An athletic trainer is a certified health professional that works with athletes and specializes in the treatment and prevention of athletic injury. Athletic trainers’ clients can be recreational athletes – both amateur and professional, individuals who are suffering from musculoskeletal injuries, people who want to condition or enhance fitness performance, etc. They may be employed by schools or colleges, medical facilities, community facilities, gyms, a private setting, workplaces, military and veteran facilities, professional sports team and on site athletic events. They are the first line of care for their clients, providing immediate, direct and follow up remedy for sports related injury. An athletic trainer is a high profile job with a good salary, advancement and travel opportunities.
To become one, several requirements need to be accomplished.
- Aspiring athletic trainers must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. If you have not yet acquired a bachelor’s degree, you can enroll to an athletic training program where you can pursue one. Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) has the list of undergraduate level programs. If you have a bachelor’s degree but it does not have anything to do with athletic training, you can either pursue a second degree or get a master’s in athletic training from the accredited colleges and universities. A master’s degree program in athletic training typically takes about two years compared to a PhD, which takes three to four years. Students are educated in classroom and clinical settings. Basic courses in the undergraduate program include human anatomy, human physiology, exercise physiology, pathology of injuries and illnesses, nutrition, pharmacology, acute care of injuries and illness, rehabilitation techniques, healthcare administration, medical conditions and disabilities, etc.
- In order to be a certified athletic trainer, you need to meet or exceed a set of qualifications established by the Board of Certification (BOC). Among the qualifications required for certification include completion of a bachelor’s degree from CAATE-accredited training programs, pass the BOC certification exam, completion of clinical internship, and documentation of ECC certification for healthcare workers among others.
- Education and certification are not the only requirements to become an athletic trainer. You need to have good social and communication skills. If you are going to work with a sports team for example, your job will require you to constantly deal with different personalities. Teamwork, being able to manage stress associated with interpersonal relationships within and outside the team, ability to properly respond to emergencies and difficult situations, and of course passion to help people are important qualifications.
- With your education and certification, you can work as a sports trainer, personal fitness trainer, healthcare representative, etc. You will collaborate with physicians to diagnose and prevent athletic injury. Providing appropriate care and athletic training skills, reconditioning programs and emergency planning are among the many tasks you will provide. Eventually, you can advance into becoming a head athletic trainer, athletic director or practice your skills in a medical facility. You can grab other types of jobs depending on your ability and relationship of the position to your skills.
The school or program where you completed your course can help you find job openings. For athletic trainer opportunities and other sources in this industry, you can refer to the site of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association.