Job description

Athletic trainers work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to offer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation services to injured athletes. Not to be confused with fitness trainers (who instruct people in exercise activities), athletic trainers practise in the field of sports medicine.


    • Recognise and evaluate injuries
    • Provide first aid or emergency care
    • Educate athletes on proper techniques in exercise
    • Apply protective or injury-preventive devices such as braces and bandages
    • Advise athletes on how to correctly use athletic equipment
    • Assess and report the progress of recovering athletes to coaches and physicians
    • Evaluate athletes’ readiness to play and provide clearances as appropriate
    • Perform administrative tasks such as keeping records and writing reports

Skills and qualities

Attention to detail
Active listening
Critical thinking
Deductive reasoning
Active learning

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

You’ll typically start as an assistant athletic trainer and, with experience, can move up to a head athletic trainer or athletic director position. You can also progress to a management role as a hospital administrator within a hospital, clinical department or private practice. Advancement into a sales or marketing position is also possible, selling medical and athletic equipment.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally

Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation and therapy clinics. Others work in the military, for professional sports teams or with performing artists.

You’ll spend most of your time outdoors in all sorts of weather, and you may often be required to work nights and weekends during sporting events. Travel, both local and international, is also common.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Bachelor’s degree in athletic training

Study time

4 years

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in athletic training accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) in order to become an athletic trainer.

Most states require athletic trainers to be licensed or certified. Requirements vary by state, but generally include the completion of a CAATE-accredited programme and the Board of Certification (BOC) exam or a separate state exam.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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