Athletic Trainer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Athletic Trainer, or Athletic Therapist, works alongside medical professionals, Coaches and Athletes to review the medical condition of Athletes and develop a health plan to meet the Athlete’s diet and fitness goals. Their main duties include analyzing and diagnosing Athletes’ injuries, designing customized nutrition and exercise plans and building rehabilitation and training programs to help Athletes recover from injuries.

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Athletic Trainer duties and responsibilities

Athletic Trainers continuously evaluate athlete conditions, injuries and illnesses, conducting diagnostic tests and exercises and communicating those results with medical professionals. Depending on the number of clients they work with and how extensive an Athlete’s team is, Athletic Trainers may have more or fewer responsibilities. Some common duties include:

  • Attending sports events to provide the needed on-site care
  • Conducting athlete intake assessments and maintaining medical records for all athletes
  • Coordinating with the management to maintain equipment inventory
  • Attending annual conferences and weekly staff meetings
  • Developing customized treatment plans and making appropriate recommendations for ideal steps in athlete care
  • Handling clerical tasks such as assisting with budgets, restocking supplies and maintaining inventory
  • Designing rehabilitation and training programs for athletes

What does an Athletic Trainer do?

Athletic Trainers are typically employed by universities, medical clinics or academic institutions to analyze an Athlete’s health or injury to develop a fitness and diet plan that helps them play well on their sports team. When an Athlete or student is injured, the Athletic Trainer works with their Coaches and families to design a custom plan to treat their injury and build their muscles. They usually receive direction and confirmation from doctors and licensed health care professionals to more accurately diagnose and treat injuries. 

Athletic Trainers can be found at athletic events watching the players and providing emergency medical care to them if they’re injured by using devices like braces or athletic tape. When the Athlete is recovering, the Athletic Trainer will perform rehabilitation services to prevent further injuries and illnesses and to get them back into shape.

Athletic Trainer skills and qualifications

An Athletic Trainer needs to be acquainted with a set of skills and qualifications. This will ensure a high level of professionalism in addition to improving their interaction with athletes. The essential skills and qualifications that potential Athletic Trainers should have include:

  • Teamwork, particularly in a medical setting
  • Excellent verbal communication
  • Professionalism
  • Ability to create a safe and productive environment
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality
  • Supply management skills
  • Scheduling skills
  • Organizational skills 

Athletic Trainer salary expectations

While there is not currently specific salary data for an Athletic Trainer on Indeed, Personal Trainers earn an average of $21.70 per hour. This is a comparable position, so pay should be fairly similar. Salary may deviate from the national average, however, based on region, experience level and the breadth of duties required.

Athletic Trainer education and training requirements

A candidate for the position of Athletic Trainer should have a bachelor’s degree in athletic training or a related field like sports medicine. They should also have basic knowledge of professional sports. Alongside these requirements, the candidate should also have a master’s degree in the corresponding field and be a licensed Athletic Trainer. An applicant may have to undertake further training focusing on Injury prevention and risk management, physiology and anatomy, medical conditions and disabilities, pathology of illnesses and injuries, nutritional aspects of diseases and injuries and therapeutic modalities.

Athletic Trainer experience requirements

A potential candidate should have at least 2 years of experience working with regular fitness clients or Athletes and 1 year of clinical experience. Athletic Trainers should also have basic first aid and CPR certifications. Having a current certification through the National Athletic Trainers’ Association is an added advantage. 

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Frequently asked questions about Athletic Trainers

 

What's the difference between a Personal Trainer and Athletic Trainer?

Athletic Trainers work with professional or student Athletes to help treat and prevent sports injuries. Personal Trainers usually work in fitness centers designing and leading workout routines and exercises for people. They often work one-on-one or in small groups to help their clients get into shape and maintain a fit body and healthy lifestyle. 

Personal Trainers usually teach a variety of exercises from yoga to pilates to weightlifting, but they usually don’t have medical or health care experience or knowledge, like Athletic Trainers. Additionally, Athletic Trainers usually don’t participate in exercises with the Athletes like Personal Trainers do, and their roles don’t require them to stay physically active or fit like Personal Trainers. 

 

Do Athletic Trainers have different responsibilities for different industries?

There are many different settings and industries an Athletic Trainer may work in. Many of them hold similar responsibilities of keeping the Athletes healthy and recovering effectively. Some Athletic Trainers work for a specific sport, where they focus on certain muscles that other Athletic Trainers may not deal with for the sport they work in. For instance, track Athletic Trainers may work primarily on helping athletes strengthen and reduce injuries in their leg muscles, while tennis Athletic Trainers may focus more on arm muscles. 

Some Athletic Trainers may work with Athletes who play several different sports, so they must know how to take care of all parts of the body. They may serve as Athletic Trainers for middle or high schools, taking care of students who play several sports.  

 

Who does an Athletic Trainer report to?

An Athletic Trainer typically reports to the Athletic Director of an institution. The Athletic Director supervises and coordinates sporting events at colleges, high schools or other facilities. They’re often in charge of managing the budget and overseeing big picture tasks to ensure the athletic programs are running smoothly. If an Athletic Trainer is having issues or has complaints about their role or any Athletes, they report this to the Athletic Trainer for them to handle and resolve. Athletic Trainers may also report to the Coach each day with updates on the health and wellbeing of players. Both the Coach and Athletic Trainers’ supervisor is usually the Athletic Director.

 

Who reports to an Athletic Trainer?

If the Athletic Trainer is in charge of caring for several Athletes, they may have an Athletic Trainer Assistant who reports to and assists them. They typically collect and store status updates of Athletes’ health records and file reports of their progress during sessions with the Athletic Trainer. Athletic Trainer Assistants also ensure the athletes are following the Athletic Trainer’s rules and guidelines during sessions to ensure players are staying safe at all times. 

They can also guide athletes through basic training sessions like conditioning, stretching and strength-building techniques. Many Athletic Trainer Assistants shadow the Athletic Trainer as they gain experience and knowledge to prepare them for a future career as an Athletic Trainer.

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