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Athletic Trainer

Overview

Certified athletic trainers are highly qualified health professionals who are trained in preventing, recognizing, managing, and rehabilitating injuries that result from physical activity. Athletic trainers can help you avoid unnecessary medical treatment and disruption of normal daily life; if you're injured, they are trained to work with your healthcare provider to get you on the mend and keep you on the move. 

The AMA (American Medical Association) has recognized athletic training as an allied health care profession since 1990.  If you become an athletic trainer, your job prospects are good:  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this field is projected to grow "faster than average" through 2012. Typically athletic trainers earn a salary of $35,000 to $75,000 per year. 

In addition, according to a recent survey by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), athletic trainers' salaries are on the upswing.

Since 2003, salaries have risen in the following settings: 

  • Youth sports (up 41%, to $46,296)
  • Professional sports (up 31%, to $50,515)
  • High schools (up 16%, to $42,442)
  • Hospitals (up 15%, to $54,292)
  • Performing arts (up 15%, to $56,135)
  • Government settings (up 9%, to $50,716)

For more information about this health career, see the National Athletic Trainers' Association website.

Working Conditions

As part of a complete healthcare team, the certified athletic trainer works under the direction of a physician and in cooperation with other healthcare professionals, athletics administrators, coaches and parents. The certified athletic trainer gets to know each patient/client individually and can treat injuries more effectively.

Athletic trainers work in a variety of different professional settings, including:

  • Professional and collegiate sports
  • Secondary and intermediate schools
  • Sports medicine clinics
  • Hospital emergency rooms and rehab clinics
  • Occupational settings
  • Performing arts
  • Law enforcement and military 
  • Physician offices

Academic Requirements

Certified athletic trainers have, at minimum, a bachelor's degree through an accredited athletic training program or meet other requirements set by the Board of Certification (BOC). The typical educational program includes: 

  • Risk management and injury prevention
  • Pathology of injury and illnesses
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Acute care of injury and illness
  • Pharmacology
  • Therapeutic modalities
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • General medical conditions and disabilities
  • Nutritional aspects of injury and illness
  • Psychosocial intervention and referral
  • Health care administration
  • Professional development and responsibilities

In addition to academic studies, students receive clinical training in a variety of practice settings, such as high schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, emergency rooms, physician's offices or healthcare clinics.

To find an accredited athletic training program, search for schools that provide training for this career. Also check out the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).