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Athletic Trainer: How To Make Your Passion Your Career

How to become an athletic trainer

WHAT IS ATHLETIC TRAINING?

Vince Lombardi quote-Become an athletic trainer

Athletic training is a comprehensive allied healthcare profession that covers the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of chronic and acute injuries, as well as certain medical conditions. Athletic training has been recognized as a healthcare profession since 1991 by the American Medical Association (AMA). The five listed domains of athletic training are injury and illness prevention and wellness promotion, examination, assessment, and diagnosis, immediate and emergency care, therapeutic intervention, health care administration and professional responsibility.

Athletic trainers are prominent members of the medical team within multiple professional settings. Typically, in the event of an injury, the athletic trainer is the first one to respond to the scene. They collaborate with physicians and other healthcare providers to discuss the best treatment option path to follow for their patient.


YOU DO WHAT?

Anyone, from any age and background, can be under the care of an athletic trainer. Athletic trainers specialize in the prevention and treatment of bone and muscle diseases and injuries.

  • Tape, bandage, brace application to injuries
  • Injury recognition and evaluation
  • First aid and emergency care
  • Develop rehab plans for patients
  • Fulfill patient treatment plans
  • Create and implement preventative programs for sports teams
  • Keep detailed patient records and reports
  • Educate and inform public about safety measures to take to prevent injuries
  • Meetings with medical teams

ARE YOU THE RIGHT TYPE?

Tommy Lasorda quote-How to start a career as an athletic trainer

Athletic trainers need more than just degrees and certifications to ensure success in their chosen career. They need to possess certain personal qualities. Sure, some of them can be learned, but sometimes they just are part of the whole person:

  • Interpersonal skills: One of the essential qualities of a great athletic trainer is the ability to get along with everybody, from the patient to the medical team. They know how to listen without interrupting. And, they know how to effectively communicate. Successful athletic trainers know how to create and maintain positive rapport.
  • Decisive: Often, an athletic trainer may find themselves first responders at the scene of an injury. They are the ones that have to think quick and do the initial decision-making. A good athletic trainer has the confidence to be decisive keeping in mind that their decisions directly impact the patient’s potential outcome.
  • Empathetic: Working as an athletic trainer, you are in contact with people in varying amounts of pain. Keeping that fact in mind while treating the patient is imperative.
  • Detail-oriented: To make sure the patient is progressing positively, athletic trainers must keep track of and notice everything so that it’s documented. They also need to pay attention to ensure they are using the right treatment or if they need to adjust accordingly.

HOW TO BECOME AN ATHLETIC TRAINER

To work as an athletic trainer, you must have at least a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from an accredited educational institution. The program’s accreditation should come from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Graduating from a non-accredited program could prevent you from being eligible for certification, which would negatively impact your hireability.

  • A Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training will include course subjects such as the science of human movement, first aid and emergency care, anatomy and physiology, and injury and illness prevention. The hands-on clinical portion will usually be supervised by a highly experienced athletic trainer. It takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree if you attend college full time.
  • A Master’s of Science in Athletic Training has two different programs. For those who didn’t receive a Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Training which would be more of an entry level program. The other is the advanced masters for those who received the BA in Athletic Training and have the Athletic Training Certificate (ATC). Classes in this program will include higher level courses, athletic training administration, therapeutic exercise, and educational research statistics. An additional two years of study is all it takes to get a Master’s of Science in Athletic Training.

THE COST OF BECOMING AN ATHLETIC TRAINER

tuition guide which covers many colleges and universities around the country that have athletic training programs.

When looking at college tuition, you have to also keep in mind that there are other costs in addition to the tuition. For example, room and board, books, class supplies, and other living expenses. To offset tuition, financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans are available. To find out the first steps to take to get financial aid, please check out this article.

There are quite a few scholarships available to students pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree for athletic training:

  • Jack Cramer Scholarship application is due in December of each year. This scholarship is awarded to a high school senior who is planning on pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Training.
  • Tylenol Future Care Scholarships has been giving scholarships to students heading into healthcare professions. Makes sense that the makers of pain relief is helping those whose dream is to relieve the pain of others. They’ve given over 8 million dollars since they started the scholarship over 20 years ago.
  • American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. They offer many scholarships for students starting their educational path toward sports medicine and exercise science, which includes athletic training.

