Career Information for a Degree or Certification in Athletic Training

Sep 25, 2019

An individual with a degree or certificate in athletic training can go on to work in the military, sports, or healthcare. One can use their skills to teach/instruct athletics or physical fitness.

Essential Information

Athletic trainers work with athletes and doctors to prevent and treat sports-related injuries in athletes. To become an athletic trainer, a bachelor's degree or higher is required and prepares students for certification from the Board of Certification, Inc. Persons who enjoy studying biology, physiology and physics, as well as those with an interest in sports work well in this industry.

Career Title Athletic Trainer
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree; master's degree helpful for advancement
Other Requirements Licensure or certification required in most states
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 19%
Average Annual Salary (2018)* $49,280

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

The American Medical Association recognizes athletic training as a health care profession. A degree program in athletic training prepares students to become certified and work in a variety of places, including schools, professional sports facilities, the military or hospitals—developing good athletic habits and applying rehabilitative techniques. Athletic training degree programs prepare people to work with doctors and athletes to prevent and treat sports-related injuries, such as shin splints, dislocated joints and torn ligaments. Students in athletic training degree programs study muscles, ligaments and bones and how they work together as well as the types of injuries they may sustain. Other subjects include general physiology, physics and the effects of medications and other drugs. Degree programs in this field are available on the bachelor's, master's and doctoral level and prepare students for certification from the Board of Certification Inc., which is required in most states. Trainers must keep current on relevant training issues and techniques through continuing education options in order to maintain certification.

Head Athletic Trainer for a Sports Team

Head athletic trainers direct the work of assistant athletic trainers, full athletic trainers and related workers. They may set policies regarding athletic training and implement policies set by coaches, athletic directors or medical managers. Head athletic trainers have extensive contact with athletes and students, although they have additional administrative and managerial duties. Many head athletic trainers hold master's or doctoral degrees and have extensive experience in the field.

Athletic Trainers in the Military

While athletic trainer is not an occupation for enlisted personnel in any branch of the military, athletic trainers may be employed as independent contractors used by various branches of the military or as part of the civil service system.

According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), the United States Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit program used a large number of athletic trainers to meet the physical fitness needs of soldiers and their families, and the Marines employed athletic trainers at five bases in the United States. Opportunities for athletic trainers in the Navy included the development of fitness training programs, and civilian athletic trainers worked directly with the Navy SEALS. Additionally, the Coast Guard employed three trainers, but there were few opportunities for trainers to work with the Army or Air Force.

Athletic Trainers in a Health Care Setting

Athletic trainers often work in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers and at physician's offices. They may help diagnose injuries and recommend treatments. Athletic trainers create exercise and rehabilitation programs for patients as well as the elderly. They may also serve as liaisons between patients and physicians in the emergency room.

Treatment by an athletic trainer is more economical than by a physician and frees up the physician to see additional patients. As a result, more insurance companies are willing to recognize athletic trainers as health care providers.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 19% job growth for all athletic trainers in the decade 2018-2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that athletic trainers earned $49,280 as an average annual wage.

Generally speaking, athletic training programs teach students how to train people in need of exercise. Trainees may be soldiers, athletes, or clinical rehab patients. A bachelor's degree is the usual requirement, and either licensure or certification is also required in most states.

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