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Career Guide: Athletic Trainer

Career Guide: Athletic Trainer

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Athletic trainers in sports settings have schedules that are longer and more variable. These athletic trainers must be present for team practices and games, which often are on evenings and weekends, and their schedules can change on short notice when games and practices have to be rescheduled. As a result, athletic trainers in sports settings may regularly work 6 or 7 days per week, including late hours.

In high schools, athletic trainers who also teach may work 60 to 70 hours a week, or more. In National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I colleges and universities, athletic trainers generally work with one team; when that team’s sport is in season, working at least 50 to 60 hours a week is common. Athletic trainers in smaller colleges and universities often work with several teams and have teaching responsibilities. During the off-season, a 40-hour to 50-hour work week may be normal in most settings. Athletic trainers for professional sports teams generally work the most hours per week. During training camps, practices, and competitions, they may be required to work up to 12 hours a day.

More on Athletic Training


Salary: $21,940 - $57,580
Min. Education: Bachelor's Degree
Related Careers: Fitness Trainer, Physical Therapist

There is some stress involved with being an athletic trainer, as there is with most health-related occupations. Athletic trainers are responsible for their clients’ health, and sometimes have to make quick decisions that could affect the health or career of their clients. Athletics trainers also can be affected by the pressure to win that is typical of competitive sports teams.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancemnt

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement to work as an athletic trainer, but many athletic trainers hold a master’s or doctoral degree. In 2006, 46 States required athletic trainers to be licensed or hold some form of registration.

Education and training. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is required for almost all jobs as an athletic trainer. In 2006, there were more than 350 accredited programs nationwide. Students in these programs are educated both in the classroom and in clinical settings. Formal education includes many science and health-related courses, such as human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and biomechanics.

According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, 68 percent of athletic trainers have a master’s or doctoral degree. Athletic trainers may need a master’s or higher degree to be eligible for some positions, especially those in colleges and universities, and to increase their advancement opportunities. Because some positions in high schools involve teaching along with athletic trainer responsibilities, a teaching certificate or license could be required.


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