Career Choice: Athletic Trainers
They’re the professionals you call on whenever you suffer a sports-related injury. They’re athletic trainers and they represent a fast-growing profession that works with professional athletes and gym rats alike. Athletic trainers do not respond solely to injuries as they’re always available to help everyone in their charge maintain optimum physical fitness.
Athletic trainers are tasked with maintaining or helping to restore the health of individuals put in their charge. Also known as physician extenders, sports medicine coordinators and clinical education coordinators, these professionals care for athletic injuries and work closely with physicians to help athletes recover. Trainers may use physical therapy equipment, bandages and medication to assist their clients. They’ll also evaluate recovering athletes and make assessments on readiness to resume play. Athletic trainers develop and implement injury prevention programs, offer instruction and travel with teams to athletic events.
Approximately 60 percent of athletic trainers have a bachelor’s degree with the remaining 40 percent possessing a master’s degree. Undergraduate study typically leads to a degree in athletic training with those programs usually accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. Students take health science classes with an emphasis on nutrition, physiology, anatomy and human biology. Advanced training for select university and corporate positions is required for some jobs, hence the pursuit of a master’s degree.
For injured athletes, the work athletic trainers provide in helping to restore them to optimum health is priceless. Too bad that most trainers earn an annual salary that is equal to what some athletes earn per game. As of 2012, the median annual wage for athletic trainers was $42,090 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Full BLS salary data is for 2011. As of that year, athletic trainers in the 10th percentile earned $26,200 annually, while those in the 25th percentile could expect to make $34,100 per year. The median salary for 2011 was $42,400. Athletic trainers in the 75th percentile earned $52,500 per year, while those in the 90th percentile averaged $66,000 per year on average. Highest wages were found in Utah, New Jersey and Texas with lowest wages in New Mexico, North Dakota and Rhode Island. Indeed with an average salary of just $23,900 as of 2011, athletic trainers in Rhode Island have the lowest wages in the nation.
Despite the low pay and working conditions that can be challenging, i.e., frequent traveling, night hours and weekend events, athletic trainers have a job that is rarely predictable and often exciting. The job forecast is a robust one with the BLS predicting a 30 percent growth from 2010 to 2020. Athletic trainers will continue to find work in educational settings as awareness of sports injuries continues to climb especially concussions. Insurance companies are also recognizing the value of these professionals and are more likely to reimburse people for their services.