Sports Trainer Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of becoming a sports trainer? Is it worth the licensing and education requirements? Look at real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a sports trainer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Sports Trainer

Sports trainers, more commonly known as athletic trainers, help prevent and treat injuries in people of all ages and oversee the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries. Take a look below at some of the pros and cons of becoming a sports trainer.

Pros of a Sports Trainer Career
Faster-than-average job growth (19% from 2012 to 2022)*
More insurance companies now reimburse for sports trainer's services*
Most employers offer benefits such as healthcare, dental, vacation time*
Some employers give reimbursement for continuing education*

Cons of a Sports Trainer Career
Stress is common for sports trainers who work in competitive sports*
Competition is expected for positions with professional sports teams*
Might work outdoors in various weather conditions*
Variable and long work hours depending on employer*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Information

Job Description

Sports trainers should not be confused with personal trainers, who help people become physically fit. Sports trainers are allied health professionals recognized by the American Medical Association. They specialize in assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries, in addition to working with clients to try to prevent these injuries. As a sports trainer, you might be on-hand before emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics if a client suffered an injury.

Many sports teams, schools, hospitals and other community healthcare providers employ sports trainers to help recondition injured athletes. Your work environment would be largely dependent upon your employer. Some sports trainers work in a central location indoors while others travel a lot and work outdoors.

Salary Information

As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that sports trainers had an average annual income of $45,730 (www.bls.gov). Sports trainers who were in the top 10% of wage earners made around $67,070. Colleges, management enterprises, junior colleges, elementary and secondary schools and performing arts companies are the five top-paying industries for sports trainers. If you want to work in one of the highest-salaried states for sports trainers, look for employment in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, or California.

Career Requirements

Education

A sports trainer must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree in athletic training or sports medicine. Degree programs include courses in human anatomy, nutrition and biomechanics, as well as a clinical practicum. In many cases, a master's degree or higher is needed. This is especially true if you're planning on working at a college or university. Additionally, if you're going to work at a high school where you'll also have teaching duties, a teaching certificate is normally needed.

Licensure and Certification

Most states require licensure for sports trainers. Although requirements vary, states often mandate that licensure applicants hold athletic trainer certification through the Board of Certification (BOC). To qualify for the certification exam, you must have at least a bachelor's degree from a program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. To retain certification, you must complete continuing education courses and uphold specified standards of practice.

What Are Employers Looking For in Sports Trainers?

Because sports trainers have to deal with a variety of people, including coaches, athletes and medical personnel, employers want applicants who possess excellent communication skills. Employers also prefer sports trainers who are familiar with the employer's industry. For example, for a hospital position, employers want a sports trainer with an understanding of the healthcare industry. Likewise, if a school is looking to hire a sports trainer, a background in education can be helpful. Take a look at what some real employers were asking for in March 2012.

  • A hospital in Wisconsin wanted a sports trainer with two years of experience in nutrition, rehabilitation, preventative medicine, injury assessment and strength training.
  • In North Carolina, a military organization requested a sports trainer who was familiar with boxing and wrestling injuries.
  • A religious group in North Dakota required a sports trainer with experience in coordinating schedules.

Standing Out As a Sports Trainer

Being organized can help you stand out as a sports trainer. By keeping to a strict schedule, you'll be able to maximize the time with your clients. This allows people to get the most out of your services while you demonstrate an attitude of professionalism. If you've taken some communication or conflict resolution courses, you can also stand out from other sports trainers. Sports trainers are often involved in stressful situations, particularly if a disagreement occurs with coaches and athletes. By offering a calm and collected demeanor, you'll be better prepared to resolve issues that arise while on the job.

Other Career Paths

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

If you don't like sports, but you want to work in a medical career, you might consider becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN). A career in practical nursing also can require significantly less education; most LPNs complete a 1-year training program compared to at least four years for athletic trainers. In an LPN career, you'll help injured and sick people by working alongside registered nurses and physicians. You'll provide basic care and check vital signs. Other job duties might include dressing wounds and giving injections. As of May 2011, LPNs had an average annual income of about $42,000, according to the BLS.

Paramedic/EMT

If you're interested in helping others medically, but you want to work in an emergency role, you could become a paramedic or EMT. These careers also require less education than athletic trainer; you typically can enter the field with a certificate or, in the case of paramedics, an associate's degree. When a call of an accident or incident is received, EMTs and paramedics are dispatched to the scene. There, they assess the situation and apply emergency first aid if necessary. Their goal is to stabilize patients and transport them to the nearest medical facility. According to the BLS, paramedics and EMTs made $34,000 on average as of May 2011, which was significantly less than sports trainers.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
      • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Health Club Operations
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • BS - Sportscasting
      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma
  • Online Programs Available
    5. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Sports Analytics Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Health Administration - Organizational Development and Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Abilene Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Administration
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ed.D. - Sports Management
      • PhD in Education - Sports Management
    Master's
      • M.Ed. - Athletic Coaching
      • MEd - Sports Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Sports Management

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
  • AASBA in Health Club Operations

Which subject are you interested in?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business
  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Sports Analytics Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Health Administration - Organizational Development and Leadership

What is your highest level of education completed?

Abilene Christian University

  • MBA - Healthcare Administration
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?