ongoing medical education courses.

Athletic Trainer Salary and Jobs Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were approximately 22,400 people employed as athletic trainers in May 2014. The number of job openings for athletic trainers is expected to increase 21% from 2012 levels through 2022 due to the increased emphasis on reducing healthcare costs. Job prospects will be best in high schools and hospitals, while jobs in colleges and professional sports will remain highly competitive.

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The annual income for athletic trainers can vary a great deal, but the median for this profession in May 2009 was $43,370 according to the BLS. The middle 50% of earners made between $34,950 and $53,900. Athletic trainers in the lowest 10% made $27,610 or less per year, while the top 10% brought in at least $67,070.

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