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Athletic Trainers

At a Glance

  • Work with teams, individual athletes, and other physically active clients
  • Work mostly for high schools, colleges, and clinics
  • Are very physically active
  • Work long hours during sport seasons
  • May travel if working for a team
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • May need a license

Career summary

Athletic trainers help prevent and treat injuries in people who are physically active.

#review 4/4/19 lh

Athletic trainers work with athletes of all ages and sports, including:

Athletic trainers make sure athletes are in good shape and ready to play. Many of their tasks involve preventing injuries.

They show athletes how to exercise correctly and may lead a team through stretching exercises prior to each practice or game.

They suggest diets and exercises to improve athletes' strength. They also verify that players have a physical examination and are cleared to exercise or play.

Athletic trainers help coaches choose equipment that will prevent injuries such as concussions. They instruct athletes on the proper use of safety equipment.

Athletic trainers monitor athletes with minor injuries. For protection, they tape, wrap, or brace ankles, fingers, or other parts of the body before practices and games. After workouts, athletic trainers massage athletes' limbs to relieve soreness and strains.

When an athlete gets hurt, athletic trainers help determine how serious the injury is. They provide emergency first aid and may go with the athlete to the hospital. Athletic trainers confer with doctors and physical therapists to set up a therapy routine. They also work with the athlete, coach, and family to decide when the player can return to play.

Athletic trainers may also have some administrative duties. For example, they may meet with school administrators, the athletic director, or coaches to discuss budgets, training, and schedules.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to athletic trainers.

Common work activities

Athletic trainers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, athletic trainers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Athletic trainers frequently:

It is important for athletic trainers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for athletic trainers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Athletic trainers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an athletic trainer, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Athletic trainers must have a bachelor's degree. Accepted majors are athletic training, pre-medicine, kinesiology, exercise physiology, biology, exercise science, or physical education.

Some athletic trainers have a master's degree. Common areas of study are athletic training, education, and exercise physiology. In athletic training programs you learn to identify, evaluate, and treat musculoskeletal injuries. You also learn anatomy, physiology, and first aid.

On-the-job training

The length of on-the-job training varies by employer. In general, newly hired athletic trainers receive up to three months of on-the-job training.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). Athletic trainers use advanced math. Try to take math through Trigonometry.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require a bachelor's degree in athletic training or a related field. Many also require certification as an athletic trainer. In states that require an athletic trainer license, employers may hire only licensed athletic trainers. Employers also look for people with good communication skills.


Contact a college that employs an athletic trainer or a school with an athletic training program; visit, spend some time, and ask questions. Volunteer your time with a local athletic trainer prior to committing to a major. Find out if this profession is right for you. Become involved with a high school athletic program as early as possible as the team manager or student athletic trainer. Experience while in high school can be helpful in obtaining an athletic training internship while in college.

Volunteer to work with players in community sports programs and attend summer athletic training camps. Take classes related to this occupation early in your college education and join the National Athletic Trainers' Association. Work under as many different certified athletic trainers as possible to gain hands-on experience. A master's degree may be a plus for some jobs.

#Checked certification information and updated related web site address 3/23/04. CJ.

#moved BOCAT info to certification/licensing section 3/11/05 lh.

Costs to workers

Certified athletic trainers have to pay examination and annual certification fees to the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification. They also must attend continuing education classes to keep up with changes in the field. Twenty-five to fifty (depending on original certification date) continuing education units are required within a specified time period to maintain certification, plus a current ECCC (Emergency Cardiac Care Certification) card.

#Verified cert info 2/13/12 & 2/6/14, made slight change to CEU hrs 2/2/16 cj. Checked section 2/6/18 cj.


Athletic trainers must be licensed by the State of Washington if they wish to offer athletic training services. Licensing requirements include:

The State licensing application fee is $115, the annual renewal fee is $135. There is also an examination fee required by the Board of Certification.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Health
Health Athletic Trainer Program (external link)

PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504

Those who wish to combine athletic training with high school teaching must have a teaching certificate (see high school teachers).

# Licensing info checked 2/6/18 cj. 4/4/19 lh

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Earnings for athletic trainers of individual professional athletes, such as tennis players or boxers, vary greatly and depend, in part, on how well the athletes perform.

Earnings vary greatly depending on location, education, experience, and the sport. Because many workers do not work full time or the entire year, hourly wages are difficult to calculate. Annual wage information is available and is used instead.


Athletic trainers (SOC 29-9091)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $39,850 $42,680 $47,290 $54,300 $62,190
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $40,782 $43,555 $48,212 $55,743 $63,479
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $40,335 $43,581 $47,892 $52,193 $60,050
    Vancouver Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $29,173 $40,740 $48,738 $57,592 $63,704
United States Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $31,010 $39,140 $47,510 $58,320 $70,750

(1) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary depending on the education and experience of the athletic trainer. Wages also vary by employer. Athletic trainers who work for university or professional sports teams tend to earn the most.

Full-time athletic trainers often receive benefits. These usually include paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Athletic Trainers (SOC 29-9091)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 567 33.0% 16.1% 70
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 10 40.0% 14.1% 1
    King County 180 21.1% 19.6% 18
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 15 20.0% 13.8% 1
    Snohomish County 237 37.6% 12.4% 31
    Spokane County 89 29.2% 13.9% 10
United States 31,100 19.0% 5.2% 2,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for athletic trainers is expected to be high due to several factors. First, as people become more aware of sports-related injuries at a young age, demand for athletic trainers is expected to increase in schools and youth sports. Second, the growing population of active middle-age and elderly people will increase the demand for trainers. Third, many companies are hiring athletic trainers to help reduce injuries on the job. Trainers can show employees how to lift items correctly and help to create training programs.

Although job growth is strong for athletic trainers it is a small occupation and opportunities will be limited. Athletic trainers with a degree from an accredited program and a few years of experience will have the best prospects.

Other resources

American College of Sports Medicine (external link)
401 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
American Kinesiology Association (external link)
1900 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191
American Kinesiotherapy Association (external link)
Become a Certified Athletic Trainer (external link)
Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (external link)
1415 Harney Street
Suite 200
Omaha, NE 68102
Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Programs (external link)
6850 Austin Center Blvd
Suite 100
Austin, TX 78731-3184
Explore Health Careers: Athletic Trainer (external link)
Health Occupation Students of America (external link)
548 Silicon Drive, Suite 101
Southlake, TX 76092
National Athletic Trainers' Association (external link)
1620 Valwood Parkway, Suite 115
Carrollton, TX 75006
Northwest Athletic Trainers Association (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster