How to Become an Athletic Trainer

Written by Kate Lopaze

If you’re seeking an Allied Health career and feel more comfortable with sweat than blood, then athletic training might be the right path for you. Certified trainers work directly with clients to help them overcome injuries or get in shape on the road back to health. They develop exercise treatment plans and oversee exercise regimens to make sure clients (in a professional gym setting) and patients (in a medical setting) get back on their feet, get in shape, and maintain health.

The athletic training career at a glance:


The Day-to-Day

Athletic trainers may work in gyms or in medical centers. Whether they’re working with clients to establish and maintain a fitness routine or helping patients recover after a physical injury, they work closely with people. They may teach exercises and oversee workouts to make sure that patients are working safely and efficiently to maintain their health and well-being. Athletic trainers often work under the supervision of doctors, athletic directors, and coaches to implement training plans.

The Requirements

Athletic trainers typically have a bachelor’s degree in an accredited athletic training program or in another Allied Health field. Programs may also include hands-on clinical training in schools, hospitals, health clinics, or emergency rooms. Requirements (including certification) are set by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer.

For more information on accredited athletic training programs, check out the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

The Skills

Athletic trainers require a number of special skills and knowledge bases, including:

  • Injury assessment, evaluation, and treatment
  • Injury and illness pathology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Disability treatment and management
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Pharmacology
  • Risk management and injury prevention
  • Nutrition

In addition to medical and general health expertise, athletic trainers should have strong communication and teaching skills, as they work very closely with patients and clients.

The Pay

Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of certified athletic trainers is $43,370.

The Outlook

As more people turn to long-term healthcare management and non-medical intervention, the outlook for athletic trainers is pretty bright. Per the BLS, the field is expected to grow by more than 21% by 2022.

Interested? Apply here

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.