Average Certified Athletic Trainer Salary

Welcome To Athletic Trainer Salary!

athletic trainer taping courtesy of FIU

 The average salary for a certified athletic trainer (ATC) has been rising steadily with a growth rate of 30%. The athletic trainer salary in 2010 was $41,600 per year.  In 2013, the reported average annual earnings for an athletic trainer reached $49,000.

 The low end of the annual pay scale is approximately $26,000 with a high end salary over $65,000. The expected salary of a certified athletic trainer varies depending on location, industry, and type of work environment.

Being a certified athletic trainer is becoming a popular career choice. In 2012 employment of ATC’s experienced ranked among the highest increase in all employment sectors.  The ATC is a crucial part of many institutions and can only gain more popularity as their importance continues to gain recognition.

Athletic Trainer Salary by Industry

The athletic trainer salary is impacted based on the industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) published data from 2012 showing the athletic trainer salary for each industry with the highest level of employment, highest concentration of employment and top paying athletic training jobs.

Athletic trainer jobs with the highest levels of employment:

Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools            $45,020

Offices of Other Health Practitioners                                $40,320

Other Amusement and Recreation Industries                 $44,200

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals                           $44,310

Elementary and Secondary Schools                                    $53,530

Athletic trainer jobs with the highest concentration of employment:

Spectator Sports                                                                      $46,200

Offices of Other Health Practitioners                                  $40,320

Other Amusement and Recreation Industries                   $44,200

Other Schools and Instruction                                              $32,960

Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools               $45,020

Top athletic trainer salary jobs:

Performing Arts Companies                                                   $58,020

Elementary and Secondary Schools                                      $53,530

Junior Colleges                                                                          $46,980

Spectator Sports                                                                         $46,200

Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools                $45,020

What is a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC)?

A Certified Athletic Trainer is a highly skilled and educated professional specialized in the treatment, assessment, rehabilitation and prevention of injuries and illnesses. An athletic trainer is NOT a personal trainer. A certified athletic trainer works under the guidance and supervision of a physician or healthcare provider.

The American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes athletic trainers as a part of the healthcare list of professionals. The athletic trainer acts as a first responder when an injury occurs. The injury is assessed by the trainer and if needed, the athletic trainer can refer the patient to a physician.

A typical day for a trainer working in a sports facility involves, preparing sports players for practice. As part of their preventive role they ensure that players have all the correct protective wear. If a player is injured in practice and even in a game, the ATC is usually among the first people to rush to attend to the player. They evaluate the injury and determine whether they should refer it to a physician or to take care of it if it is a minor injury.

The Certified Athletic Trainer also comes up with a rehabilitation program for all injured players. They will oversee all training, under the physician’s supervision, and exercise sessions until the player is fully fit.

The specific job description will depend on the job requirements of each employer and industry.

Education Qualifications

The athletic trainer career requires the completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The athletic training major requires a student to complete 120 credit hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 to meet the requirements to graduate. Courses include studies in human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, and psychology.

Most students go on to complete a Master’s of Science degree in Athletic Training. The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) is the organization that accredits most of the athletic programs. There are approximately 20 colleges/universities offering a Master’s degree in athletic training. The Master’s program typically takes 2 years to complete and requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0. The GRE’s may be required if the bachelors program has a GPA less than 3.0.

Athletic Training Certification

Most states require an athletic trainer be certified by the Board of Certification (BOC). The BOC is an independent board that provides the exam necessary for certification. The exam ensures athletic trainers adhere to the Standards of Professional Practice (SOP) and possess the knowledge necessary to effectively work as an athletic trainer. Passing of the BOC exam certifies the athletic trainer.


The BOC requires athletic trainers continue to learn to maintain certification. The BOC recertification requires athletic trainers to remain compliant by completing the following;

– Adherence to the Standards of Professional Practice (SOP)

– Continuous certification in emergency cardiac care (ECC)

– Completion of continuing education (CE)

– Payment of a recertification fee


To obtain the licenses to work as an athletic trainer, most states require;

– The completion of a bachelor’s degree from accredited CAATE college/university

– Passing the BOC certification exam for athletic trainers

Physical Requirements to be an Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers need to be physically capable of caring for patients. The duties and responsibilities of an athletic trainer demands that the trainer be able to lift, push/pull, stand, see, communicate, and have good motor skills. A specific requirement for most employment requires the applicant to lift at least 35 pounds without assistance.

Work Environment

Athletic trainers have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of work settings such as; military, schools, professional organizations, hospitals, and physical rehabilitation clinics. The career broadening ability makes the athletic training occupation intriguing. The athletic trainer salary is highly dependent on the work environment.

Professional Sports/Sports Medicine: Professional sports teams require an active injury prevention plan, have a higher potential for injuries, and a need for a robust rehabilitation program. The athletic trainer also has the opportunity to work with athletes playing football, basketball, soccer, and so forth. Working with a sports team provides the certified athletic trainer an opportunity to can experience quickly.

Athletic Trainer as a Teacher:  A certified athletic trainer will be responsible for providing training and instruction. Requirements may include developing a training plan, establishing a class schedule, and curriculum.

Schools, Colleges, Universities:  Athletic trainers in this environment primarily focus on injury prevention and treatment. The athletic trainer will work alongside other athletic staff and school medical staff.

Performing Arts:  The performing arts sector is one of the highest paying sectors for an athletic trainer. The performing arts industry is filled with groups such as; gymnasts, dancers, and circus performers. Performing artists challenge their body and test their abilities each and every performance. An athletic trainer is vital in preventing injuries, enhancing mobility/agility of performers, and keeping the artists in good physical condition.

Duties and Responsibilities of an Athletic Trainer

– Establish injury/wellness prevention programs

– Diagnose and treat existing injuries

– Provide emergency care

– Develop rehabilitation programs

– Maintain records, file incident reports, and similar records

– Order/manage necessary supplies

– Promote good health and fitness

Common Employment Requirements for Athletic Training Jobs

– Bachelors degree from an accredited college or university in athletic training or related field

– Be certified by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association and be licensed by the state

– Be physically capable to treat and care for patients

– 1-3 years experience

Recommended Additional Qualifications for Employment

– Masters degree in Athletic Training

– National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) certification

– National Academy of Sports Medicine  (NASM) certification


Image courtesy of FIU on Flickr.com