Athletic Trainers

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 Athletic Trainer Jobs

  • Personal Trainer - PRO Sports Club - Bellevue, WA

    The level of skills and abilities of the clients ranges from professional athletes to individuals who have no familiarity with and no prior

  • Seattle Personal Trainer - PRO Sports Club - Seattle, WA

    The level of skills and abilities of the clients ranges from professional athletes to individuals who have no familiarity with and no prior

  • Athletic Trainer II - San Jose - San Jose, CA

    Provide direction and training to less experienced Athletic Trainers. -Prevent, recognize and assess athletic injuries. Implement preventive and

See all Athletic Trainer jobs

What Athletic Trainers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses.

Duties of Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers typically do the following:

  • Apply protective or injury-preventive devices, such as tape, bandages, and braces
  • Recognize and evaluate injuries
  • Provide first aid or emergency care
  • Develop and carry out rehabilitation programs for injured athletes
  • Plan and implement comprehensive programs to prevent injury and illness among athletes
  • Perform administrative tasks, such as keeping records and writing reports on injuries and treatment programs

Athletic trainers work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes. Athletic trainers are usually one of the first healthcare providers on the scene when injuries occur. They work under the direction of a licensed physician and with other healthcare providers, often discussing specific injuries and treatment options or evaluating and treating patients, as directed by a physician. Some athletic trainers meet with a team physician or consulting physician regularly.

An athletic trainer’s administrative responsibilities may include regular meetings with an athletic director or another administrative officer to deal with budgets, purchasing, policy implementation, and other business-related issues. Athletic trainers plan athletic programs that are compliant with federal and state regulations, such as laws related to athlete concussions.

Athletic trainers should not be confused with fitness trainers and instructors, including personal trainers.

Work Environment for Athletic Trainers[About this section] [To Top]

Athletic trainers held about 25,400 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most athletic trainers were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 37%
Ambulatory healthcare services 26
Hospitals; state, local, and private 13
Fitness and recreational sports centers 11
Spectator sports 5

Many athletic trainers work in educational settings, such as colleges, universities, elementary schools, and secondary schools. Others work in hospitals, fitness centers, or physicians’ offices, or for professional sports teams. Some athletic trainers work with military, with law enforcement, or with performing artists.

Athletic trainers may spend their time working outdoors on sports fields in all types of weather.

Athletic Trainer Work Schedules

Most athletic trainers work full time. Athletic trainers who work with teams during sporting events may work evenings or weekends and travel often.

How to Become an Athletic Trainer[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Athletic Trainers near you!

Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree. Nearly all states require athletic trainers to have a license or certification; requirements vary by state.

Athletic Trainer Education

Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Master’s degree programs are also common. Degree programs have classroom and clinical components, including science and health-related courses, such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and nutrition.

The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredits athletic trainer programs, including postprofessional and residency athletic trainer programs.

High school students interested in postsecondary athletic training programs should take courses in anatomy, physiology, and physics.

Important Qualities for Athletic Trainers

Compassion. Athletic trainers work with athletes and patients who may be in considerable pain or discomfort. The trainers must be sympathetic while providing treatments.

Decisionmaking skills. Athletic trainers must be able to make informed clinical decisions that could affect the health or livelihood of patients.

Detail oriented. Athletic trainers must record patients’ progress accurately and ensure that they are receiving the appropriate treatments or practicing the correct fitness regimen.

Interpersonal skills. Athletic trainers must have strong interpersonal skills in order to manage difficult situations. They must communicate well with others, including physicians, patients, athletes, coaches, and parents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Nearly all states require athletic trainers to be licensed or certified; requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the particular state’s licensing or credentialing board or athletic trainer association.

The Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC) offers the standard certification examination that most states use for licensing athletic trainers. Certification requires graduating from a CAATE-accredited program and completing the BOC exam. To maintain certification, athletic trainers must adhere to the BOC Standards of Practice and Disciplinary Process and take continuing education courses.

Advancement for Athletic Trainers

Assistant athletic trainers may become head athletic trainers, athletic directors, or physician, hospital, or clinic practice administrators. In any of these positions, they will assume a management role. Athletic trainers working in colleges and universities may pursue an advanced degree to increase their advancement opportunities.

Athletic Trainer Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for athletic trainers was $44,670 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68,300.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for athletic trainers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $47,540
Hospitals; state, local, and private 45,270
Spectator sports 44,920
Ambulatory healthcare services 43,070
Fitness and recreational sports centers 40,800

Most athletic trainers work full time. Athletic trainers who work with teams during sporting events may work evenings or weekends and travel often.

Job Outlook for Athletic Trainers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. As people become more aware of sports-related injuries at a young age, demand for athletic trainers is expected to increase.

Recent research reveals that the effects of concussions are particularly severe and long lasting for child athletes. Although concussions are dangerous at any age, children’s brains are still developing and are at risk for permanent complications. Some states require public secondary schools to employ athletic trainers as part of their sports programs. Because athletic trainers are usually onsite with athletes and are often the first responders when injuries occur, the demand for trainers in schools should continue to increase.

In addition, advances and more sophisticated treatments in injury prevention and detection are projected to increase the demand for athletic trainers. Growth in an increasingly active middle-aged and elderly population will likely lead to an increased incidence of athletic-related injuries, such as sprains. Sports programs at all ages and for all experience levels will continue to create demand for athletic trainers.

Insurance and workers’ compensation costs have become a concern for many employers and insurance companies, especially in areas where employees are often injured on the job. For example, military bases hire athletic trainers to help train and rehabilitate injured military personnel. These trainers also create programs aimed at keeping injury rates down. Depending on the state, some insurance companies recognize athletic trainers as healthcare providers and reimburse the cost of an athletic trainer’s services.

Athletic Trainers Job Prospects

Job prospects will be best for candidates with a degree from a bachelor’s or master’s degree program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and for those who have certification from the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC).

Employment projections data for Athletic Trainers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Athletic trainers 25,400 30,800 21 5,400


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: