Athletic trainer salary & career outlook

In a country where more than one in four individuals is obese, the need for athletic trainers in the U.S. is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. However, don't mistake these individuals for weight loss coaches. Unlike fitness workers, athletic trainers are health care professionals who work to prevent, diagnose and treat muscle and bone injuries. And despite their name, athletic trainers work with more than just athletes.

Often, these professionals are part of a medical team and work under the supervision of a physician to help people from all walks of life. Individuals with good communication skills and a desire to help others are best suited to work in this profession.

Athletic trainer salaries

There are several sources that report athletic trainer salary data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks occupational information for the entire country. According to their estimates, in 2010, these professionals earned mean annual wages of $44,030. Those working for performing arts companies had the highest incomes according to the government data, earning mean annual wages of $58,700 in 2010.

Salary information is also available from private sources such as GlassDoor.com and Salary.com. At GlassDoor.com, visitors submit their salary information voluntarily and according to the site, average salaries for athletic trainers range from $25,883 for those working with a physical therapy firm to $71,662 for those employed by professional sports teams. On Salary.com, the website surveys employers to calculate average incomes. According to its data, athletic trainers earn mean salaries of $39,286.

Of course, salaries can vary throughout the nation, too. The BLS found that Utah, the District of Columbia and Connecticut are among the highest paying states. However, those looking to combine higher salaries with a lower cost of living may want to consider the following metro areas:

  • Salt Lake City, Utah ($78,040)
  • Colorado Springs, Colo. ($65,900)
  • Houston, Texas ($60,660)

Finding athletic trainer training online

Athletic trainers are licensed or otherwise regulated in 47 states, and these individuals must meet specific education requirements. According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, a bachelor's degree in athletic training from an accredited program will be the standard education requirement for this occupation as of the 2014-2015 school year. In addition, the group reports 70 percent of all current athletic trainers already hold a master's degree. After graduation at any level, most athletic trainers must pass a Board of Certification exam to begin work.

The curriculum at athletic trainer schools focuses both on science knowledge and professional skills. Students will learn about health care management and risk prevention in addition to human anatomy, physiology and biology. Since degrees in athletic training have clinical requirements, it is impossible to complete the entire degree program online. However, some athletic trainer training may be available online, such as science prerequisites and the courses that are needed to maintain certification.

Job growth for athletic trainers

Athletic trainers are expected to be in high demand in the coming years. The BLS estimates jobs for athletic trainers will grow 37 percent from 2008-2018. Most of these jobs will be focused in the health care industry and high schools. However, fitness and recreation centers will also see an increased need for these professionals. Those with a degree from athletic trainer schools will be prepared to fill jobs in these and other industry sectors.

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