14 Pros and Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer

If you’re thinking about becoming an athletic trainer providing hands-on healing support for athletes and wondering about the pros and cons of working in the field, this is the guide for you! 

Who Are Athletic Trainers?

Today’s Athletic Trainers are highly skilled professionals who work in fitness centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and educational environments.

Their primary role is to help athletes recover from injuries to muscles and bones and to restore overall physical fitness. 

The Role of Today’s Athletic Trainer

The role of today’s athletic trainers involves working closely with athletic departments, teams, and educational institutions to rehabilitate and restore athletes.

Athletic trainers are required to have the minimum necessary education, which can include a bachelor’s degree, certification, and state licensure, to work as independent professionals or as members of athletic teams and provide hands-on patient care. 

Athletic Trainer Salary – US 

The BLS reports that America’s athletic trainers make salaries that average at just under $60,000.00 per year. 

7 Pros of Being an Athletic Trainer 

Now that you understand the role of an athletic trainer and what their average annual earnings are in the US, dive in to learn about some of the pros and cons of working as an athletic trainer.

The breakdown of the pros and cons of being an athletic trainer below can help you decide if pursuing this career path is the right move for you!

Pro #1. – Rewarding Careers Make an Impact

Athletic trainers directly impact the lives of athletes, their clients, and the community.

This notable impact can equate to a rewarding career for trainers, who are often the first on the scene for sports injuries at local athletic events. 

Pro #2. – Dynamic Work Environment

Today’s athletic trainers are in demand in various work environments.

They work as crucial staff in high school and college athletic departments, as members of professional sports teams, and in sports medicine clinics, fitness centers, and hospitals. 

Pro #3. – Flexible Scheduling 

Athletic trainers who work as independent contractors can enter into contracts to work their desired schedules.

Those working in clinical settings can often set their schedules to coincide with that of patients and staff members, resulting in flexible schedules that accommodate their lives. 

Pro #4. – Team Collaboration Makes Work Worthwhile

Many opportunities for team collaboration, networking, and support can make the life of an athletic trainer easier.

Trainers who establish clear communication with team members become part of networks that provide comprehensive care for athletes, allowing trainers to develop better treatment plans for athletic injuries. 

Pro #5. – Continuous Learning Opportunities Keep Trainers on Their Toes

Working as an AT provides numerous opportunities for continuous learning, where trainers enhance and hone their skills.

Continuing education and professional development opportunities equip trainers with advanced knowledge, skills, and techniques needed to keep pace with the industry—trainers who invest in continuous learning position themselves for advanced roles, promotions, and leadership roles. 

Pro #6. – Opportunities for Lifelong Relationship Building

Working side by side with athletes, coaches, teams, colleagues, and institutions allows ATs to build lasting relationships when treating athletic injuries and nursing key team players back to optimal health.

Trainers have the unique opportunity to form lasting bonds with players and teams during treatment as they establish trusting relationships that lead to better treatment and care. 

Pro #7. – Athletic Trainers Have Tons of Transferrable Skills 

Today’s Athletic Trainers are skilled problem solvers capable of assessing complex situations, identifying root causes, and developing effective treatment plans when caring for their patients. 

Professional trainers looking to make career changes have a set of transferrable skills that can help them land work in a variety of related professions and industries where their allied health skills for applying bandages, treating muscle and bone injuries, and dressing wounds can translate into higher paying and more prestigious health care careers. 

7 Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer 

Con #1. – Limited Advancement Opportunities

Athletic trainers may need help establishing themselves in a highly competitive field.

This competitive landscape can make securing advancement opportunities nearly impossible for some trainers who find that they are unable to stand out and differentiate themselves from more well-known trainers.

Trainers who are unable to differentiate themselves from the crowd may have a hard time finding employment and landing jobs in the industry they seek. 

Con #2. – Administrative Tasks Required 

Trainers can often find themselves buried in mountains of paperwork as they maintain patient treatment files and records and try to juggle completing paperwork with the hands-on tasks required for treatment and patient care.

