Difference Between Athletic Trainer & Personal Trainer

May 29, 2020

Comparing Athletic Trainers to Personal Trainers

Athletic trainers help individuals with preventing and treating injuries, while personal trainers lead exercises and workout routines for individuals. While both athletic trainers and personal trainers work in fitness, they have very different job duties. Below you can learn more about these two fitness career options and how they compare.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Athletic Trainer Bachelor's degree $48,440 19%
Personal Trainer (Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors) High school diploma (some employers may prefer personal trainers to have a relevant college degree) $40,390 13%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Athletic Trainers vs Personal Trainers

Athletic and personal trainers both work with a variety of clients that range in age and ability. They also must provide first aid to clients if needed. These trainers work with athletes or individuals wanting to be physically fit. Though they share some similarities, their main tasks vary greatly as athletic trainers work directly with injuries of individuals while personal trainers instruct individual training sessions to improve fitness.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers support a variety of people that need to prevent or treat muscle and bone injuries. They work under a licensed physician and are involved with choosing treatment and recovery methods. Athletic trainers are responsible for keeping up to date with laws and regulations as well as ensuring their athletic program is compliant. Athletic trainers may work in schools, hospitals, military, or even for professional sports teams. They must be calm in stressful situations and make decisions that help the patient the most.

Job responsibilities of an athletic trainer include:

  • Diagnosing injuries
  • Preventing injuries using various devices
  • Offering rehabilitation programs
  • Keeping records of injuries and treatments

Personal Trainer

Personal trainers lead exercises and training programs for individuals or small groups. They show clients how to do an exercise or routine and assist clients while they are learning. These trainers must take into account what the client can do to match a fitness program to their abilities which will maximize their results. Personal trainers typically work in fitness or health clubs, gyms, as well as yoga and Pilates studios. Personal trainers work with a variety of clients throughout the day which means they must be physically fit to exercise all day. They must be able to motivate clients and listen to create fitness plans that will fit each client based on what they want or need. Personal trainers can advance onto head trainers or build their own fitness business.

Job responsibilities of a personal trainer include:

  • Reviewing progress of client fitness
  • Keeping clients safe during exercises and training
  • Providing healthy lifestyle information
  • Setting goals for clients
  • Developing various training programs

Related Careers

Becoming a chiropractor is an alternative career option a prospective athletic trainer might instead consider, as this occupation also involves working with patients that may have injuries or muscle issues. Those interested in being a personal trainer may also be interested in a career as a recreation director, which entails planning activities -- ranging from art to sports -- for the community.

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