What Is An Athletic Trainer?
An athletic trainer is a certified healthcare professional who specializes in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses sustained during physical activity. Athletic trainers work closely with athletes, coaches, and medical professionals to ensure that athletes remain in optimal condition and are capable of safely competing in their respective sports.
Athletic Trainer Duties
The primary duties of an athletic trainer include:
- Developing and implementing injury prevention programs for athletes
- Accurately assessing and diagnosing injuries sustained during physical activity
- Creating and overseeing personalized treatment plans for injured athletes
- Utilizing various therapeutic modalities (e.g., ice, heat, electrical stimulation) as part of treatment
- Collaborating with physicians, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals to ensure the athlete’s optimal recovery
- Supervising athletes’ return to play and monitoring their progress
- Educating athletes, coaches, and parents on injury prevention and proper care
- Maintaining accurate records of athletes’ injuries and treatments
- Ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and best practices in the field of sports medicine
Day In The Life of an Athletic Trainer
A typical day for an athletic trainer may involve:
- Arriving early to set up the athletic training room and prepare for the day’s activities
- Meeting with coaches to discuss any athlete injuries or concerns
- Evaluating injured athletes and determining if they are able to participate in practice or competition
- Treating injuries and providing necessary care, such as taping, wrapping, or providing rehabilitative exercises
- Attending practices and games to provide on-the-spot care for injured athletes
- Documenting all injuries and treatments provided
- Meeting with physicians and other healthcare professionals to discuss athlete progress and care plans
- Participating in continuing education opportunities to stay current on best practices in the field
Athletic Trainer Work Schedule
Athletic trainers may work long and irregular hours, often including evenings, weekends, and holidays, as they are required to attend practices and competitions. The physical and mental demands of the job can be significant, as athletic trainers must be able to quickly assess and address injuries under potentially high-pressure situations.
Athletic trainers typically work in various settings, including indoor and outdoor sports fields, athletic training rooms, and occasionally in medical offices or clinics.
Growth Of The Athletic Trainer Career
The demand for athletic trainers is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 16% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to increased awareness of the importance of injury prevention and proper care for athletes, as well as an overall increase in participation in sports.
Typical Athletic Trainer Employers
Athletic trainers are typically employed by:
- Schools (elementary, middle, and high schools)
- Colleges and universities
- Professional sports organizations
- Sports medicine clinics
- Rehabilitation centers
- Corporate wellness programs
- Military and law enforcement agencies
Some athletic trainers also work as independent contractors or consultants, offering their services to multiple clients or organizations.
How To Become An Athletic Trainer
To pursue a career as an athletic trainer, individuals must:
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree in athletic training or a related field from an accredited program.
- Complete a minimum of clinical education hours under the supervision of a certified athletic trainer.
- Pass the Board of Certification (BOC) examination to become a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
- Obtain licensure or registration in the state in which they plan to practice, if required.
- Maintain certification through continuing education and adherence to the BOC Standards of Practice.
Athletic Trainer Salary Data
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for athletic trainers was $48,440 as of May 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $32,070, while the highest 10% earned more than $73,470. Salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, employer, and geographic location.
Popular Colleges for Athletic Trainers
Many colleges and universities offer accredited athletic training programs. Some popular institutions include:
- Michigan State University
- University of Michigan
- University of Florida
- Pennsylvania State University
- University of Texas at Austin
Job Growth Projections And Forecast for Athletic Trainers
As mentioned earlier, the job growth rate for athletic trainers is expected to increase by 16% between 2019 and 2029. With increased participation in sports and a growing focus on athlete health and safety, qualified athletic trainers will be in demand. This field offers opportunities for advancement, such as becoming a head athletic trainer, athletic director, or specializing in a specific area of sports medicine.