How Can I Become a High School Athletic Trainer?

Research what it takes to become a high school athletic trainer. Learn about: the duties of this job, the education requirements and salary range 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 a High School Athletic Trainer?

High school athletic trainers educate students on injury prevention and provide treatment to those who are injured. They may work with male and female athletes in a variety of sports, such as football, swimming, track, volleyball and more. High school athletic trainers try to attend as many sporting events as possible to provide first aid and evaluate injuries when necessary. They often follow up with injured students and develop rehabilitation programs to help speed up recovery. They must keep excellent records and reports of injuries and treatments. High school athletic trainers may also work closely with the athletic director to discuss budget issues and compliance with government regulations. The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum
Education Field of Study Athletic training
Certification and Licensure Certification through Board of Certification, Inc. and state license
Key Responsibilities Teach students and staff injury prevention, treat injuries that occur
Job Growth (2014-24) 21% for all athletic trainers*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $55,420 (for elementary and secondary athletic trainers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a High School Athletic Trainer Do?

In the active world of athletics, injuries are commonplace. That being the case, there is a constant need for education on the prevention of these injuries and proper treatment to heal those that have already occurred. As a high school athletic trainer, you'll be responsible for providing these services to high school coaches and athletes. Considered to be a healthcare professional by the American Medical Association, you'll often have to provide immediate assessment and first aid when an injury occurs on the field.

You may or may not work directly under a licensed physician, but you'll typically meet with one to get directions on how to handle certain injuries. A common task you'll do is providing protection from injury, generally before a sports activity, by bandaging, wrapping and taping injury-prone areas of athletes. Another part of your responsibility will be teaching people how to exercise in the right manner and use equipment properly to avoid injury. In addition, as a worker at the high school level, you may even work as a teacher for part of the day. Finally, it's important to note that athletic trainers are not the same as fitness trainers, who do not focus on injury prevention and treatment but rather assist others in attaining their fitness goals.

What Requirements Must I Meet To Get a Job?

According to the BLS, you'll typically need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. You'll take courses like anatomy, biomechanics and physiology and obtain hands-on experience through clinical training. To work in the public school system, you may also need to obtain a teacher certificate or license.

You'll likely need to obtain licensure because 47 states require it. To be qualified to practice in these 47 states, you'll have to be certified by the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC), which requires a bachelor's or master's degree and passing an exam. To maintain certification, you'll need to continue taking medical classes and consistently follow the standards established by the BOC.

What is the Job Outlook for This Career?

According to the BLS, employment in this field is expected to grow much faster than other occupations. Specifically, the BLS expects employment of athletic trainers to increase by 21% between 2014 and 2024. In fact, the BLS also reports that in some states there is a major push to have athletic trainers in all high schools. Salary levels will vary based on your experience and where you work, but the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for athletic trainers at the elementary and secondary school levels was $55,420 in May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Recreational therapists and exercise physiologists are a couple of related positions that require a bachelor's degree. Recreational therapists work with various populations of people who may be recovering from illness or injury or managing a disability. They coordinate and lead different therapy programs that involve recreational activities meant to improve their patients' overall well-being. Some activities they may plan include aquatics, arts and crafts, sports, dance and more. Exercise physiologists specialize in helping patients who are recovering from different types of diseases. They work to increase body function, movement and overall health through exercise programs.

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