athletic trainer job insights

20 Pros and Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer

Being an athletic trainer is a blend of rewarding highs and challenging lows. On the bright side, you get to help athletes of all ages, prevent injuries, and even customize training plans. There’s joy in seeing their progress and the field is growing steadily, promising plenty of job opportunities. However, the work can be demanding with irregular hours, nights, and weekends. Sometimes there’s limited support from coaches and athletes who prefer easy fixes, making it tough. Balancing personal life amidst a busy schedule is another hurdle. Dive deeper into these nuances and discover what else this dynamic career entails!


  • Career growth is promising with a projected 19% employment increase.
  • Job satisfaction is high due to positively impacting athletes’ futures.
  • Demanding schedules and irregular hours can disrupt work-life balance.
  • Inadequate funding and limited authority can hinder effective treatment.
  • Diverse work environments offer varied and enriching experiences.

Quick Facts About Athletic Trainers

  1. Specialization:
    • Focus on preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries.
    • Work with all ages and skill levels.
  2. Work Environments:
    • Educational settings (colleges, schools).
    • Hospitals, fitness centers, sports teams.
  3. Education and Certification:
    • Bachelor’s degree typically required.
    • Master’s degrees common.
    • Licensing or certification required in nearly all states.
  4. Skills Required:
    • Accurate record-keeping.
    • Organization and time management.
    • Inquisitiveness and a desire to help.
  5. Salary (as of May 2022):
    • 10% earn $39,670.
    • 25% earn $47,320.
    • Median wage $53,840.
    • 75% earn $63,240.
    • 90% earn $78,000.
  6. Job Outlook (2022-2032):
    • Expected growth of 14%.
    • Approximately 2,700 openings annually.
  7. Roles and Responsibilities:
    • Critical in sports healthcare.
    • Continuous education for skill update.


Pros of Being an Athletic TrainerCons of Being an Athletic Trainer
Relationship BuildingDemanding Workload
Helping AthletesLong Working Hours
Significant Impact on StudentsCompetitive Work Environment
Potential for High SalaryFrequent Travel
Job Growth OpportunitiesChallenges with Parents and Coaches
Diverse Work EnvironmentsPhysical Demands of the Job
Comprehensive BenefitsEmotional Strain from Athlete Injuries
Continuing Education SupportRequirement for Continuous Education
Job Satisfaction from Positive OutcomesJob Security Concerns in Certain Settings
Active and Engaging WorkPotential for Workplace Conflicts

Pros of Being an Athletic Trainer

  1. Relationship Building: Athletic trainers have the unique opportunity to develop deep and meaningful relationships with athletes, coaches, and fellow trainers. These relationships often go beyond the professional realm, as trainers become integral parts of athletes’ lives, guiding them through challenges and celebrating their successes. The emotional bonds formed can be incredibly rewarding and enriching, both personally and professionally.
  2. Helping Athletes: One of the most gratifying aspects of being an athletic trainer is the ability to help athletes maintain or regain peak performance. This includes not only treating injuries but also educating athletes on how to prevent them and improve their overall performance. Seeing an athlete recover and succeed because of their guidance is a powerful motivator and a source of professional pride.
  3. Significant Impact on Students: Working with student-athletes during a pivotal time in their lives allows athletic trainers to make a substantial impact. They often serve as mentors, providing guidance and support that shapes these young individuals’ futures, both in and out of sports. This role can be incredibly fulfilling, knowing they are contributing positively to the development of the next generation.
  4. Potential for High Salary: Athletic training can be a financially rewarding career. With the potential for high salaries, especially for those with experience or who work in high-profile sports settings, it can provide a comfortable lifestyle. This financial stability is an attractive aspect of the career, allowing for personal and professional growth.
  5. Job Growth Opportunities: The field of athletic training is experiencing significant employment growth, offering numerous job opportunities. This growth means that qualified trainers are in high demand, which can lead to greater job security and the potential for career advancement.
  6. Diverse Work Environments: Athletic trainers have the flexibility to work in various settings, including educational institutions, hospitals, fitness centers, and with professional sports teams. This diversity allows them to find a niche that best suits their interests and skills, making their work experience more enjoyable and fulfilling.
  7. Comprehensive Benefits: In addition to salary, many athletic trainers receive standard benefits like paid holidays, health insurance, and retirement plans. These benefits contribute to a more secure and stable working environment, making the profession more attractive.
  8. Continuing Education Support: Many employers in the field of athletic training support their employees’ professional development by funding continuing education credits. This commitment to ongoing learning ensures that trainers remain at the forefront of their field, enhancing their skills and knowledge.
  9. Job Satisfaction from Positive Outcomes: Seeing the direct results of their work, such as an athlete returning to play after an injury, provides a high level of job satisfaction for athletic trainers. This positive reinforcement is a key motivator and makes the job emotionally rewarding.
  10. Active and Engaging Work: The nature of athletic training is physically active and mentally engaging, keeping trainers on their toes and involved in dynamic situations. This active work environment can be more appealing than a traditional desk job, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.
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Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer

