Salary and Career Info for an Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Athletic trainers have a lot of choices when it comes to places of employment. The focus of their work is to regulate and work with their clients to treat and prevent muscle and bone injuries. Optional certification is available for athletic trainers, though some states require licensure.

Essential Information

Clients and patients seek out athletic trainers to receive education and assistance with developing an athletic plan and schedule to accomplish sports goals. They also work with athletes to prevent injury and provide first aid or emergency care. Athletic trainers may work in a variety of settings, including colleges, with professional sports teams, physicians' offices, fitness centers or the military. Their education usually consists of a bachelor's or master's degree, and most states required a license to work as an athletic trainer.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree
Other Requirements Most states require a license; optional certification is also available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 19%* (for all athletic trainers)
Median Salary (2018) $47,510* (for athletic trainers)

Sources *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median salary for athletic trainers was $47,510 as of May 2018. Workers in the top ten percent of the pay range made $70,750 or more. The lowest-paid ten percent made $31,010 or less annually. Trainers who worked for promoters of performing arts, sports and similar events had the highest average annual salary at $74,180, but employed few athletic trainers compared to colleges and universities, which employed the most athletic trainers.

Job Outlook

The BLS reported that employment for athletic trainers was expected to grow much faster than average. Additionally, job prospects in the healthcare industry should be good, but there may be competition for positions. Between 2018-2028, the total employment for this occupation could increase by 19%, partially due to increasing concern about sports injuries, especially to young athletes.

Career Information

Athletic trainers assess, diagnose, prevent, rehabilitate and treat muscle and bone injuries in patients and clients. Educating patients on exercising, including properly performing specific exercises and using exercise equipment, allows athletic trainers to reduce potential injuries and maximize a client's health and performance results from exercise. Administrative duties like scheduling and billing can be required of some athletic trainers.

Licensure and Certification

The majority of states require athletic trainers to be registered or licensed, basing their licensure on certification from the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC). Graduation from an accredited athletic bachelor's or master's degree and an examination are required to complete the certification process ( In a few states where licensure is not required, obtaining a certification can still lead to increased employment opportunities. Following the BOC ethical codes and completing continuing education requirements is needed to maintain this certification.

Athletic trainers need to have a bachelor's or master's degree in their field to give them the background and experience for their career choice. They can work in a variety of settings but are mostly responsible for creating exercise programs for their clients to minimize the possibility of injuries and increase overall health. Most states require registration or licensure for athletic trainers.

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