Making Money as an Athletic Trainer, Explained
Have you always wanted to pursue a career in sports, but don’t have the skills or urge to be an athlete yourself? There’s many fun, satisfying, and lucrative sports-adjacent careers you could consider. If you also have an interest in medicine and injury prevention/rehabilitation, becoming an athletic trainer could be the right move for you. Today the Go4team takes a look at what it means to make money as an athletic trainer.
What is an athletic trainer, anyway?
Athletic trainers should not be confused with gym-style trainers. An athletic trainer is a healthcare professional who works with injury prevention programs among athletes. They are also responsible for immediate care after injury during a game (as such, they are also first responders). They help treat injuries, design rehabilitation programs, and will get the final say on when the athlete returns to training, too.
As such, you find athletic trainers in a wide variety of athletic and medical settings. While they are often found in school through college level sports programs, they work in many other locations too. Many are attached to hospitals, sports medicine clinics, and other purely medical settings. You can also find them working in theaters, amongst the military, in industrial settings and even with law enforcement. Anywhere people exert themselves for a living, athletic trainers are needed. As medical professionals, you will find yourself bound by HIPAA privacy laws.
How do I become an athletic trainer?
As you can imagine, all of this responsibility is not easily given. You will need to study through an accredited facility, and it is an entry level Master’s degree.
You will also be expected to become Board of Certification (BOC) certified by passing your examination. This is a certification you will need to maintain over time. Every 2 years you must have accumulated enough ‘proof of continuing education’ credits (50) to recertify yourself. Lastly, some states require independent licensing in addition to your certification, and this will apply in every state you work in.
That doesn’t mean you will need all of these completed before you work a day. Once you have your Bachelor’s and can become certified, you can start exploring per diem work and other job opportunities while you work to further your education. This will also net you valuable experience, which you can use towards improving your salary expectations even as you finish your education.
How much money do athletic trainers make?
Due to the wide range of settings you could work in, the average salary for an athletic trainer can vary a lot. Your state, and its investment in professional sports, will also have a knock-on effect, so choose wisely.
Alongside where you take employment, other factors that will affect how much money you make as an athletic trainer include:
- Your experience
- Additional skills or qualifications
- Geographic location
This is why internships and work programs are valuable as soon as you are qualified enough to practice.
Is the athletic trainer career field growing?
Yes, the need for qualified athletic trainers is growing. As injury prevention, specifically, becomes a renewed focus of both medical and sporting professionals, we can expect to see this accelerate over the coming decade, too.
That said, it’s a small field of work currently, and there are not that many athletic trainers working. Data suggests only around 55,000 professionals are currently registered. This means you will need to work hard and make sure not to tarnish your reputation if you want to advance your career and make money as an athletic trainer.
Being an athletic trainer is a rewarding career, and there is a decent outlook for career growth over the coming decade. If you have the interest to learn, the compassion to practice well among injured athletes, and the passion to push yourself, it could be a rewarding and relatively lucrative career path.
As an athletic trainer, per diem work could dramatically increase your yearly earnings. The Go4 platform connects licensed, certified athletic trainers with the jobs and shifts on their terms and schedule.
We are a NATA preferred partner, so we fully understand the unique needs of athletic trainers and the athletic training profession.