Athletic Trainers with Master's Degrees: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an athletic trainer. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Athletic Trainer?

Athletic trainers work in high school, college and professional sports and in the health care industry diagnosing, treating and helping to prevent muscle and bone injuries. They typically work with athletes, but can work with people of all ages and athletic ability. Athletic trainers attend events to apply preventative devices, provide first-aid and address injuries as necessary. These professionals continue to work with injured athletes through the rehabilitation process as well. Athletic trainers may be responsible for various administrative tasks, including completing injury reports and paperwork for treatment plans. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Athletic training, exercise physiology
Key Responsibilities Assist injured athletes through recovery
Track patient progress
Design rehabilitation programs
Licensure Required License/certification required
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 21%*
Mean Salary (2015) $46,940* (all athletic trainers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Could I Earn as an Athletic Training With a Master's Degree?

According to July 2016 salary information on PayScale.com, athletic trainers with a master's degree earn a mean salary of $38,849 annually. They also reported that as of February 2017 athletic trainers with a bachelor's degree and 5-9 years experience earned an average annual salary of $57,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean salary for athletic trainers was $46,940 a year in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The majority of athletic trainers were employed at postsecondary schools, followed closely by hospitals, doctors' offices and recreational facilities, such as country clubs and ski resorts.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

As an athletic trainer, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, although a high percentage of workers possess master's degrees in areas such as athletic training or exercise physiology. A graduate degree can increase your job and advancement opportunities for employment at colleges and universities, where competition is high. If you're employed as a high school athletic trainer, you may also have teaching responsibilities that will require a teaching certificate or license.

Graduate level classes may include courses such as conditioning and rehabilitation, nutrition principles, advanced exercise physiology, orthopaedic surgical interventions, clinical education and upper extremities training principles. A master's thesis and a supervised teaching internship may be required.

Upon completion of your advanced studies, you can pursue jobs in college athletics programs, professional sports or secondary schools. You'll also be qualified to provide health care services in areas such as rehabilitative and therapeutic exercise, risk management and injury prevention.

What Type of Work Will I Do?

As an athletic trainer, you'll work with doctors and various health care professionals discussing treatment regimens and rehabilitation therapies for athletes or patients. As part of an athletic program, you may be the first on the scene to examine an athlete if an injury is sustained on the field during play. In these cases, you'll decide what medical treatment is needed.

Others duties include overseeing strengthening exercises and physical therapy, suggesting preventive measures and instructing patients on how to use braces and bandaging. You may also be tasked with administrative duties, such as providing your input on purchasing and operating budgets. Travel and long hours, including weekends, may be necessary when accompanying your sports team to games.

How Do I Become Certified?

You'll find most states require athletic trainers to be certified by the Board of Certification, Inc., the only accredited U.S. athletic trainer certification program. You'll need to possess a bachelor's degree from an approved program and take an examination. You must enroll in continuing education health and medical courses throughout your career to remain certified.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A couple of related professions that require a master's degree include occupational therapists and physician assistants. Occupational therapists work with people that have varying disabilities preventing them from working or performing everyday tasks. These professionals use different therapy techniques to improve the mobility and skills of these patients. Physician assistants work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to treat patients with various illnesses and injuries.

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