A Career as a Athletic Trainer

Career Goal - Athletic Trainer By: Brandon Goebel

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Career Overview

Athletic trainers help prevent and treat injuries in people who are physically active.

Athletic trainers work with athletes of all ages and sports, including:

  • High school sports teams
  • College sports teams
  • Professional sports teams
  • Individual athletes
  • Health clubs

Athletic trainers make sure athletes are in good shape and ready to play. Many of their tasks involve preventing injuries.

They show athletes how to exercise correctly and may lead a team through stretching exercises prior to each practice or game.

They suggest diets and exercises to improve athletes' strength. They also verify that players have a physical examination and are cleared to exercise or play.

Athletic trainers help coaches choose equipment that will prevent injuries such as concussions. They instruct athletes on the proper use of safety equipment.

Athletic trainers monitor athletes with minor injuries. For protection, they tape, wrap, or brace ankles, fingers, or other parts of the body before practices and games. After workouts, athletic trainers massage athletes' limbs to relieve soreness and strains.

When an athlete gets hurt, athletic trainers help determine how serious the injury is. They provide emergency first aid and may go with the athlete to the hospital. Athletic trainers confer with doctors and physical therapists to set up a therapy routine. They also work with the athlete, coach, and family to decide when the player can return to play.

Athletic trainers may also have some administrative duties. For example, they may meet with school administrators, the athletic director, or coaches to discuss budgets, training, and schedules.

Career Skills and Interests

Athletic trainers need to:


  • Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
  • Listen to others and ask questions.
  • Understand spoken information.
  • Speak so listeners understand the information.

Reason and Problem Solve

  • Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
  • Analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.
  • Combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions.

Manage Oneself, People, Time, and Things

  • Check how well one is learning or doing something.
  • Manage the time of self and others.
  • Go back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information without becoming confused.

Work with People

  • Be aware of others’ reactions and understand the possible causes.
  • Look for ways to help people.
  • Teach others how to do something.
  • Change behavior in relation to others’ actions.

Perceive and Visualize

  • Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.

Career Working Conditions

In a typical work setting, athletic trainers:

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Have constant contact with athletes, coaches, and health care professionals.
  • Sometimes encounter conflict situations in which athletes may be rude or upset.
  • Are responsible for the work outcomes of others.
  • Are greatly responsible for the health and safety of athletes.

Physical Work Conditions

  • Mostly work indoors if they work at a gym or indoor training facility.
  • Mostly work outdoors when they work at athletic fields, sporting events, practices, or job sites.
  • Are exposed to disease and infections on a daily basis when working with athletes. To protect themselves, they wear gloves when giving first aid.
  • Work very near people. They provide first aid, massage, and care for athletes and other clients.

Work Performance

  • Must be exact in their work. Errors could cause athletes to get hurt.
  • Rarely consult a supervisor before making a decision. When treating injuries, it is important to act fast.
  • Set most of their own goals and tasks without consulting a supervisor.
  • Must often meet strict deadlines such as training and game times.


  • May work full time or part time. Full-time work is most common.
  • May work days, evenings, or weekends.
  • May travel for long periods of time if working for a college or professional team.
  • May work long hours during sport seasons.

Career Wages and Outlook

Wages vary depending on the education and experience of the athletic trainer. Wages also vary by employer. Athletic trainers who work for university or professional sports teams tend to earn the most.

Full-time athletic trainers often receive benefits. These usually include paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance.

Wages for Minnesota average at about $40,310 per year.

Wages for the United States average at about $42,790 per year.

Major employers:

  • Colleges and universities
  • Gyms and athletic clubs
  • Elementary and secondary schools

Demand for athletic trainers is expected to be high due to several factors. First, as people become more aware of sports-related injuries at a young age, demand for athletic trainers is expected to increase in schools and youth sports. Second, the growing population of active middle-age and elderly people will increase the demand for trainers. Third, many companies are hiring athletic trainers to help reduce injuries on the job. Trainers can show employees how to lift items correctly help to create training programs.

Although job growth is strong for athletic trainers it is a small occupation and opportunities will be limited. Athletic trainers with many years of experience will have the best opportunities.

Career Related Occupations

The occupations listed below may have similar work duties, use similar skills, be in the same career ladder, have a similar level of education, or be related in another way.

  • Chiropractor
  • Coaches and Scouts
  • Physical Therapists
  • Physician Assistants
  • Public Health Educators

Program Of Study - Athletic Training

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Program Overview

Athletic training programs prepare people to prevent and treat sports-related injuries under the supervision of a medical doctor.

Athletic training programs include topics such as:

  • Prevention and treatment of sport injuries
  • First aid and emergency care
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Sports psychology
  • Legal and ethical issues

Several community colleges and other 2-year schools offer associate degree programs in athletic training. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree, students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in athletic training. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Many colleges and universities offer graduate degrees in athletic training. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Admission to a college does not always guarantee admission to its athletic training program. Some schools require you to first complete several prerequisite courses and maintain good grades before you can apply and be accepted into their programs. These courses typically include at least some of the following:

  • English Composition
  • First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • General Biology
  • Introduction to Athletic Training
  • Introduction to Human Nutrition
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Personal Health
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Algebra

Additional requirements may include:

  • Clinical observation (shadowing) of athletic trainers
  • CPR certification
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal interview
  • Physical exam

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Fitness and Conditioning Activities
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Health and Fitness
  • Health Education
  • Healthcare Occupations
  • Healthcare Sciences Work Experience
  • Introduction to Business
  • Lifetime Fitness Education
  • Physical Education
  • Psychology
  • Safety and First Aid
  • Sports Physiology
  • Weight Training

Program Typical Course Work

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Cardiovascular Testing
  • Care and Prevention
  • Clinical Skills in Athletic Training
  • Exercise and Weight Control
  • Healthful Living
  • Injury Evaluation and Rehabilitation
  • Kinesiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Organization and Administration of Athletic Healthcare Programs
  • Pharmacology and Pathology in Athletic Training
  • Physical Fitness
  • Physiology of Exercise
  • Recognizing and Evaluating Athletic Injuries
  • Rehabilitation Techniques
  • Sports Law
  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Training Room Techniques

In addition, you usually have to take general education courses in areas such as writing, general physical and life sciences, and math.