WHAT YOU'LL EARN AS AN AT

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual salary for athletic trainers is $45,630. Entry-level athletic trainers will earn an average of $30,300 while the top 10% will make over $69K on average per year. Most athletic trainers work full-time positions. Athletic trainers working with sports teams may have irregular hours and may have to travel often.

Top Paying Industries

Industry

Annual salary

Elementary and Secondary Schools

$56,520

Spectator Sports

$56,180

Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events

$55,000

Management of Companies and Enterprises

$51,170

Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations

$50,590


Top Paying States

State

Annual Salary

District of Columbia

$67,500

New Jersey

$59,180

Connecticut

$57,140

Nevada

$57,110

Texas

$53,620


JOBS SHOULD BE PLENTIFUL

Through 2026, the job outlook for athletic trainers is looking to be fantastic with a 22 percent expected growth. Due to all the research being conducted on the effects of concussions, more athletic trainers are being employed at sports sites, public schools, and anywhere sports teams compete. Also, the aging population can lead to more personal injuries that require the expertise of an athletic trainer. Athletic trainers who have a degree from an accredited school, along with the proper certifications from the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers will be more likely to find employment.

Industries With Highest Rate of Employment

Industry

Salary

Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools

$48,020

Offices of Other Health Practitioners

$43,530

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

$46,580

Other Amusement and Recreation Industries

$46,680

Elementary and Secondary Schools

$56,520


States With Highest Rate of Employment

State

Salary

Texas

$53,620

Pennsylvania

$44,900

California

$49,020

New York

$47,220

Ohio

$46,460


CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS STATE-BY-STATE

Certification is required for athletic trainers. Requirements for certification varies by state. There are strict guidelines that must be adhered to in order to keep their certification active.

Contact:
Alabama Board of Athletic Trainers
PO Box 243011
Montgomery, AL 36124
Phone: (334) 264-1929
Website
Contact:
P.O Box 110806
Juneau, AK 99811-0806
Phone: (907) 465-2580
Website

Contact:
Arizona Board of Athletic Training
4205 North 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Phone: (602) 589-6337
Website
Contact:
Arkansas State Board of Athletic Training
9 Shackleford Plaza, Ste. 3
Little Rock, AR 72211
Phone: (501) 683-4076
Website

No athletic training regulation or contact information at this time
Contact:
Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Registrations
1560 Broadway, Ste. 1350
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 894-7855
Website
Contact:
Examining Board of Physical Therapy & Athletic Trainers
Division of Professional Regulation
Cannon Bldg, Suite 203, 861 Silver Lake Blvd.
Dover, DE 19904
Phone: (302) 744-4500
Website

No contact information at this time
Contact:
Department of Health Board of Athletic Trainers
4052 Bald Cypress Way
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3258
Phone: (850) 245-4444X3463
Email: MQA.AthleticTraining@flhealth.gov
Website
Contact:
Georgia Board of Athletic Trainers
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, GA 31217-3805
Phone: (478) 207-2440
Website

Contact:
DCCA- PVL
PO Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801
Phone: (808) 586-2694
Email: at@dcca.hawaii.gov
Website
Contact:
State Board of Medicine
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720
Phone: (208) 327-7000
Email: info@bom.idaho.gov
Website
Contact:
Illinois Department of Professional Regulation
320 W. Washington, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786
Phone: (217) 782-9405
Website
Contact:
Indiana Athletic Trainers Board
402 W. Washington St. Rm #W072
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 234-3022
Website
Contact:
Iowa Board of Athletic Training
Lucas State Office Bldg. 5th Floor
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0075
Phone: (515) 281-4422
Website
Contact:
State Board of Healing Arts
800 SW Jackson
Lower Level - Suite A
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: (888) 886-7205
Website
Contact:
Kentucky Board of medical Licensure
310 Whittington Parkway, Ste. 1B
Louisville, KY 40222
Phone: (502) 429-7932
Website
Contact:
State Board of Medical Examiners
PO Box 30250
New Orleans, LA 70190-0250
Phone: (504) 568-6823
Website

