How to Become an Athletic Trainer

Athletic Trainer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $47,370
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 22.7%

Athletic Trainers are experienced professionals who work in preventing, treating and diagnosing a variety of bone or muscle injuries or illnesses.

They specialize working for athletes and may work on or off the field or court.

Although the most successful Athletic Trainers work for a professional sports team, many Athletic Trainers can also find a variety of opportunities in different industries such as medical offices or schools.

Individuals who want to become an Athletic Trainer not only have a passion for sports, but may also have the ability and passion for treating sports related injuries.

Education Requirements to Become an Athletic Trainer

Individuals who want to become an Athletic Trainer need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.

However, many Athletic Trainers take the steps to acquire a graduate degree at the Master’s level.

In addition, Athletic Trainers will also need to seek licensing in the state they choose to work in.

Individuals who want to become an Athletic Trainer can choose a school that provides this degree at the Bachelor’s level.

For individuals who do not join a specific program, they can choose to focus on a health related major such as Kinesiology, Nutrition, Exercise Physiology or Biomechanics then apply for an Athletic Training program at the Master’s level.

Undergraduate Athletic Training programs will have a heavy emphasis on hands on learning in addition to traditional classroom instruction.

In addition to a Bachelor’s degree in a health related focus, individuals can seek training opportunities from internships or entry level positions in clinics.

Individuals pursuing a Master’s degree in Athletic Training can expect to take a variety of health related classes to prepare them for this field.

Typical classes include Pharmacology, Pathology and acute care.

In addition, depending on the college or university, a 5 year joint Bachelor’s and Master’s program may be available.

Lastly, individuals will need to take the steps to seek licensure in Athletic Training.

Although Licensing depends on the state an individual resides in, professional associations such as the National Athletic Trainer’s Association recommend licensing for these individuals.

Visit their website at NATA to learn more information regarding this profession as well as potential job opportunities.

Athletic Trainer Job Description

An Athletic Trainer is considered a health professional who works with individuals with sports related injuries.

Through their education, Athletic Trainers are trained to recognize, prevent and rehabilitate sports related injuries.

Some Athletic Trainers work under the supervision of a medical doctor or health care team and work in conjunction with these health care professionals to diagnose sports related injuries and provide treatment and rehabilitation.

They may also act as a liaison between a patient and their physician.

In addition, some Athletic Trainers may work with individual athletes or an entire sports organization and assist with the prevention of athletic injuries.

In addition, these professionals may also work medical centers and for a variety of schools including at the elementary, high school or collegiate level.

Athletic Trainers are experienced at diagnosing and treating a variety of injuries including muscle or bone injuries.

Athletic trainers working for a sports team will observe their patient’s on the field to identify any potential injuries.

They will perform evaluations for athletic trainings and provide first aid on any minor injuries.

Athletic Trainer Salary and Career Path

The annual median income for Athletic Trainers was $42,690 in 2012.

Exact wages will depend heavily on experience and the industry an Athletic Trainer works in.

Some industries, such as professional or amateur sports teams also require Athletic Trainers to work during evenings or weekends to accommodate for sporting events held during those times.

The job prospects for the Athletic Training profession look strong through the year 2022.

The projected growth rate for jobs is expected to be 21 percent which is considered faster than average when compared to other professions.

This projection comes from the recent demand for this type of service due to the awareness and the education of sports related injuries.

Individuals who are keenly aware of how the body works and have a fascination with sports would benefit from considering this profession as a career.

In addition, not only do the job prospects look strong through the end of the decade, some experienced Athletic Trainers may end up working on the sidelines for a professional sports team.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$67,760
New Hampshire$49,820
New Jersey$64,530
New Mexico$54,170
New York$63,110
North Carolina$49,260
North Dakota$50,170
Rhode Island$62,810
South Carolina$47,990
South Dakota$46,110
West Virginia$43,950

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $67,760.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $67,760
Massachusetts - $66,940
New Jersey - $64,530
New York - $63,110
Rhode Island - $62,810
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Athletic Trainers, OCC Code 29-9091, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an athletic trainer do?

Athletic trainers work with people of all ages (from children to professional athletes); they are highly qualified health care professionals whose main aim is to treat various injuries and medical conditions and provide preventative services.

The typical duties of an athletic trainer usually include providing first aid or emergency care; recognizing and evaluating injuries; applying protective devices (bandages, tapes, etc.); planning and implementing comprehensive programs to prevent injuries and illnesses; keeping records and writing reports, and so on.

The majority of athletic trainers work under the direction of a licensed physician.

An athletic trainer can work in secondary schools, in colleges, physicians’ offices, the military, with performing artists or for professional sports teams.

How much do athletic trainers make?

On average, an athletic trainer can make a little less than $48.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $31.000 and $73.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the client, the location, the sport, and so on.

Athletic trainers that work in Hawaii, California, and the District of Columbia, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level athletic trainer can earn around $15.00 per hour, while a top-level professional with plenty of experience can make $35.00 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become an athletic trainer?

You would have to earn a bachelor’s degree in athletic training (make sure that the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education), in case you want to become an athletic trainer.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

Aspiring athletic trainers have to pass the Board of Certification Exam (over $25).

To improve job perspectives, you should consider going for a master’s degree in athletic training (around $30.000 per year).

What is the demand for athletic trainers?

Between 2016 and 2026, the athletic trainer job market is expected to grow by 22.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a lot faster than the national average for all occupations in the United States.

Bear in mind that the competition in professional sports is extremely high.

The industry is mainly concentrated in New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

How long does it take to become an athletic trainer?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 2 years to acquire a master’s degree (in case you decide to go for one).

If you manage to gain experience while still at school, you will become more competitive in the job market (seek summer internships, for example).

After you have graduated with a degree in athletic training, you would have to pass the Board of Certification Exam (you can apply for the BOC exam during your final semester).

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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