  1. Demanding Workload: The role of an athletic trainer is often filled with stress due to the significant responsibility they bear for their athletes’ health. The expectation to deliver high-quality outcomes, coupled with the autonomy required to make critical decisions, can be mentally and emotionally taxing.
  2. Long Working Hours: Athletic trainers frequently face long and irregular hours, especially when dealing with injuries or during sports seasons. This can lead to work-life imbalance, making it challenging to maintain personal relationships and engage in leisure activities.
  3. Competitive Work Environment: The field of athletic training is highly competitive, particularly for coveted positions in professional sports or prestigious educational institutions. This competition can create a high-pressure environment, where constant performance improvement is expected to advance or even maintain one’s position.
  4. Frequent Travel: Many athletic trainers need to travel regularly, accompanying teams to various locations for games and events. This constant travel can be draining and can interfere with a stable home life, often leading to fatigue and stress.
  5. Challenges with Parents and Coaches: Dealing with disagreements from parents and coaches regarding diagnoses and recommendations can be a significant challenge. These conflicts can create tense working conditions and may lead to second-guessing or undermining the trainer’s professional judgment.
  6. Physical Demands of the Job: The job can be physically demanding, requiring trainers to be on their feet for extended periods, carrying equipment, and sometimes assisting injured athletes. This physical strain can lead to fatigue and may increase the risk of occupational injuries.
  7. Emotional Strain from Athlete Injuries: Witnessing athletes suffer injuries and dealing with their recovery process can be emotionally challenging. Athletic trainers often develop close relationships with their athletes, making it difficult to see them in pain or unable to play.
  8. Requirement for Continuous Education: The necessity to continuously update skills and knowledge through ongoing education can be time-consuming and sometimes financially burdensome. Keeping up with the latest practices and technologies is essential but can add to the workload.
  9. Job Security Concerns in Certain Settings: While the field is growing, job security can vary depending on the setting. For instance, trainers working for educational institutions or sports teams may face job uncertainty if budgets are cut or teams are restructured.
  10. Potential for Workplace Conflicts: Working closely with a diverse group of people, including athletes, coaches, and medical professionals, can sometimes lead to conflicts. Navigating these interpersonal dynamics requires strong communication skills and can be stressful.

Job Responsibilities

Athletic trainers are responsible for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries among athletes, ensuring their peak performance and safety. These professionals work with individuals of all ages and skill levels, from young amateurs to seasoned professionals. Their role is pivotal in professional sports teams, where the stakes are high, and the pressure to maintain top performance is immense.

Athletic trainers must be adept at handling various athletic injuries, ranging from minor sprains to severe fractures. They employ their skills in individual training sessions, customizing routines to address each athlete’s unique needs. This personalized approach not only aids in recovery but also helps in preventing future injuries, keeping athletes in top form.

Additionally, athletic trainers must possess excellent record-keeping and organizational skills. They meticulously track each athlete’s progress, ensuring that all treatments and recovery plans are well-documented. This level of detail is essential for monitoring improvement and making informed decisions about an athlete’s readiness to return to play.

Curiosity and a passion for continuous learning drive athletic trainers to stay updated with the latest advancements in sports medicine. This inquisitiveness enables them to provide the best care, ultimately contributing to the success and longevity of their athletes’ careers.

Positive Aspects

four word summary provided

Being an athletic trainer offers numerous positive aspects. One key benefit is the professional growth opportunities that can significantly boost one’s career. The role also provides the chance to work in diverse environments, from schools to professional sports teams, making each day unique and exciting.

Additionally, the satisfaction that comes from helping athletes achieve their goals and overcome challenges adds a rewarding dimension to the job.

Professional Growth Opportunities

The field of athletic training offers professionals numerous avenues for career advancement, including roles such as head athletic trainer, director of sports medicine, and various healthcare positions. With the demand for athletic trainers on the rise, there are plentiful professional growth opportunities.

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Imagine starting as an entry-level athletic trainer and working your way up to a prestigious position like a director of sports medicine. The potential for career advancement is substantial.

Moreover, athletic trainers can explore diverse career paths within the field. Whether it’s working with high school athletes, college teams, or even professional sports organizations, the possibilities are vast. This breadth of options allows for significant professional growth and development.