Some trainers may feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork and administrative processes necessary to work as independent trainers.

Trainers are also required to earn the necessary credentials for working in the field and to earn continuing education credits to maintain their licenses in most states. 

Con #3. – Irregular Hours

Some trainers are required to work irregular hours according to the terms of their employment agreements.

Trainers who work odd hours, including evenings, nights, and weekends, can experience a sense of disrupted work-life balance due to a lack of flexible scheduling options for treating patients.

Some trainers are required to work grueling schedules to keep pace with sporting events and teams that can conflict with their needs for personal time away from work. 

Con #4. – Risk of Injury 

Being susceptible to personal injury is a daily reality for ATs, whose primary role involves preventing and treating athletic injuries for their patients.

ATs carry out physically demanding tasks as they assist patients with rehabilitation exercises.

Repetitive motion injuries and sustaining injuries during patient transport are common. Athletic trainers can easily sustain physical injuries during the course of their work.

Injuries can cause them to miss time from work and to have to live with chronic pain as they wait for their own wounds to heal. 

Con #5. – Emotional Stress

Working with patients who are in debilitated states and in severe pain can take an emotional toll on athletic trainers who work closely with their patients.

Trainers can also be confronted with high levels of pressure to perform when dealing with high-profile patients whose teammates put undue stress and anxiety on trainers to “heal” them.

Dealing with high levels of emotional stress and unrealistic healthcare demands from eager athletes and teams can place undue stress on athletic trainers who are sometimes expected to work miracles in healing wounded athletes ready to return to the field. 

Con #6. – Physically Demanding Role

People who work as trainers spend a great deal of time carrying out physically demanding tasks as they treat athletic injuries for their patients.

Trainers can stand for hours during athletic practices, games, and sporting events as they stand by in case of injuries.

They are also required to lift, carry, and move athletes and treatment equipment and physically respond to athletic emergencies in real time.

Trainers are required to regularly lift, carry, push, and pull people, equipment, and objects during the course of their workday. 

Con #7. – Job Insecurity

Some athletic trainers can experience job instability when they work for organizations on a contracted basis or when they are subjected to budget constraints and staffing cuts.

Uncertainty about employment during blackout periods or working as seasonal employees can leave some trainers with an ever-present sense of anxiety about their careers.

Constant worry about finding or keeping a job can lead to stress and anxiety for non-working trainers. 

14 Pros and Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer– Summary Table

7 Pros of Being an Athletic Trainer7 Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer
Rewarding Careers Make an ImpactLimited Advancement Opportunities
Dynamic Work EnvironmentAdministrative Tasks Required
Flexible SchedulingIrregular Hours
Team Collaboration Makes Work WorthwhileRisk of Injury
Continuous Learning Opportunities Keep Trainers on Their ToesEmotional Stress
Opportunities for Lifelong Relationship BuildingPhysically Demanding Role
Athletic Trainers Have Tons of Transferrable SkillsJob Insecurity

Should You Become an Athletic Trainer?

Now that you’ve seen both the upsides and downsides of becoming an athletic trainer, you’re one step closer to deciding if this career is the right one for you.

The best way to determine if taking on the role of athletic trainer is a good fit for you is to do more research about the career.

Learn about the daily duties and expectations for today’s trainers and decide if these match your current career goals.

Assess your current career goals related to gaining the necessary education and credentials needed to work as a trainer.

Finally, consider your answers to the following questions as you continue researching and learning more about starting a career as an athletic trainer.  

Questions to Consider: 

Would you like to make a direct impact on athletes’ lives by providing treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation for injuries? 

Are you interested in working in a diverse work setting that can include indoor or outdoor work regardless of the season?

Are you physically able to take on a demanding role that requires hands-on patient care and completing administrative tasks?

If you find that starting a new career as an athletic trainer is in the cards for you, reach out to local and online athletic trainer programs offered by local colleges, universities, and workforce development programs to begin your education and certification to work as a licensed trainer in your state. 

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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