How Can I Become a Sports Medicine Technician?

Research what it takes to become a sports medicine technician. Learn about education and licensing, job growth, and wages to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Kinesiology & Sport Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Sports Medicine Technician?

Sports medicine technicians, also known as athletic trainers, work with athletes to treat and prevent sports-related medical issues and injuries. They diagnose athletic injuries, provide immediate treatment for acute conditions and develop long-term rehabilitation strategies in order to help athletes return to top form. They may also develop and implement specific strategies for the prevention of particularly common injuries, such as concussions. In addition, they perform administrative duties, like writing injury reports and meeting with athletic directors about departmental policies.

The following chart gives an overview about what you need to know before entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum; many have master's degrees
Licensure/Certification Licensing or certification required in most states
Key Responsibilities Administer first aid and rehab treatments, create personalized programs for clients
Job Growth (2014-2024) 21% for all athletic trainers*
Average Annual Wage (2015) $46,940 for all athletic trainers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Sports Medicine Technician?

When you work as a sports medicine technician you are primarily a healthcare provider charged with preventing and treating sports-related injuries. Your workplace may be a physician's office, physical therapy center, hospital or university. You may also work with youth or professional sports teams. Alternative job titles for sports medicine technicians are physician extender and athletic trainer, coordinator or instructor.

You will administer first aid treatment, such as bandaging, and refer those with injuries requiring further medical care to a physician. You'll assist with developing and providing rehabilitation treatment, assessing an athlete's physical status and reporting findings to physicians and coaches. In many cases, you will create and enact programs to reduce injury and engage in public outreach.

What Should I Study?

According to O*NET OnLine, 25% of the respondents working as athletic trainers have a bachelor's degree (www.onetonline.org). The National Athletic Trainers' Association states that the number of certified athletic trainers holding a master's or doctoral degree is close to 70% (www.nata.org). As an aspiring sports medicine technician, you should look for health sciences or athletic training programs certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). You can expect to take courses in therapeutic modalities, biology, anatomy, physiology, statistics, biomechanics and research.

Will I Need a License or Certification?

Most U.S. states have statutes requiring some type of certification or licensing. Typically, licenses must be renewed periodically. In some cases, you may have to submit fingerprint cards and pass a background check. Licensing requirements may include passage of the certified athletic trainer exam, which is administered by the Board of Certification (BOC) for the Athletic Trainer. To take the BOC exam, you must have graduated from a 4-year degree program accredited by the CAATE.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field was expected to grow faster than the average of all other occupations, at 21% from 2014-2024. Sports-related injuries are occurring at younger ages resulting in the need for rehabilitation, which is a factor in the career growth. The average salary as of May 2015 for an athletic trainer was $46,940.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in working with athletes, you could also consider becoming a sports coach. In this position, you would advise teams and/or individual athletes on all aspects of their training, including fitness, strategy, injury prevention and motivation. Most sports coaches have a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, if you're looking for a job helping patients recover from injury, you could also consider becoming a physical therapy assistant. These professionals help physical therapists give treatments that can help alleviate pain, and they teach patients exercises that can improve their strength and mobility. Physical therapy assistants need to have an associate's degree and a license to practice.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • George Mason University

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  • Georgetown University

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  • American University

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  • University of the Rockies

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