For instance, someone passionate about injury prevention might find joy in a healthcare role, while another might thrive in a leadership position, guiding a team of trainers.

The job satisfaction in this field is also remarkable. Many athletic trainers take pride in making a substantial impact on student-athletes, shaping their futures, and contributing to their success.

Additionally, with approximately 2,700 annual job openings projected, the employment growth in athletic training is promising. This guarantees a steady stream of opportunities for those committed to advancing their careers.

Diverse Work Environments

In various professional settings such as schools, colleges, and professional sports organizations, the role of an athletic trainer offers unparalleled diversity in work environments. Imagine working one day with a high school football team, ensuring young athletes stay safe and healthy, then moving to a university setting where you might specialize in basketball. The following day, you could find yourself in a hospital or rehabilitation clinic, aiding patients in their recovery journey.

Athletic trainers have the unique advantage of working in industrial or corporate environments, offering injury prevention and rehabilitation services to employees. This diversity extends even further. Some athletic trainers partner with performing artists or dancers, ensuring they maintain peak performance. Others may work with military personnel, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of their skills.

Here’s a glimpse into the diverse settings where athletic trainers can work:

SettingExamplesSpecialized Sports
SchoolsHigh school teamsFootball, Soccer
CollegesUniversity athleticsBasketball, Baseball
Professional TeamsNFL, NBASpecialized sports
Hospitals/ClinicsPatient rehabVarious conditions

This broad range of work environments allows athletic trainers to tailor their expertise, making their career both dynamic and rewarding. The ability to move between these diverse settings keeps their work exciting and engaging, ensuring no two days are ever the same.

Challenges Faced

overcoming obstacles and difficulties

Athletic trainers encounter numerous challenges that can impede their effectiveness and overall job satisfaction. Despite being highly skilled professionals, they often face inadequate funding and staffing. This under-resourcing can limit their ability to provide excellent care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow, yet this growth is not always matched with the necessary financial and human resources.

Another significant challenge is the limited authority athletic trainers have without full support from coaches. When coaches do not back their recommendations, it can hinder their ability to implement effective treatment plans. Additionally, some athletes prefer passive treatment and may not fully invest in their rehabilitation. This can make the trainer’s job more difficult and less rewarding.

Balancing the demands of athlete care with maintaining personal well-being is another hurdle. The high-pressure environment and the need to be constantly available can lead to burnout. This busy nature of the profession can sometimes result in a lack of work-life balance.

While these challenges are substantial, they are part of the complex and demanding world of athletic training, requiring resilience and dedication from those in the field.

Work-Life Balance

striking a balance

Balancing work and personal life as an athletic trainer can feel like juggling too many balls at once. With long hours, frequent travel to events, and the need to accommodate athlete schedules, finding time for oneself becomes a real challenge.

Yet, managing personal time effectively and setting boundaries are essential steps to maintaining a healthy balance.

Long Hours Commitment

The demanding schedules of athletic trainers, which often include nights, weekends, and holidays, pose significant challenges to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Athletic trainers are frequently required to work irregular hours to accommodate the schedules of athletes. This means early mornings, late nights, and even working through holidays. Balancing these unpredictable hours with personal life can be tough. You might find yourself missing out on family events or social gatherings.

In addition to the irregular hours, athletic trainers often work in high-pressure environments. They need to be ready to make quick decisions to guarantee the safety and health of athletes. This constant state of readiness can be stressful, leaving little room to relax and unwind.

Despite these challenges, the role of an athletic trainer is incredibly rewarding. They play an essential role in keeping athletes healthy and performing at their best. Knowing that you are making a positive impact can be very fulfilling. However, it requires a strong commitment and the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities effectively.

Finding a balance between work and personal life is a continuous challenge, but with proper time management and support, it is achievable.

Travel Demands Impact

While irregular hours pose a significant challenge, the extensive travel demands on athletic trainers further complicate maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Athletic trainers work under immense pressure, frequently traveling to attend events, tournaments, games, and matches. This constant movement means their schedules often include nights, weekends, and even holidays, making it hard to carve out personal time.

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Imagine having to pack up for a weekend tournament at a moment’s notice. Last-minute changes in travel plans can disrupt routines and personal commitments, leaving athletic trainers to juggle between professional and private lives. Staying in hotels during these trips might sound glamorous, but it can strain relationships and create a sense of isolation from family and friends.

Balancing these travel demands with personal commitments is a tightrope walk. Athletic trainers must frequently miss family events or personal downtime to fulfill their job responsibilities. This constant back-and-forth can make achieving a work-life balance exceptionally tricky. Despite the passion many have for their careers, the travel demands undeniably impact their ability to maintain a harmonious personal life. Managing these demanding schedules requires not just dedication but also a willingness to adapt continuously.

