Athletic Training Degree

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What is Athletic Training?

Athletic training is performed by a trained, qualified athletic trainer.  An athletic trainer is a professional that specializes in the analysis, diagnosis, prevention, rehabilitation, and treatment of muscles, tendons, bones, and illness.  Athletic training blends sports medicine and exercise science into a unique discipline as a certified athletic trainer.

Athletic trainers have a unique set of curricula to help them prepare to help individuals and patients in the field.  Classes involved in becoming an athletic trainer may include: nutrition, biostatistics, CPR, anatomy, physiology of exercise, kinesiology, athletic training, orthopedic training, applied medicine, therapeutic modalities, rehabilitation, and reconditioning.

Students earning an athletic training degree are uniquely equipped to continue their education in the following arenas: athletic training, exercise science, physician assistants, nutrition, occupational therapy, wellness professions, health promotion, and physical therapy.

Difference Between an Athletic Trainer and Personal Trainer

The primary differences between an athletic trainer and personal trainer come down to areas of specialty and education requirements.  A personal trainer is focused on the development of exercise regiments and fitness programs of physically able clients in a customer-facing environment.  Typical requirements for a personal trainer is a recommended 4-year degree in kinesiology, exercise science, or similar field.

An athletic trainer, on the other hand, must have a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree in athletic training or similar plus an active license in their state of residence.  Athletic trainers are equipped to assess, evaluate, diagnose, and treat sports-related injuries and reconditioning plans for athletes and clients.

How to Become an Athletic Trainer?

To become an art therapist, you must follow a series of steps that are build upon one another that are detailed below.  The process is critical to follow as variations can exist from state to state which makes research and detail orientation critical to the process.  The steps to become an athletic trainer generally include the following:

Step 1 – Research Accredited Colleges

The initial phase to starting a career in athletic training is to find the best college for you.  The best university for you is a personal choice as it must align with your professional goals and objectives.  To help determine what is best for you, start by reading our guide to help reduce college costs and other highly acclaimed eBooks.

Researching accredited colleges, utilize the key data on this portal and our advanced search tools.  Our exclusive matching portal and degree finder tools can help automate the process to expedite the process.

Step 2 – Apply to College

After collecting admissions information from colleges, you will need to apply to colleges or universities offering athletic trainer programs.  Invest time to fully understand the school’s curricular approach, degrees, program requirements, financial aid package, and student services.

During your college application process, illuminate all training and sports related work experience and applicable extracurricular activities in detail.  The extra effort will help best encapsulate you in an effort to stand out from other applicants.

Step 3 – Attend School

After deciding on your top college, you will need to complete the school’s orientation process and get registered for classes in athletic training.  Bachelor degree programs in athletic training are generally 4-year programs while master’s degrees are 2-3 years in addition to an approved undergraduate degree.

Step 4 – Graduate, Exams, Licensure, Certification, & Work

Upon graduating from an accredited college or university with your athletic training degree, you will want to begin gaining valuable work experience in the field.  Many states require athletic trainers to be licensed and/or certified.  General requirements are to earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from an accredited college or university and pass all applicable state-mandated examinations.  By meeting both requirements, athletic trainers will be eligible for state licensing.

Step 5 – Continuing Education

Most states require athletic trainers to complete a series of continuing education credits or continuing education hours perpetually.  Adopting a mentality of being a lifelong learner will help prepare you for continual learning and upskill opportunities in the athletic training field.

Step 6 – Earn a Graduate Degree

To maximize your career opportunities in athletic training within private entities or colleges, many students elect to earn a master’s degree in athletic training online or in class.  Specific training in athletic training, exercise physiology, and sports medicine will help practitioners go deeper and wider in an ever-expanding field of study.

Athletic Training Requirements

A degree in athletic training prepares an individual with the skills and knowledge necessary to deal with physical injury from broken bones to muscle sprains.  Athletic trainers are usually the first to deal with injuries and work with children, soldiers, professionals, and amateur athletes.

Athletic trainers must have at least a bachelor's degree and typically require some form of state license in order to work within the state. Athletic trainers are also responsible for injury prevention, either by educating individuals or by recognizing risks and assisting in minimization.  A typical curriculum in athletic training may include:

Athletic trainers work under the auspices of a physician, and often consult with physicians for treatment recommendations.  Within a sports environment, athletic trainers will treat individuals as directed by a physician.  Additionally, trainers are typically the first on the field to treat the injured.  The role of the athletic trainer extends beyond sports, having uses on the battle field for the military, on-site at schools, and gyms of all sizes.

Top Colleges for Athletic Training

A list of top colleges offering athletic training can quickly be found below.  The best colleges in athletic training is direct correlation to your priorities and educational goals more so than any media outlet pushing magazine subscriptions or website promoting timeshare investments.

In other words, finding a college that is best for you can only be determined by you.  Our goal at MatchCollege is to help you find the program that is best for you by providing quality information.  Take the time to read our college admissions guide and how to get into your top college today.   Additionally, you can request information from top colleges found on this page or by utilizing our proprietary matching system for traditional programs or online athletic training degree.

Employment for Athletic Trainers

The minimum education necessary to become an athletic trainer is a bachelor's degree.  However a master's degree will open up more opportunities and increase the likelihood of promotion.  State licensure is necessary to operate as an athletic trainer and the requirements are different for each state. Interested individuals should research their state requirements when preparing for a career as an athletic trainer.  The Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainers (BOC ATC) is a great place to start.  This organization helps you quickly visualize the states that require athletic training licensing, certification, and registration.

How Much Do Athletic Trainers Make?

Athletic trainers make an above average income based on the most recent data gathered from the BLS.  In fact, the median annual income of an athletic trainer is currently $46,630 with the top 10% earning $69,180 a year and the bottom ten percent earning just over thirty thousand dollars a year.

As a reminder, experience, location, and employment arrangement can play a large role in one's salary.   Job growth for athletic trainers is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade to the tune of 23%.  Given the average growth for all jobs of 6%, athletic trainers should have ample vocations to pursue.  The rapid growth can be attributed to population growth, access to quality health care, the growing role of athletic trainers, and the increased interest in preventative health care.

Top Paying States for Athletic Trainers

  1. District of Columbia    $67,550
  2. New Jersey                    $58,180
  3. Connecticut                   $57,140
  4. Nevada                           $57,110
  5. Texas                              $53,620

States with the Highest Employment of Athletic Trainers

  1. Texas
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. California
  4. New York
  5. Ohio

Top Employers of Athletic Trainers

  1. Colleges and Universities
  2. Health Practitioner’s
  3. Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  4. Training Facilities
  5. Public Schools

Resources for Athletic Trainers

Individuals interested in athletic training may also be interested in occupational therapy, physical therapy, kinesiology, exercise physiology, or music therapy.  As the largest national association in the training industry, NATA may be a organization worth researching.  Students and seasoned professionals have the opportunity to network, learn about the industry, and share vocational insights via a common organization.

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Career Summary: Athletic training Major




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