Welcome to Athletic Trainer Salary Headquarters! You’ll find everything you need here in regards to Athletic Trainer Salary data, the necessary training and requirements to become an athletic trainer, the examination and hiring process, and general tips about the athletic training career.
So you’re interested in a possible career as an athletic trainer? If you’d take on this career path, you’d be venturing into an exciting and in demand career with tons of potential! The average lifetime value of a career in Athletic training is over $800,000, but before you let that figure over excite you, take the time to find out if athletic training is for you.
What is An Athletic Trainer?
You’ve seen them at nearly every sporting event, and you’ve probably mistaken them for a player or an assistant coach, but athletic trainers are the behind the scenes heroes who work hard to optimize the performance and overall health of some of our favorite athletes.
Athletic trainers function as first responders when an athlete is involved in an accident or sustains an injury. The athletic trainer provides the initial diagnosis following an injury and prescribes preventative care to prevent the injury from progressing and causing further damage.
Athletic trainers not only work with sports teams; they can also be found in hospitals, schools, gyms, private practices, and anywhere else their expertise is needed. For instance, several athletic trainers develop fitness and wellness programs for businesses to reduce workplace injuries and improve the quality of life for their employees.
Even the military employs athletic trainers to create and develop specialized programs for the Special Forces, Navy Seals, the Green Berets, and certain military sports teams. Law enforcement programs across the country also solicit the expertise of athletic trainers to train their cadets and SWAT teams. Several athletic trainers also teach courses in the classroom and the workplace on how to avoid common injuries such as sprains and other job or sports related injuries.
Athletic Trainer Job Description
Athletic trainers are most visible when an athlete sustains an injury, but contrary to what we see, the primary goal of an athletic trainer is to prevent injuries for the athletes and patients in their care; they do this by bracing areas of the body that are most susceptible to injury and overseeing proper cooling of muscles after strenuous practice and conditioning sessions.
Athletic trainers also must be able to prevent injury by teaching athletes and patients exercises that reduce the risk of injury. Athletic trainers must be in fairly good shape themselves as they are often required to stand, bend, kneel, and squat over an extended period of time as they assist athletes. Athletic trainers tend to work longer hours than the standard work week, often ranging from 50 to 70 hours each week, and they must be able to adapt to sudden schedule changes and different working environments. Athletic trainers who work with sports teams are usually required to travel with the team to away games and other events, which may require overnight travel and traveling for weeks at a time.
When they’re not working directly with athletes and patients or conditioning programs, athletic trainers are wielding their administrative expertise. Many athletic trainers are in charge of the administrative side of managing their athletic and conditioning programs; therefore, athletic trainers must be able to balance their program’s budget and order their program’s necessary supplies for the prevention and treatment of sports injuries.
Employment Prospects and Industry Growth
If you’re thinking of becoming an athletic trainer, you’ll be happy to know that the job outlook for athletic trainers is fairly bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment prospects athletic trainers is expected increase by nearly 40 percent between 2008 and 2018, and there are several reasons for the boom in athletic trainer positions.
As more general employers realize the importance and value of having an athletic trainer on staff, athletic trainers will find employment opportunities in new and uncommon settings. Insurance premiums are a huge driving factor for the increased attention and desire for athletic trainers. More and more companies are recruiting athletic trainers to provide preventative education that effectively reduces injuries and subsequent insurance payouts.
As the baby boomer generation ages, the need for athletic trainers will also rise in businesses and programs that employ or target older generations.
Institutions of learning, from universities all the way down to elementary schools, are hiring athletic trainers at a faster rate than ever before. With repetitive stress injuries and concussions on the rise for young athletes, schools are hiring athletic trainers to teach their young athletes how to avoid injuries and how to properly rehabilitate injuries when they occur.
Those who study to become an athletic trainer will have huge earnings potential after college. You will find that the salary for an athletic trainer can vary greatly for a number of reasons, particularly when it comes to the chosen work setting. For example, athletic trainers who work in the NFL can earn an annual salary of $125,000 or more, while emergency athletic trainers can earn upward of $100,000. Athletic trainers who work in the recreational or youth sports industry earn the lowest annual salary out of all athletic trainers, coming in at $38,000.
Earning potential for athletic trainers also varies with the highest level of education you complete. If you’re fresh out of undergrad with your athletic training degree, you can expect to earn around $32,000 your first year on the job, and luckily that figure will become progressively higher after each year experience you get under your belt. A Bachelor’s degree will earn you a national average of $46,000 per year, while a Master’s takes your average salary up to just over $51,000 a year. Any athletic trainer that earns their doctorate will find that the rewards are more than worth it, as the average national salary per year raises to $76,000.
Geography can also play a big part in the earning potential of an athletic trainer. Athletic trainers living and working in New Jersey earn around $67,000, one of the highest athletic trainer salaries in the nation. Rhode Island athletic trainers earn some of the lowest wages in the field with an average state salary of just over $34,000. Working in a metropolitan area is the quickest way to boost your earning potential as an athletic trainer, but of course you have to take the cost of living in a particular area into consideration.
While working as athletic trainer is an exciting and rewarding career, I have to be honest, getting there takes a lot of commitment, determination, and dedication. It’s important to fully understand the level of commitment it takes to become an athletic trainer in order to make the proper steps toward an athletic training career with confidence and stay the course. During your time at college, you will take a large number of first aid, emergency care, athletic injuries and illnesses, sports psychology, and nutrition and community health courses that are essential to become a fully certified trainer.
