Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. They work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes.
The median annual wage of athletic trainers was $41,600 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10% earned less than $25,750, and the top 10% earned more than $64,390.
Apply protective or injury-preventive devices such as tape, bandages, and braces
Recognize and evaluate injuries
Provide first aid or emergency care
Develop and carry out rehabilitation programs for injured athletes
Plan and implement comprehensive programs to prevent injury and illness from athletics
Do administrative tasks, such as keeping records and writing reports on injuries and treatment programs.
Athletic trainers are usually one of the first healthcare providers on the scene when injuries occur. They work under the direction of a licensed physician and with other healthcare providers. They often discuss specific injuries and treatment options or evaluate and treat patients as directed by a physician. Some athletic trainers meet with a team physician or consulting physician regularly.
An athletic trainer’s administrative responsibilities may include regular meetings with an athletic director or other administrative officer to deal with budgets, purchasing, policy implementation, and other business-related issues.
For most jobs, athletic trainers need a bachelor's degree in athletic training from an accredited college or university; however, master’s degrees are also common. All programs have both classroom and clinical components. Courses include science and health-related courses, such as anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and biomechanics.
Athletic trainers may need a higher degree to be eligible for some positions, especially trainers in colleges and universities, or to increase their advancement opportunities. High school students interested in athletic trainer programs should take courses in anatomy, physiology, and physics.
Many athletic trainers work in educational facilities, such as secondary schools and colleges. Others may work in physicians' offices or for professional sports teams. Some athletic trainers work in rehabilitation and therapy clinics, in the military, or with performing artists. They may spend much of their time working outdoors on sports fields in all types of weather.