Doctoral Degrees in Athletic Training

Career summary: Athletic Trainers

Average Salary

$45,630

National Average, Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook

Very Good

19% job growth by 2022, which is much faster than average

Earn a degree in athletic training from an accredited college

One of the best ways to prepare for a career in athletic training is through a college education. A Doctoral Degree will help you develop entry level skills, general athletic training know how and the basic athletic training experience you need to start your career off right. You may also consider a Post-doctoral Certificate in Athletic Training to help you take your education and career to the next level. Please select athletic training school below.

Overview

Athletic training original

If you’€™re looking for a rewarding career where you can help people recover from an injury, consider an athletic training degree. This degree will prepare you to:


  • Practice preventative care

  • Recognize, diagnose, and evaluate injuries

  • Discuss personalized treatment options with patients

  • Collaborate with doctors, coaches, and others to develop rehabilitative programs

  • Perform first aid, CPR, and other emergency protocols

  • Monitor a patient’s healing process from time of injury to return to play

Most athletic trainers at least have a bachelor’€™s degree in athletic training, though more than 70 percent hold a master’s degree. Once you earn your accredited athletic training degree, you’ll qualify to take the Board of Certification exam, which is recognized in 49 different states to receive your license. Other specific requirements for certification to practice athletic training may vary by state.

Job Description

What do athletic trainers do?

Athletic trainers develop strength and conditioning exercises, movements, and stretches for patients. They also track patients’ progress to ensure they heal successfully and can safely return to playing their sport.

Athletic trainers are often one of the first specialists on the scene at a game or practice to place ice on a injured bone, apply bandages, or brace a sprained ankle. They also help assess and diagnose athletes with more serious conditions, such as concussions, and help to implement a treatment plan as recommended by a doctor.

Where do athletic trainers work?

Athletic trainers work for a variety of companies and organizations. Some of these include:


  • Public and private high schools

  • Colleges and universities

  • U.S. Olympic centers and sports teams

  • Hospitals

  • Health and fitness centers

  • Sports medicine clinics

Many assume that all athletic trainers work in sports, but that’€™s not true. Athletic trainers also work in corporate offices, the performing arts (with dancers and musicians), manufacturing plants, and even in the military.

Salary

How much does an athletic trainer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2016, athletic trainers earned a median annual wage of $45,630, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $30,300 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $69,140.

Athletic training positions are projected to grow by 21 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average rate compared to all other occupations.

Career Outlook

How popular are athletic training jobs?

Jobs in athletic training are very popular. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that jobs in the industry are expected to grow by 37 percent through 2018. That growth rate is much, much faster than the growth rate among all jobs. The main thing spurring the job growth is the recognition of their role in reducing health care costs. Job growth at universities and on professional sports teams are a little more conservative, as many teams have established medical departments. The real growth is coming in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and fitness and recreation sports centers.

Career Path

How to get an athletic training degree

To become an athletic trainer, you’€™ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. If you’d like to further your career, you can pursue a master’€™s and doctorate degree. These advanced degrees will provide you with more enhanced knowledge and experience in helping diagnose and treat patients back to full recovery. They can also lead to higher leadership positions in athletic training.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s in athletic training provides a solid curriculum that addresses all of the following:

  • Physical health and wellness
  • Rehabilitation in sports
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • How to care, treat, and prevent athletic injuries
  • How to tape and brace injuries
  • How to evaluate and perform first aid and emergency care
  • How to recognize any abnormal social, mental, and emotional behaviors in patients that may serve as signs of injury
  • Orthopedic evaluation and assessment

As part of the bachelor’s degree program, you’ll also be required to complete a number hours in clinical field experience. For example, at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, students are assigned to assist an athletic trainer in providing medical care to one the school’€™s sports teams.

Most bachelor’s degree programs in athletic training take three to four years to complete. The degree also prepares you for a master’s degree, which is offered on-campus, online, or a hybrid of the two.

A Master’€™s Degree

More than 70 percent of athletic trainers hold a master’€™s degree, which usually takes about two years to complete. A master’€™s degree provides you with enhanced knowledge and skills on topics, such as:


  • Nutrition and conditioning principles to improve sports performance

  • Health technology

  • Advanced exercise physiology

  • Orthopedic surgical interventions

  • Prevention and emergency management techniques

If you graduated with a bachelor’s in a non-athletic training degree but want to pursue a master’s in this field, you can find an accredited entry-level master’s degree program, such as at Stephen F. Austin University or Spalding University.

A master’s degree in athletic training allows you to participate in higher level clinical rotations at a variety of athletic programs in high schools, colleges, professional sports teams, and more. You’€™ll also be better positioned to obtain leadership and management opportunities, such as:

  • Head athletic trainer
  • Athletic director
  • Clinic practice administrator
  • Recreation leader
  • Exercise leader
  • Coach

Doctorate Degree

Along with a bachelor’s and a master’€™s degree, you can go on to earn your doctorate in athletic training, where you’€™ll gain expertise in areas like:

  • Performing research in athletic healthcare
  • Advanced clinical decision-making when diagnosing and treating patients
  • Evaluating the safety of healthcare in athletic programs
  • Professional leadership

Program Accreditation

All bachelor’€™s, master’€™s, and doctorate degrees in athletic training must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), which defines and measures the quality of athletic training degree programs.

It’€™s also important to note that by fall 2022, the minimum requirements to become an athletic trainer will be changed from a bachelor’€™s degree to a master’s degree. As a result, athletic training bachelor’€™s degree programs will no longer be allowed to admit or enroll students.

Prior to 2022, students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in athletic training do not need a master’€™s degree to be eligible for the Board of Certification license exam.

Is An Athletic Training Degree Right for You?

A career as an athletic trainer is beneficial in so many ways, from performing life-saving skills like CPR on the scene to helping patients get back on their feet to do what they love. The time spent working closely and communicating with your patients will lead to a relationship of mutual trust and confidence.

Before enrolling in a bachelor’s or master’€™s program for athletic training, make sure the program is accredited by CAATE so you can qualify to take the licensure exam. To find an accredited program, visit CAATE’s website.

Once you pass your exam, you can choose to work in your preferred environment, whether it’€™s at a school or university or a fitness center.

With a positive job outlook, athletic trainers are high in demand, which is a good sign that you won’t have trouble finding a job once you graduate.

Sources

  • University of Nevada Las Vegas
  • Spalding University
  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • National Athletic Trainers Association
  • Appalachian State University

Salary and career outlook data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Learning Format

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