Athletic Trainer Career Information

If you want to pursue a career as an athletic trainer, you might be interested in getting some information about this particular job and field of work. Approximately one-third of all athletic trainers work in the health care industry. In fact, if you are an athletic trainer, you will be recognized by the American Medical Association as an allied health professional. You will also be in a profession (the health care industry) where jobs are predicted to increase, but if you want to work for a sports team, you can expect a great deal of competition.

Education

According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, seven out of 10 athletic trainers, have either a master's degree or a PhD. At the very minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree in athletic training and as part of this program, you will take science and health-related courses like nutrition, human anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics. Besides your work in the classroom, you will also be training in clinical settings. You must then pass a board certification exam that includes both written questions and practical applications.

Once you have passed this test and become certified, you must continue taking medical-type classes and adhere to certain standards of practice in order to retain your certification. Also, if you are interested in a position in a high school program, you may need to get your teacher's certification. You'll need to check either with your individual school district or your state to see exactly what the requirements are.

Scope of Work/Basic Tasks

The main goal of the athletic trainer is to treat current injuries and prevent future ones. As an athletic trainer, you could be working with anyone from young athletes to mature industrial workers. Usually one of the first health care professionals on the scene when an injury occurs, an athletic trainer assesses the extent of an injury, usually in conjunction with a doctor, and then helps develop and implement a rehabilitation treatment plan.

Some of your tasks will include applying tape, bandages, and braces to injured or weak areas in order to prevent doing more damage. You will also have to educate people on precautions to take to avoid hurting themselves in the future. Sometimes you will have administrative responsibilities like keeping budgets, implementing policies, and documenting treatment plans. You will also have to be present for meetings with people like physicians and athletic directions to discuss business issues.

As part of your job, you might have to stand for long periods of time while working with a variety of medical equipment or machinery. You will also have to be prepared to walk, run, kneel, crawl, stoop, or crouch so you have to be fit and flexible.

Work schedule

Your work schedule will depend on where you are employed. If you work in a non-sports setting like a clinic or hospital, you could have a regular 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday schedule with weekends off. However, you might be asked to travel to other locations and do outreach work at schools, colleges, and local businesses.

On the other hand, if you happen to work in a sports setting, you will have to be present at practices and games, which often happen at night and on weekends, sometimes as many as 60 to 70 hours a week. And if you are lucky enough to get a job with a professional sports team, you will expect to be at training camps where you could work up to 12 hours a day.

Salary/Benefits

The majority of the approximately 15,000 athletic trainers work full-time, but their pay varies based on where they work and how much experience they have. In general, you can expect to earn between $20,000 and $55,000 a year with the median annual earnings being close to $35,000. You may also receive a stipend from your employer for continuing education classes along with other benefits like health care and vacation pay.

As with most jobs, you will experience times of stress as an athletic trainer, especially when you have to make quick decisions that affect the health and well being of individuals. But, in general, being an athletic trainer is a very rewarding career, especially when you can help people recover from serious injuries.