Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Summary

Please enable javascript to play this video.

Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7fyeBoweVU.
Quick Facts: Athletic Trainers
2020 Median Pay $49,860 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2020 30,000
Job Outlook, 2020-30 23% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 7,000

What Athletic Trainers Do

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses.

Work Environment

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.

How to Become an Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree. Nearly all states require athletic trainers to have a license or certification; requirements vary by state.

Pay

The median annual wage for athletic trainers was $49,860 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,100 openings for athletic trainers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for athletic trainers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of athletic trainers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about athletic trainers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Athletic Trainers Do About this section

athletic trainers image
Athletic trainers carry out rehabilitation programs for injured athletes.

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses.

Duties

Athletic trainers typically do the following:

  • 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

Athletic trainers work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes. Athletic trainers are usually one of the first healthcare providers on the scene when injuries occur on the field. They work under the direction of a licensed physician and with other healthcare providers, often discussing specific injuries and treatment options or evaluating and treating patients, as directed by a physician. Some athletic trainers meet with a team physician or consulting physician regularly.

An athletic trainer’s administrative responsibilities may include regular meetings with an athletic director or another administrative officer to deal with budgets, purchasing, policy implementation, and other business-related issues. Athletic trainers plan athletic programs that are compliant with federal and state regulations; for example, they may ensure a football program adheres to laws related to athlete concussions.

Athletic trainers should not be confused with fitness trainers and instructors, which include personal trainers.

Work Environment About this section

Athletic trainers
Athletic trainers may travel to games with athletes.

Athletic trainers held about 30,000 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of athletic trainers were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 38%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 20
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 14
Fitness and recreational sports centers 5
Self-employed workers 3

Athletic trainers also may work with military, with law enforcement, with professional sports teams, or with performing artists.

Athletic trainers may spend their time working outdoors on sports fields in all types of weather.

Work Schedules

Most athletic trainers work full time. Athletic trainers who work with teams during sporting events may work evenings or weekends and travel often.

How to Become an Athletic Trainer About this section

Athletic trainers
Athletic trainers must be licensed or certified in nearly all states.

Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree. Nearly all states require athletic trainers to have a license or certification; requirements vary by state.

Education

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.

The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredits hundreds of athletic trainer programs, including postprofessional and residency athletic trainer programs.

High school students interested in postsecondary athletic training programs should take courses in anatomy, physiology, and physics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Nearly all states require athletic trainers to be licensed or certified; requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the particular state’s licensing or credentialing board or athletic trainer association.

The Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC) offers the standard certification examination that most states use for licensing athletic trainers. Certification requires graduating from a CAATE-accredited program and passing the BOC exam. To maintain certification, athletic trainers must adhere to the BOC Standards of Professional Practice and take continuing education courses.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Athletic trainers work with athletes and patients who may be in considerable pain or discomfort. The trainers must be sympathetic while providing treatments.

Decisionmaking 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.

Advancement

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.

Pay About this section

Athletic Trainers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

$51,560

Athletic trainers

$49,860

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for athletic trainers was $49,860 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $75,810.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for athletic trainers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $54,140
Hospitals; state, local, and private 49,030
Fitness and recreational sports centers 46,970
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 46,410

Most athletic trainers work full time. Athletic trainers who work with teams during sporting events may work evenings or weekends and travel often.

Job Outlook About this section

Athletic Trainers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Athletic trainers

23%

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

14%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,100 openings for athletic trainers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Some of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020.

Sports programs at all ages and for all experience levels will continue to create demand for athletic trainers. Concussions are dangerous at any age, but their effects may be particularly severe and long lasting in children, whose brains are still developing. Because athletic trainers are usually onsite and are often the first responders when injuries occur, some states require public secondary schools to employ athletic trainers as part of their sports programs. 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. Their continued activity will likely lead to an increase in athletic-related injuries, such as sprains. Athletic trainers will be needed to provide sophisticated treatments in injury prevention and detection.

Many employers and insurers rely on athletic trainers to help contain costs associated with worker injuries, especially for those who risk injury on the job. For example, athletic trainers may help to rehabilitate injured military personnel. These trainers also create programs aimed at reducing injury rates. Depending on the state, some insurance companies recognize athletic trainers as healthcare providers and reimburse the cost of an athletic trainer’s services.

Employment projections data for athletic trainers, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Athletic trainers

29-9091 30,000 37,000 23 7,000 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of athletic trainers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2020 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Coaches and scouts Coaches and Scouts

Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport.

Bachelor's degree $36,330
Chiropractors Chiropractors

Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Doctoral or professional degree $70,720
EMTs and paramedics EMTs and Paramedics

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities.

Postsecondary nondegree award $36,650
Exercise Physiologists

Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help injured or sick patients recover.

Bachelor's degree $50,280
Massage therapists Massage Therapists

Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body.

Postsecondary nondegree award $43,620
Occupational therapists Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists treat patients who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

Master's degree $86,280
Physical therapists Physical Therapists

Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain.

Doctoral or professional degree $91,010
Physician assistants Physician Assistants

Physician assistants practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers.

Master's degree $115,390
Recreational therapists Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses.

Bachelor's degree $47,710
Respiratory therapists Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema.

Associate's degree $62,810

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about athletic trainers, visit

National Athletic Trainers’ Association

For more information about accredited athletic training programs, visit

Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education

For more information about certification and state regulatory requirements for athletic trainers, visit

Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer

CareerOneStop

For a career video on athletic trainers, visit

Athletic Trainers

O*NET

Athletic Trainers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Athletic Trainers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers.htm (visited November 19, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.