What Can I Do with a Master's Degree in Athletic Training?

While you only need a bachelor's degree in athletic training to become a certified athletic trainer, the National Association of Athletic Trainers (NATA) reports that over 70% of athletic trainers possess a master's degree or higher. A master's degree in athletic training prepares you for a career treating athletes in the sports medicine industry. Read on for more information about what this degree can do for your athletic training career. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Master's Degree in Athletic Training Career Choices

Most states require athletic trainers to become certified. While certification requirements vary, the majority of states require athletic trainers to complete a bachelor's degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation and Athletic Training Education and to pass a test administered by the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC). You will be required to complete continuing education to maintain your certification.

A master's degree in athletic training can also prepare you to pass the certification test. These programs typically combine classroom lectures with clinical, hands-on experience in settings ranging from hospitals to high schools. Courses cover therapeutic modalities, anatomy of sports injuries, strength and conditioning principles, and more.

Once you graduate and gain certification as an athletic training professional, you will work with athletes and other physically active individuals in treating and preventing sports injuries, as well as promoting their overall individual health.

Important Facts About Athletic Trainers

Job Outlook (2014-2024) 21% growth
Licensure Mandatory in 43 states; requirements vary by state
Key Skills Good judgment and decision-making, attention to detail, empathy, social nuance
Similar Occupations Exercise physiologists, physical therapists, recreational therapists, physician assistants, chiropractors, massage therapists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Responsibilities

Upon completion of your master's degree and achieving certification, you are eligible for employment as an athletic trainer. Some of the typical job responsibilities include:

  • Educating athletes and coaches about the risks of athletic participation
  • Injury prevention
  • Applying preventative and therapeutic devices like braces and athletic tape
  • Treating injuries sustained in spite of prevention awareness
  • Developing rehabilitation plans for injured athletes

Work Environment

As an athletic trainer, your presence is needed in environments where sports and other rigorous physical activities are taught and practiced. This can include colleges and universities, secondary schools and performing arts companies. Certified athletic trainers are also employed by professional sports teams and amateur athletes, like those who compete in the Olympic Games. Also, by pursuing this career, you may be employed in one of the following clinical, governmental or legal settings:

  • Hospital
  • Physician's or orthopedic surgeon's office
  • Sports medicine clinic
  • Military branch
  • Law enforcement organization

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that athletic trainers earned a median annual wage of $43,370 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that the settings with the highest levels of employment at that time were in educational services, and some college and university positions require a master's degree or higher level in the field for employment.

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