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Your Guide to a Sports Medicine Education & Career

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Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings. While few actually work in professional sports, the majority are employed in high school or college settings. However, athletic trainers are needed in a wide range of settings. There are several emerging fields in athletic training that are creating more jobs for certified athletic trainers. As technical knowledge of injury prevention increases, so does the number of job prospects for new athletic trainers. The average salary is $44,030, with the top ten per cent earning over $60,000 annually. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) Pay and job prospects vary by setting.

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Most athletic trainers are employed in scholastic or health care settings. More than 21 percent of all members of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association are employed by secondary schools, since the American Medical Association recommended in 1998 that all schools with athletic programs have athletic trainers on staff. Athletic trainers in secondary schools work closely with high school athletes to prevent sports-related illness and injury. Secondary school athletic trainers work in a hands-on environment that involves interacting with athletes to diagnose and treat injuries and helping with daily tasks. Trainers who work in a secondary school environment can expect to be involved with the high school community. An account of a typical day in the life of a secondary school athletic trainer can be found here: A Day in the Life: Flower Mound High School Athletic Trainers. 

Another common place of employment for athletic trainers are colleges and universities. University athletic trainers may be aligned with either the school medical or sports department, depending on the program. Athletic training programs vary across institutions. University athletic trainers are focused on preventing and rehabilitating the injuries of college athletes. Some schools require that athletic trainers attend each practice, while others only require attendance at high-impact sports. Jobs in universities are generally more competitive than careers in secondary schools. However, more schools are recognizing the need for athletic trainers on staff to prevent injury. 

Emerging job settings for athletic trainers include the military, performing arts and health care offices and practitioners. Although athletic trainers typically work with athletes, they are needed anywhere people are physically active. Sports medicine is a growing industry since the importance of athletic trainers in preventing costly injury is recognized.

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