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Career profile Athletic Trainer

Also known as Assistant Athletic Trainer, Athletic Instructor, Athletic Trainer, Certified Athletic Trainer, Clinical Instructor, Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer, Head Athletic Trainer, Head Athletic Trainer/Strength Coach, Resident Athletic Trainer, Sports Medicine Coordinator

Athletic Trainer

Also known as Assistant Athletic Trainer, Athletic Instructor, Athletic Trainer

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$32,980 - $75,810 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Psychology
Core tasks
  • Conduct an initial assessment of an athlete's injury or illness to provide emergency or continued care and to determine whether they should be referred to physicians for definitive diagnosis and treatment.
  • Assess and report the progress of recovering athletes to coaches or physicians.
  • Care for athletic injuries, using physical therapy equipment, techniques, or medication.
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What does an Athletic Trainer do?

Athletic Trainers evaluate and treat musculoskeletal injuries or illnesses.

In addition, Athletic Trainers provide preventive, therapeutic, emergency, and rehabilitative care.

What kind of tasks does an Athletic Trainer perform regularly?

Athletic Trainers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Conduct an initial assessment of an athlete's injury or illness to provide emergency or continued care and to determine whether they should be referred to physicians for definitive diagnosis and treatment.
  • Assess and report the progress of recovering athletes to coaches or physicians.
  • Care for athletic injuries, using physical therapy equipment, techniques, or medication.
  • Evaluate athletes' readiness to play and provide participation clearances when necessary and warranted.
  • Perform general administrative tasks, such as keeping records or writing reports.
  • Clean and sanitize athletic training rooms.
  • Instruct coaches, athletes, parents, medical personnel, or community members in the care and prevention of athletic injuries.
  • Apply protective or injury preventive devices, such as tape, bandages, or braces, to body parts, such as ankles, fingers, or wrists.
  • Collaborate with physicians to develop and implement comprehensive rehabilitation programs for athletic injuries.
  • Travel with athletic teams to be available at sporting events.
  • Plan or implement comprehensive athletic injury or illness prevention programs.
  • Inspect playing fields to locate any items that could injure players.
  • Advise athletes on the proper use of equipment.
  • Develop training programs or routines designed to improve athletic performance.
  • Confer with coaches to select protective equipment.
  • Massage body parts to relieve soreness, strains, or bruises.
  • Accompany injured athletes to hospitals.
  • Lead stretching exercises for team members prior to games or practices.
  • Conduct research or provide instruction on subject matter related to athletic training or sports medicine.
  • Recommend special diets to improve athletes' health, increase their stamina, or alter their weight.

The above responsibilities are specific to Athletic Trainers. More generally, Athletic Trainers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

What is an Athletic Trainer salary?

The median salary for an Athletic Trainer is $49,860, and the average salary is $52,230. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Athletic Trainer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Athletic Trainers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Athletic Trainers earn less than $32,980 per year, 25% earn less than $41,310, 75% earn less than $61,280, and 90% earn less than $75,810.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Athletic Trainers is expected to change by 23.3%, and there should be roughly 3,100 open positions for Athletic Trainers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$32,980 - $75,810
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Athletic Trainers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Athletic Trainer are usually higher in their Social, Realistic, and Investigative interests.

Athletic Trainers typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Athletic Trainers typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Athletic Trainers typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Athletic Trainer tend to value Achievement, Relationships, and Independence.

Most importantly, Athletic Trainers very strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Athletic Trainers very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Athletic Trainers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Athletic Trainers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, concern for others, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Athletic Trainers, ranked by importance:

Job requires being honest and ethical.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

What education and training do Athletic Trainers need?

Many Athletic Trainers have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Athletic Trainers may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Athletic Trainers

  • 1.0% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 5.3% completed high school or secondary school
  • 12.0% completed some college coursework
  • 8.4% earned a Associate's degree
  • 34.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 34.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 4.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Athletic Trainers

Athletic Trainers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as medicine and dentistry, customer and personal service, or psychology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Athletic Trainers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Athletic Trainers

Athletic Trainers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Athletic Trainers need abilities such as problem sensitivity, oral expression, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Athletic Trainers, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Critical Skills needed by Athletic Trainers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Athletic Trainers frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Athletic Trainers, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.