The most important aspect of becoming an athletic trainer is enrolling in a program that is fully recognized Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Failure to enroll in a CAATE accredited program will absolutely prevent your chances of sitting for certification exams, so don’t waste your money on an athletic training program that isn’t accredited. While some of these programs can be costly, the money you invest in your education will pay huge dividends in career opportunities within the athletic training field and beyond.
Although it’s not entirely necessary, earning a Master’s degree following your undergraduate training can be highly beneficial in terms of salary and career advancements, and may open you up to more challenging (such as management) and higher paying job opportunities a job after finishing your schooling. A master’s degree is also the best educational option for aspiring athletic trainers who are changing careers later in life and have earned their undergraduate degree in another field. Going the masters route will ensure that you don’t have to complete another 4 years of undergraduate school and possibly save you more money.
If you don’t want to work in academia as an athletic trainer, a doctorate degree is an absolute must. Like other advanced medical professions, you must take the MCAT and enroll in a medical school program to earn your doctorate degree. To get into medical school, you will need to first take and pass the Medical College Admissions Test. While there are few universities that offer a doctorate in athletic training, the opportunities with this degree are endless.
While you’re completing your athletic training degree, most programs require that students work as an intern or apprentice to get the hands on and practical experience they need to fully demonstrate their abilities to work as an athletic trainer. Apprenticeship hours are also required to complete the final step toward becoming an athletic trainer, passing your Board of Certification (BOC) exams. The BOC exam is administered by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association, and the exam tests each student’s proficiency in the six domains of athletic training.
Once you pass the BOC and obtain certification, you must obtain 80 continuing education hours over the course of three years to maintain your certification. but keeping this certification is another matter entirely. In order to do so, you will need to take a number of smaller classes each year, such as emergency care and first aid classes. It’s also a good idea to take courses related to the athletic training industry, attend symposiums and conferences, and do whatever else is necessary every once in a while to stay abreast of new developments and changes within the sports medicine industry.
Top 5 Athletic Training Programs
University of Michigan
The undergraduate Athletic Training Education Program at the University of Michigan is a wonderful program that will allow students to take the Board of Certification Examination upon completion. This program allows students to obtain entry-level work in a number of fields, such as sports medicine clinics, colleges and professional sports programs, and the athletic training graduate program is perfect for people who already have a 4-year degree.
There are a number of unique benefits that place this program into the top 5. For instance, class sizes are small, which allows for a more comfortable atmosphere when studying, as well as more attention from the teachers. The hands-on aspect of the program will allow you to work directly with some of the world’s best athletes, and the training facilities within the school are of the highest quality, and the faculty and athletic training staff are among the most qualified in the country.
University of Florida
Within the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida is the esteemed Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree. This degree is a nationally accredited program that is designed to train students to become skilled entry-level professionals in a wide array of athletic training specialties. The hands-on lab sessions strive to educate students by allowing them to have a variety of real-world and practical experience diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries.
One of the most defining features of this program is the semester-long clinical experience where students work as athletic trainers in one of the local high schools or small colleges within the area.
University of Miami
The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree from the University of Miami is one of the best in the nation. Throughout the entirety of the program, students are enrolled in supervised clinical education rotations that helps them master many of the practical situations they’ll face once the graduate and enter the field. This one-of-a-kind program allows students to work with professional sports teams throughout the surrounding Miami area.
University of Texas, Austin
The bachelor of science in athletic training program at the University of Texas, Austin campus is a four-year program where students take AT-based courses for three years and enroll in a directed observation program for one year. The directed observation program gets students outside of the classroom into the field where they get a chance to practice all they’ve learned in the past three years with a local sports team, schools, and physicians. Each student will be put to the test five hours each week with practical situations they’ll encounter everyday upon graduation.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
The bachelor of science in athletic training at UIUC is rigorous, but it adequately train students to become some of the best fully-certified athletic trainers in the nation. Students must complete 128 credit hours across varied class-based and clinical-based courses to complete the program. Students must complete 10 hours of clinical courses where their ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent injuries will be thoroughly evaluated. After completing all of the necessary requirements for graduation, students are eligible to register for the BOC exam to become an athletic trainer.
Online Athletic Training Programs
Online education programs have opened up many fields of study and a world of opportunities for countless people. While there are few online programs available for athletic training, due to the inability to complete necessary lab-based courses online, you can complete a considerable amount of required courses online. Additionally, some closely related programs, such as online sports management, sports and health sciences, and sports medicine degrees, may cover many of the necessary courses to meet NATA standards. The biggest thing to enrolling in an online athletic training program is making sure that the program is CAATE certified. If the program isn’t, it’s a waste of your precious time and money.
There are a number of fantastic colleges with online degrees that may fulfill the course requirements for becoming an athletic trainer. The American Military University offers a bachelor and master of science in sports and health sciences, while also offering a master’s degree in sports management, and all classes can be taken online. Liberty University and Alma College are two private colleges that both offer undergraduate degrees in Athletic Training. Ohio University offers a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and a master’s degree in athletic administration. Each of these degrees are fully accredited and will count just the same as a campus-based athletic training degree. There are also a few strictly online colleges, such as Post University, Ashford University and Saint Leo University that offer a baccalaureate degrees in sports management. Many of these programs can be completed at a lower cost than campus-based degrees, and you can also complete these programs at your own pace.