The Scoop on Athletic Trainer

Athletic Training might sound like a fun-filled job working for a pro sports franchise where you get to hang out with rich athletes and stretch them out before a game.

Well, you MIGHT get a job like that, but the field is much more expansive than charter flights and Kobe Bryant needing a calf stretch. Because the field is more expansive than working for pro athletes it is expected to grow faster than the national average and the prospects look very good.

What in the World Does an Athletic Trainer Do?

Athletic Trainers work with a variety of people who have strenuous jobs or avocations. Basically, if you do anything that messing with your muscles and Athletic Trainer is probably in your future.

Many times an Athletic Trainer is one of the first people you see when you get hurt, so an Athletic Trainer has to know a lot about how to treat an injury and how to make sure you don't make it worse. This is usually where people think of working for a sports team (high school, college or pro), but there are other things you might have to do.

If you're working as an Athletic Trainer you might be called on to advise a company's employees as to how to prevent injury. For example, industrial workers may need to know how to do strenuous labor without hurting their backs or your might need to be able to advise patients in a nursing home to get around without re-injuring their bad hips or knees.

Occasionally, if you're working for a hospital or health clinic you might be called in to consult patients after they have had surgeries or been treated for injuries. You are the first line of defense because as much as a Doctor knows they will call you in to make sure the patient knows EXACTLY how to take care of themselves.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

The standard of training for working as an Athletic Trainer is a Bachelor's Degree. There are many programs in colleges and universities where you can get this sort of degree so that isn't a problem. However, many Athletic Trainers also hold Master's or Doctoral Degrees ad this may lengthen your stay in school if you are in a place where you need more training to get a job. Typically, the employer decides what kind of Degree they want you to have, but they also post on job openings what they want. Deciding how much schooling you need may require a "pre-job" search to see what people in your area want. Also, consider that some employers may hire you with a Bachelor's Degree and allow you to work on your Master's while you are with them.

If you want to become an Athletic Trainer with a Bachelor's Degree, then your Bachelor's Degree should be from a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredited school. If it isn't, then you will probably have trouble getting licensed without a Master's Degree. Many online Bachelor's Degrees for Athletic Training are not CAATE accredited.

After you decide the Degree you need and get out of school you'll need to be licensed to practice as an Athletic Trainer. This requires getting certified by the Board of Certification (BOC). Typically, this means you have to pass a written exam and a "skills" test before you can be licensed. If you live in one of the 4 States that doesn't require licensure it might still be a good idea to get a license to make yourself look better to potential employers.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Hospitals, sports teams, school districts, health clinics, and Doctor's offices employ most of the Athletic Trainers in the industry. Working in a hospital brings you in contact with the widest array of patients and injuries. If you like a challenge and steadier work hours this is the place to be.

Working for a school district means you're probably also teaching. So, you're in class during the day and then spending another 20-30 hours a week training the team that you work with. If you're at a college you would work with the team that you train all season long, but even in the off-season you would work pretty long hours keeping the team in shape while they do off-season workouts. Taking a job with a seasonal team doesn't really mean you get a huge break.

You might work at an Orthopedic Surgeon's office where you consult with the surgeon's patients and help them before and after surgery. This means you're going in and out of the hospital from the office depending on the needs of the patients and what the Doctor needs, but you might be able to keep fairly regular office hours.

Working at health clinics would be the most challenging avenue to take because the patients are walk-ins and you never know what you're going to get. However, this is a great "battlefield" to work in if you like a challenge.

Advancement in the field usually means getting those advanced degrees I mentioned earlier. With an advanced degree you'll be able to teach in a college or university, get into supervision or even research. Basically, that means you don't have to stretch Bubba's calves for your whole life if you don't want to.

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Athletic Trainers Overview

Athletic Trainer Salary:$39,640
Job Prospects:B
Education after high school:6 years
# Employed in US:15,070
% Who work Part Time:38%
Physical Difficulty:+ + + + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being an Athletic Trainer

  • You can get in with a Bachelor's Degree
  • You can work for a sports team if you like sports
  • If you are a teacher you might be able to do this AND teach as well

The Cons of being an Athletic Trainer

  • Some employers require an advanced degree
  • You spend a lot of time on your feet
  • Because sports teams have such coveted jobs you might have to work your way up to get a job like that