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Athletic Training Career

Explore a career in athletic training in today's competitive job market...

Athletic trainers are health care practitioners who specialize in working with sports professionals. They should not be confused with personal trainers or fitness workers as they have higher levels of education and very different training. This allows them to do far more than coach people in how to meet their fitness goals. They also diagnose and treat exercise-related conditions. They apply bandages and take steps to prevent further injuries. They may help rehabilitate the muscular and skeletal systems after injury and they sometimes also aid athletes with other health conditions.

Become an Athletic Trainer

Athletic Training Resources...

Athletic trainers are often on the scene when injuries occur, and so they need to be prepared to handle emergencies. Those who work with professional athletes are in regular communication with the team doctor.

Job Setting for Athletic Trainers

Most athletic trainers work with sports players, either amateur or professional. Some, though, work with other people who need rehabilitation. Athletic trainers may be employed by colleges and schools or by health care facilities; some are employed within the fitness industry. The military also employs athletic trainers as training specialists.

Athletic training can be a lifestyle as well as a career. Many athletic trainers travel with sport teams. They may work very long hours during the competition season. Some trainers work with secondary students; they may also teach classes.

Athletic Training Education

All athletic trainers hold at least a bachelor's degree and the majority hold master's degrees. Master's degrees are particularly important for those who want to work with athletes at the college or pro level as these jobs are competitive. Students should enroll in programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education or the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association.

The athletic training curriculum includes foundational courses, professional courses, and clinical experience. Typical foundational courses are anatomy and physiology, biology, kinesiology, and statistics. Professional content includes therapeutic modalities, rehabilitative exercise, acute/ emergency care and health care administration. The program culminates with two years of supervised clinical experience. Young people who are interested in athletic training may want to do career exploration through organizations like Learning for Life.

Licensing and Board Certification for Trainers

Most states license the athletic training profession. The first step is completion of a CAATE-accredited program. Certification through the Board of Certification is typically the next stage in the process. This entails an examination. Prospective athletic trainers must also have training and certification in emergency cardiac care. This is available through organizations like the Red Cross.

Board certification is a separate process from licensing. Candidates should be aware that while most states have requirements that are very similar to those of the BOC, there is some variance. There may be alternate pathways or additional course requirements. Candidates will find a link to their own board on the BOC site. Athletic trainers who want to work in secondary schools may need teaching certification as well. Athletic trainers can expect to do continuing education to maintain their credentials.

Salary and Career Outlook

Athletic trainers are in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected an extraordinary 37% growth in the profession during the years 2008 to 2018. There are several reasons for the increase. Some states are working toward placing athletic trainers in all secondary schools where there are student athletes. Health care facilities are increasingly employing athletic trainers. Payer policies require credentialed professionals, and athletic trainers are more cost effective than many other health care providers. Positions in professional and collegiate sports, though, will be harder to come by.

Athletic trainers earned a mean annual wage of $44,030 in 2010, according to the BLS. The highest paid trainers are the 5% who are employed in spectator sports; they earn about $54,240. Those employed at schools earn above the mean -- $52,840.

To learn more about becoming an athletic trainer, you may wish to explore schools that offer relevant athletic training programs. You may also be interested in learning more about the certification process for athletic trainers across the country or explore other options for a career in health care.