How to Become an

Athletic Trainer

The complete career guide to be an Athletic Trainer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $46,940
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 21.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

An athletic trainer is a healthcare professional who works with athletes of varying levels, to prevent, diagnose or treat injuries related to physical activity and ensure they are healthy. They might also provide first aid or emergency care as needed.

Recommended Schools

What is an Athletic Trainer?


Job responsibilities as an athletic trainer involve the duties mentioned here:

  • Collaborate with an athletic team’s physician, the athlete and their parents as well as coaching staff for nutrition, protective gear and conditioning requirements.
  • Assess the seriousness of acute injuries and treat them with protection, ice, support, ultrasound, cold/heat therapy and electrical stimulation.
  • Be in charge of game and event preparation of athletes, including medical coverage as scheduled with supervisor.
  • Maintain state license requirements and national certification through annual completion of Continuing Educational Units (CEU) as well as AED, CPR and First Aid Certifications.
  • Manage the budget, inventory and necessary materials for supplies and efficiently operate the training room.

Day In The Life

You can expect different challenges day-to-day when working as an athletic trainer in an academic environment like a high school or college. You will work with athletes in different capacities such as elementary school children to sports professionals participating in the Olympics.

Working from the athletic training facility, you will meet with many student athletes such as basketball, baseball and football players that need to be cleared on fitness grounds, before practice. You will check for new injuries with some athletes through an evaluation process, while taking care of rehabilitation for athletes with existing injuries. Using independent judgement and discretion, you will develop, evaluate and modify each athlete’s exercise program for rehabilitation to help them return to pre-injury state.

Keeping detailed records on either a computer or in notebooks is essential to this role. The better part of your day will include writing injury reports, injury care instructions, athlete treatments, progress of rehabilitation and insurance details. Maintaining appropriate student records as required by law and district or administrative policies is important. With athletes coming in and out of the treatment room, your work environment will be quite disruptive and these disturbances are routine to the role.

Work Schedule And Typical Hours

As an athlete trainer, you will have flexible work hours, including overtime due to team schedules. Many tasks will be performed under stressful conditions, so self-motivation and an independent work ethic will take you far in this field. Punctuality with regard to meetings and tight deadlines for established schedules needs discipline, due to the nature of the work. You may have to climb stairs, lift and carry objects up to 50 pounds, and move equipment or light furniture as required.

Growth Of The Job

When you become an athletic trainer, you can look forward to a projected job growth of 30% for employment as athletic trainers in the near future, which is almost three times the average for other jobs in the country. There will be increasing demand due to greater awareness of the role and its capability to prevent long-term sports injuries in student athletes that are part of school teams and youth leagues. In addition, insurance companies are seeing the advantages of utilizing athletic trainers as cost-saving healthcare professionals and providing reimbursements for their work.

Typical Employers

Most professionals in this job sector work in educational settings like universities, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges. Alternatively, you can find work with hospitals, fitness centres, physicians or clinics and professional sports organisations.

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How To Become an Athletic Trainer

To find work in this field, you will need to have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in sports medicine, physical therapy or exercise science. Coursework should include relevant subjects like biomechanics, physiology, anatomy and nutrition or health sciences. Medical and scientific coursework is crucial since your work will involve evaluating and correcting treating injuries. You will also have to successfully pass an exam and receive certification from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association or Board of Certification. Eventually, you will require a master’s degree to advance to higher positions.

Finding success in this career path requires you to be physically fit and have a genuine concern for helping athletes with their injuries. Good written and verbal communication skills are essential since you will be interacting with a diverse range of folks, including student athletes, their peers, their parents, coaches and professional physicians. Being approachable is also important because athletes feel vulnerable discussing their injuries and overall physical health.

Athletic Trainer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Athletic Trainer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Athletic Trainer's can make an average annual salary of $46,940, or --- per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $36,010 or --- per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #424 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Athletic Trainer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Athletic Trainers

  • 2.5%   Doctorate
  • 22%   Masters
  • 35.6%   Bachelors
  • 9.3%   Associates
  • 18%   College
  • 10%   High School
  • 2.6%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Athletic Trainer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 5,400 jobs for a total of 30,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 21.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #47 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Athletic Trainers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 4,000 2,400 2%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 3,800 800 1%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 2,800 200 0%

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