Contact:
Athletic Trainer Program
35 State Houston Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0035
Phone: (207) 624-8624
Email: athletic.trainers@maine.gov
Website
Contact:
Maryland Board of Physicians
4201 Patterson Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215-0095
Phone: (410) 764-4775
Website
Contact:
Division of Professional Licensure
1000 Washington Street, Suite 710
Boston, MA 02118
Phone: (617) 727-3071
Website
Contact:
Athletic Trainer Board
Michigan Bureau of Health Professions
PO Box 30670
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: (517) 335-0918
Website
Contact:
MN Board of Medical Practice
University Park Plaza
2829 University Avenue, SE #500
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3246
Phone: (612) 548-2140
Website
Contact:
Mississippi State Department of Health
Professional Licensure
PO Box 1700
Jackson, MS 39215-1700
Phone: (601) 364-7360
Website
Contact:
State of Missouri
State Board of Healing Arts
PO Box 4
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: (573) 751-0098
Website
Contact:
Montana Board of Athletic Trainers
PO Box 200513
301 South Park, 4th Floor
Helena, MT 59620-0513
Phone: (406) 841-2369
Website

Contact:
Department of HHS Regulation & Licensure
PO Box 94986
Lincoln, NE 68509-4986
Phone: (402) 471-4914
Website
Contact:
Nevada State Board of Athletic Trainers
PO Box 34296
Reno, NV 89533-4296
Phone: (775) 787-2636
Website

Contact:
Office of Allied Health Professionals
Philbrook Building
121 South Fruit Street
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: (603) 271-8389
Website

Contact:
State Board of Medical Examiners
Athletic Training Advisory Committee
140 East Front Street, 3rd Floor PO Box 183
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 826-7100
Website
Contact:
New Mexico Athletic Trainers Practice Board
2550 Cerrillos Road
Toney Anaya Building, Second Floor
Santa, FE NM 87505
Phone: (505) 476-4622
Website
Contact:
Office of the Professions
Division of Professional Licensing Services
Athletic Training Unit
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234-1000
Phone: (518) 474-3817X270
Website
Contact:
N.C. Board of Athletic Training Examiners
PO Box 10769
Raleigh, NC 27605
Phone: (919) 821-4980
Website

Contact:
North Dakota Board of Athletic Trainers
PO Box 5545
Fargo, ND 58105-5545
Phone: (701) 417-6171
Website

Contact:
Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, & Athletic Trainers Board
77 South High Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
Phone: (614) 995-5323
Website

Contact:
State Board of medical Licensure and Supervision
Athletic Trainers Advisory Committee
PO Box 18256
Oklahoma City, OK 73154-0256
Phone: (405) 962-1400
Website
Contact:
Oregon health Licensing Office
Board of Athletic Trainers
1430 Tandem Ave NE
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: (503) 378-8667X4307
Website

Contact:
State Board of Medicine
Po Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
Phone: (717) 783-1400
Website

Contact:
RI Department of Health
Athletic Trainers Board of Licensure
3 Capitol Hill - Room 103
Providence, RI 02908
Phone: (401) 222-1392
Contact:
SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
Division of EMS and Trauma
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Phone: (803) 545-4204
Website

Contact:
South Dakota Board of Medical & Osteopathic Examiners
101 North Main Avenue, Suite 301
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Phone: (605) 367-7781
Website
Contact:
Tennessee Board of Athletic Trainers
665 Mainstream Drive, 2nd Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (800) 778-4123X25135
Website
Contact:
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Athletic Trainers
PO Box 12057
Austin, TX 78711
Phone: (800) 803-9202
Website

Contact:
Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing
State of Utah
PO Box 146741
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-6741
Website
Contact:
Vermont Secretary of State
Office of Professional Regulation
89 Main Street, 3rd Floor
Montpelier, VT 05620-3402
Phone: (802) 828-3228
Website

Contact:
Virginia Board of Medicine
Perimeter Center
9960 Maryland Drive, Suite 300
Henrico, VA 23233-1463
Phone: (804) 367-4613
Website
Contact:
Health Systems Quality Assurance
Customer Service Center
PO Box 47865
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 236-4843
Website
Contact:
WV Board of Physical Therapy
101 Dee Drive
Charleston, WV 25311
Phone: (304) 558-0367
Website
Contact:
Department of Safety and Professional Services
Division of Professional Credentialing
PO Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708-8935
Phone: (608) 266-2112
Website
Contact:
Wyoming Board of Athletic Training
2001 Capitol Avenue Rm 104
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Phone: (307) 7777788
Website