Personal Time Management

Effective personal time management is essential for athletic trainers to mitigate the challenges posed by their demanding and irregular schedules. Athletic trainers often find themselves working long hours, which can include nights, weekends, and even holidays. This can make it really hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Imagine trying to juggle your professional responsibilities while also finding time for family, friends, and personal interests—it’s no easy feat! The unpredictable nature of athletic training schedules means that planning ahead can be difficult. When you’re constantly on call to manage athlete injuries or high-stakes situations, it can be tough to carve out time for self-care and relaxation.

Without effective time management, many athletic trainers may find themselves on the fast track to burnout. And let’s be honest, nobody wants to feel exhausted and overwhelmed all the time! Balancing work demands with personal life requires some serious strategy. Athletic trainers who prioritize their own well-being, set boundaries, and delegate tasks when possible are better equipped to handle the pressures of their job.

Financial Considerations

financial planning is crucial

Understanding the financial landscape as an athletic trainer involves grasping various income factors and potential costs associated with the profession. One must take into account financial considerations such as inconsistent income, especially if working with seasonal or part-time sports teams. Athletic trainers earn a median annual wage of $48,440 in the U.S. as of 2019, but this can vary widely depending on the setting and location.

For those considering self-employment, there’s the added burden of self-employment taxes, which can have a substantial impact on take-home pay. Additionally, costs like insurance and ongoing education are important elements to take into account. Athletic training programs often require significant investments in equipment and certifications, adding another layer to the financial puzzle.

Financial AspectDescription
Median Annual Wage$48,440 (As of 2019 in the U.S.)
Inconsistent IncomeCommon with seasonal or part-time sports teams
Self-Employment TaxesAdditional tax burden for self-employed athletic trainers
Equipment and CertificationsSignificant investment required for training programs and career advancement
Insurance CostsEssential for both employed and self-employed trainers

Moreover, while some might see the costs of gym memberships or personal trainers as barriers, they are essential for personal development and client service. These financial realities highlight the importance of budgeting and planning for anyone pursuing a career in athletic training.

Career Growth

career development and opportunities

The career growth prospects for athletic trainers are bolstered by a projected 19% employment growth from 2018 to 2028, attributed to the increasing recognition of their role in health and wellness. This surge in demand is exciting, opening up numerous opportunities across various sectors in the United States.

Athletic trainers can find themselves working with:

  • Secondary school sports programs where some states mandate their presence to guarantee student-athletes’ safety.
  • Professional sports teams providing care and prevention strategies for elite athletes.
  • Healthcare facilities collaborating with medical professionals to rehabilitate patients.

With a bachelor’s degree as the entry requirement, athletic trainers have a solid foundation to build upon. As they gain experience, they can advance into higher positions or specialize in areas like pediatric sports medicine or corporate wellness programs.

Career growth is further facilitated by the expanding recognition of athletic trainers’ contributions to preventive care and injury management, making their expertise valuable to both teams and organizations.

In essence, the profession offers a dynamic and evolving career path. Whether it’s on the sidelines of a high school football game, in the locker room of a major league team, or within a hospital setting, athletic trainers have diverse avenues for career advancement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer?

The cons of being an athletic trainer include potential personal injury, high stress levels, dealing with uncooperative individuals, long and unpredictable hours, and the difficulty of maintaining a consistent schedule due to dependency on athletes’ timetables.

What Are 3 Advantages of Being an Athletic Trainer?

Three advantages of being an athletic trainer include the ability to directly contribute to athletes’ performance and recovery, the opportunity to form meaningful professional relationships, and access to competitive salaries and career advancement in a high-demand field.

What Are Some Hazards of Being an Athletic Trainer?

Athletic trainers face hazards including exposure to bodily fluids, risk of musculoskeletal injuries, emotional stress from athlete injuries, irregular working hours leading to burnout, and lack of recognition, impacting their professional and personal well-being.

Do People Enjoy Being an Athletic Trainer?

The majority of athletic trainers enjoy their profession, as evidenced by 87% reporting high job satisfaction. Key factors include the rewarding nature of assisting athletes, building relationships, and witnessing the athletes’ successful recovery and achievements.


Being an athletic trainer comes with its share of highs and lows. The job offers rewarding moments, like helping athletes recover and succeed, but it also brings challenges such as long hours and physical demands.

Balancing work and life can be tricky, and financial rewards might not always match the effort. However, with dedication and passion, the career can provide substantial growth and fulfillment.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue this path depends on individual priorities and goals.


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