Athletic Trainer

Female athletic trainer works with a woman athlete carrying a blue ball across a field with green grass and trees in background
Career Clusters: Health Sciences

What you need to know


Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. Athletic trainers work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes.

What is this career like?

Many athletic trainers work in educational settings, such as colleges, universities, elementary schools, and secondary schools. Others work in hospitals, fitness centers, or physicians’ offices, or for professional sports teams.

Some of the things athletic trainers might do:

  • Apply protective or injury-preventive devices, such as tape, bandages, and braces
  • Recognize and evaluate injuries
  • Provide first aid or emergency care
  • Develop and carry out rehabilitation programs for injured athletes
  • Plan and implement comprehensive programs to prevent injury and illness among athletes
  • Perform administrative tasks, such as keeping records and writing reports on injuries and treatment programs
What skills are needed?
  • Compassion. Athletic trainers work with athletes and patients who may be in considerable pain or discomfort. The trainers must be sympathetic while providing treatments.
  • Decision-making skills. Athletic trainers must make informed clinical decisions that could affect the health or livelihood of patients.
  • Detail oriented. Athletic trainers must record patients’ progress accurately and ensure that they are receiving the appropriate treatments or practicing the correct fitness regimen.
  • Interpersonal skills. Athletic trainers must have strong interpersonal skills in order to manage difficult situations. They must communicate well with others, including physicians, patients, athletes, coaches, and parents.
What is the pay?

The average pay for athletic trainers in the United States was $57,930 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 2,500 new job openings for athletic trainers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Sports programs at all ages and for all experience levels will continue to create demand for athletic trainers. The demand for trainers in schools should continue to increase as people become more aware of the effects of sports-related injuries.

Growing numbers of middle-aged and older people are remaining physically active. Athletic trainers will be needed to provide sophisticated treatments in injury prevention and detection.

What education is required?

Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Master’s degree programs are also common and may be preferred by some employers. Degree programs have classroom and clinical components, including science and health-related courses, such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and nutrition.

Assistant athletic trainers may become head athletic trainers, athletic directors, or physician, hospital, or clinic practice administrators. In any of these positions, they will assume a management role. Athletic trainers working in colleges and universities may pursue an advanced degree to increase their advancement opportunities.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Kinesiology.