Career Development

What Does an Athletic Trainer Do?

Find out what an athletic trainer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an athletic trainer.

Athletic trainers are healthcare professionals who work with athletes of all ages to prevent, treat and rehabilitate injuries. They commonly work in high schools, colleges and professional sports leagues, but they may also be found in other settings such as private physical therapy practices or hospitals.

Athletic trainers must have a strong knowledge base in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and other related fields. They must also be able to effectively communicate with their patients and coaches about injury prevention strategies and rehabilitation plans.

Athletic Trainer Job Duties

Athletic trainers typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Creating treatment plans for each patient based on their diagnosis and goals for treatment
  • Communicating with physicians about patient progress, setbacks, or other concerns
  • Participating in team meetings to develop conditioning programs or discuss injury prevention techniques
  • Performing initial assessments of patients to determine their fitness level and identifying risks to their health during exercise activities
  • Supervising the implementation of treatment plans designed by medical staff members
  • Providing emergency care to athletes who have been injured during practices or games
  • Providing care for minor injuries such as sprains or muscle strains using ice packs, bandages, or massage therapy
  • Participating in interdisciplinary medical teams with physicians, physical therapists, equipment managers, nurses, and other medical professionals to provide comprehensive care to injured athletes
  • Communicating with coaches, staff, parents, and other stakeholders to keep them informed about an athlete’s progress during recovery from an injury or illness

Athletic Trainer Salary & Outlook

Athletic trainers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the size of the team or organization they work for, and the geographic location of their job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $76,500 ($36.78/hour)

The employment of athletic trainers is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

As people continue to lead more active lives, athletic trainers will be needed to treat injuries and illnesses that occur while playing sports. In addition, an aging population may increase demand for athletic trainers because older adults are more likely than younger people to sustain injuries.

Related: In-Depth Athletic Trainer Salary Guide

Athletic Trainer Job Requirements

Athletic trainers typically need to have the following:

Education: Athletic trainers are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, kinesiology or a related field. These programs typically include courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry and mathematics.

Many athletic trainers pursue a master’s degree in athletic training to increase their job opportunities and earning potential. A master’s degree takes one to two years to complete and includes coursework and a practicum.

Training & Experience: Most athletic trainers will complete a clinical internship as part of their degree program. During this internship, they will work under the supervision of an experienced athletic trainer in a clinical setting. They will learn how to assess and treat patients, as well as how to document their work.

Athletic trainers can also receive on-the-job training from their employers. During this training, they will learn about the organization’s policies and procedures, as well as the equipment and supplies they will need to treat patients.

Certifications & Licenses: After getting a bachelor’s degree, you must pass the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer exam (BOC) to work as an athletic trainer. This certification is the industry standard and is required in nearly every state.

Athletic Trainer Skills

Athletic trainers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is another important skill for athletic trainers to have, as they often need to explain their treatment plans and answer questions from their clients. They also need to communicate with other medical professionals to ensure their clients receive the best treatment possible.

Time management: As an athletic trainer, you may have multiple clients to see throughout the day. Having strong time management skills can help you ensure you provide each client with the attention they need. This can also help you ensure you complete all of your duties at work, such as checking in with patients, filling out paperwork and attending meetings.

Problem-solving: A large part of an athletic trainer’s job is to help their clients overcome physical obstacles. They need to be able to identify the source of the problem and develop a plan to overcome it. This can include modifying workout routines, adjusting the intensity of a workout or changing the workout environment.

Critical thinking: When working with clients, an athletic trainer needs to be able to think critically to assess a situation and determine the best course of action. For example, if a client is experiencing pain during a workout, an athletic trainer might need to think through the situation to determine if the client should continue the workout or if they need to stop.

Observation: Observation skills are important for athletic trainers because they use them to assess their clients’ health and fitness levels. They use observation skills to notice changes in their clients’ bodies and to determine if they’re making progress. Observation skills are also important for keeping their clients safe. They use them to notice if a client is having an adverse reaction to a workout or if they’re not following safety procedures.

Athletic Trainer Work Environment

Athletic trainers typically work in well-lit and ventilated areas, such as locker rooms, offices, and training rooms in gyms, arenas, or stadiums. They also travel with teams to sporting events. Because they work with athletes who are often injured, they must be able to handle the sight of blood and other bodily fluids. In addition, they must be able to lift and move heavy equipment, such as weights and exercise machines. Athletic trainers typically work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and they may be on call 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies.

Athletic Trainer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how athletic trainers work. Athletic trainers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of the Personal Trainer

The rise of the personal trainer is a trend that is quickly gaining popularity in the fitness industry. This is due to the fact that people are becoming more interested in working out on their own, and they are looking for personalized training programs that will help them reach their goals.

As the demand for personal trainers increases, athletic trainers will need to develop the skills necessary to provide this type of service. They can do this by attending training seminars and workshops, as well as by networking with other professionals in the field.

More Athletes Will Use Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers are increasingly being used by athletes at all levels to help prevent injuries and improve performance. As this trend continues to grow, athletic trainers will need to develop new skills and techniques to stay ahead of the competition.

In order to be successful in this field, athletic trainers will need to be able to work with a variety of different athletes and understand the needs of each individual team. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with coaches and parents in order to create a positive environment for everyone involved.

Faster Recovery Times

As athletes recover from injuries faster, athletic trainers will need to adapt their practices to meet the needs of their clients.

One way that athletic trainers can do this is by developing closer relationships with doctors and other medical professionals. By doing so, they can ensure that their clients receive the best possible care during their recovery process. In addition, athletic trainers can also focus on improving their communication skills so that they can better communicate with their clients about their progress.

How to Become an Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers have a rewarding career path that can take them in many different directions. They can specialize in a particular sport, work with a specific age group of athletes, or even move into administration. No matter what direction they choose, athletic trainers should always keep learning and expanding their skills.

Athletic trainers can also help athletes stay healthy by providing advice on nutrition, rest, and other lifestyle factors. They can also refer athletes to other professionals, such as physical therapists, if necessary.

Related: How to Write an Athletic Trainer Resume

Advancement Prospects

Athletic trainers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited athletic training program before they can enter the profession. Some states also require athletic trainers to be licensed or certified.

Athletic trainers typically advance to positions of greater responsibility, such as head athletic trainer, clinical instructor, or rehabilitation coordinator. Some athletic trainers open their own practices, or become consultants to businesses and industry. With additional education, athletic trainers may become physical therapists or physicians.

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