Athletic Trainers


Quick Facts: Athletic Trainers
2017 Median Pay $46,630 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 27,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 23% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 6,300

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Athletic Training Career, Salary and Education Information

What Athletic Trainers Do

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. They prevent injury through the use of devices such as tape and braces, recognize and evaluate injuries, and provide emergency care.

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Athletic trainers

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 on the field. 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; for example, they may ensure a football program adheres to laws related to athlete concussions.

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


Work Environment for Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers hold about 27,800 jobs. The largest employers of athletic trainers are as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private: 38%

Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists: 15%

Hospitals; state, local, and private: 15%

Fitness and recreational sports centers: 10%

Self-employed workers: 6%

Athletic trainers also may work with military, with law enforcement, with professional sports teams, or with performing artists.

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

Work Schedules for athletic trainers

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

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.

Education

Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Master’s degree programs are also common, and may be preferred by some employers. 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 hundreds of 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.

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 passing the BOC exam. To maintain certification, athletic trainers must adhere to the BOC Standards of Professional Practice and take continuing education courses.

Important Qualities

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 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.

Advancement

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.


salaries for Athletic Trainers

The median annual wage for athletic trainers is $45,630. 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 $30,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $69,140.

The median annual wages for athletic trainers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private: $48,170

Hospitals; state, local, and private: $45,490

Fitness and recreational sports centers: $44,540

Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists: $41,800

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

Employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 22 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Demand for athletic trainers is expected to increase as people become more aware of the effects of sports-related injuries, and as the middle-aged and older population remains active. 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.

Sophisticated treatments in injury prevention and detection are projected to increase the demand for athletic trainers. Growth in an increasingly active middle-aged and older 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.

Job Prospects for athletic trainers

Job prospects will be best for candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a 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, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 27,800

Projected Employment, 2026: 34,000

Change, 2016-2026: +22%, +6,200


Careers Related to Athletic Trainers

Coaches and Scouts

Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players and evaluate their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches also are involved in scouting.

Chiropractors

Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, as well as other clinical interventions, to manage patients' health concerns, such as back and neck pain.

EMTs and Paramedics

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care provided by these workers. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities.

Exercise Physiologists

Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve cardiovascular function, body composition, and flexibility.

Massage Therapists

Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. With their touch, therapists relieve pain, help heal injuries, improve circulation, relieve stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of clients.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of the rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.

Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient's physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Coaches and ScoutsBachelor's degree$32,270
ChiropractorsDoctoral or professional degree$68,640
EMTs and ParamedicsPostsecondary nondegree award$33,380
Exercise PhysiologistsBachelor's degree$49,090
Massage TherapistsPostsecondary nondegree award$39,990
Occupational TherapistsMaster's degree$83,200
Physical TherapistsDoctoral or professional degree$86,850
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$104,860
Recreational TherapistsBachelor's degree$47,680
Respiratory TherapistsAssociate's degree$59,710

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Athletic Trainers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers.htm