Course work in graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree varies from program to program. These programs tend to give you a choice of focuses, such as education, research, or administration. Whichever specific area you choose determines the course work you will have to take. Generally, the courses emphasize research and more advanced clinical techniques.

The typical outline of the curriculums in graduate programs is as follows:

  • Required courses
  • Additional clinical practicum
  • Thesis

All programs include a clinical practicum in their curriculum. These are hands-on opportunities to relate the things you have learned to real-life clinical settings. You get to practice and sharpen your skills under the supervision of an experienced athletic trainer.

You might work with college athletic programs and provide on-the-field coverage of athletic events, first aid, and treatment. Or you might work in a recreational sports office, helping instruct athletes how to prevent and manage injuries.

Related Programs

  • Exercise Physiology
  • Massage Therapy
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physiology
  • Pre-Health Services
  • Therapy

Schools that Offer my Program of Study

  • Lake Superior College
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Minnesota State University, Moorhead
  • St. Cloud State University
  • Winona State University
  • Bethel University
  • Concordia University, St. Paul
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Saint Johns's University
  • University of Northwestern- St. Paul

College Choice: Minnesota State University - Mankato

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College Info

Size and Location
  • Minnesota State University is in Mankato Mn. There are about 13,650 undergraduate students that attend this college.

Admission Requirements

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Application must be submitted
  • ACT
  • Top half of your class or 21 on ACT test

College Expenses

  • Tuition $7,574
  • Books and supplies $500-$900
  • Other required expenses $2,052
  • Room and Board $7,368

Financial Aid

  • Summit FAFSA by March 15
  • Scholarships in Academics, art, special achievements, and special characteristics.


  • There are 5 residence hall complexes-room and Board or room only or board only
  • Housing application has a rolling deadline.


  • Basketball

Information Interview

1. Briefly record your thoughts and feelings about the workplace and the person you just visited.

My interview went good I really enjoyed it. I really learn't a lot of useful information that I did not know before. The workplace seems like it would be a pretty good fit because of the fact that I would really like to stay around sports when I find my career. The person I interviewed was Mr. Randy Palmer and he was a great person to interview because he really knew what he was talking about.

2. What did you learn in the interview?

I learned a lot during the interview including that I learned what your typical work day will be like and I learn't about all the stuff you will do like on a trip that you might take with your job including sporting events.

3. What did you like? What didn't you like?

There was many things that I liked about the interview including that he really went in to detail on a lot of the questions which made it easier for me to understand the work style of athletic training. If there was one thing that I didn't really like was that I didn't really get any other point of views, but that is something that expected going into it.

4. Did you uncover concerns or advantages to this occupation?

I uncovered something that I thought was pretty nice is that you would get to travel with the team if you would like and then you would be getting in free to the sport and then watching the game.

5. What advice did you receive?

He said that I should be taking as many college prep classes as I can an also that I should do as much volunteer work as possible as soon as I can.

6. Did you discover another occupation to explore?

No I did not discover any other careers to explore.

7. How was the work environment?

The work environment was pretty much how I thought It would be including that It can be anywhere from a school to working in the military.

8. Do you think you would be happy in this occupation?

Yes I think that I would enjoy doing this occupation because I get to be around the sports I love to watch and just to stay in touch with everything.

Plans to Reach My Goal

There are many things that I can do to gain experience in this career including...

  • Apprenticeship
  • Career Networking
  • Informational Interviews
  • Internships
  • Job Shadowing
  • Part Time jobs
  • Service Learning
  • Student Employment
  • Volunteer Experiences

Internships are when you go and you kind of like job shadow someone that does the job that you want to do. You probably will not get paid for doing this, it is basically for the experience and it is a great way to get experience. This is a good thing for me to do because it could really help me see what I will being doing on the job and whether or not I will truly like what they do.

Job Shadowing is when you go out and you just spend a day or two with an expert in the career field. You can watch and see what he or she does throughout the whole day and see what they do with there time and a good chance to see if it really interests you. This would be a good thing for me because it will help me get a good grip on what the job day for an athletic trainer is really like.

Volunteer Experiences could be anywhere from helping out your school nurse or just helping out the school athletic trainer. I think that voluneering for multiple different things is a good thing thing for any job field but in the medical field I think it is even more important because of the fact it helps you see what you all will be doing and help you get with the program.

Informational Interviews are when you go out and interview people that are in the career field are are trying to get into it also. This is pretty similar to Career Networking when I say that it is a good way for me to see what I should be looking for when going out and getting a job.

These are just some of the things that I can do to help myself gain experience in this work field and I think that it is very important for me to try to do as much of these things as possible to increase my chances of getting a job as an athletic trainer.