There are approximately 28,600 athletic trainers in the United States. Sports trainers are employed by professional and amateur sports teams, private sports organizations, sports facilities, sports medicine clinics, hospitals, secondary and intermediate schools, the military, educational institutions, and by individual athletes. Other possible athletic-training employment opportunities can be found in corporate health programs, health clubs, clinical and industrial health care programs, and athletic training curriculum programs.
Athletic trainers, regardless of the professional organization they join, are usually required to complete a period of training with a certified athletic trainer or sports medicine therapist. These internships provide students with the foundation for future networking possibilities. Many students find full-time jobs with the teams, organizations, or school districts with which they interned. At the very least, these internships offer students the chance to make valuable contacts and gain valuable on-the-job experience.
Most accredited programs in athletic training also have career services departments that host recruitment seminars with major organizations, provide career counseling services, and put students in contact with prospective employers.
Finally, one of the benefits to belonging to a professional organization is that these associations publish newsletters and maintain Web sites, both of which list job openings. Through these media, as well as through meetings, seminars, and continuing education, students and trainers can make new contacts that will help them locate work and add to their base of knowledge. The National Athletic Trainers' Association, for example, offers job openings in all athletic training settings and locations at its Web site, https://jobs.nata.org.
Acquiring additional training and education is the most common way of advancing in the field of sports training. Those trainers who have spent years working in the field and who update their skills each year by taking continuing education courses, sometimes even returning to school for an advanced degree, will be among the first to receive promotions.
Management responsibilities are the other way in which athletic trainers can advance in their field. Large universities often employ several trainers to serve the many different teams, with one trainer acting as the head trainer, sometimes also called the director of sports medicine. This individual coordinates the daily activities and responsibilities of the other trainers and works closely with the coaches of the school's various teams to ensure that all the demands are being met. Most often, trainers advance by working for several years at one school and then move on to another school when an opening is announced that will mean greater responsibilities and benefits.
Tips for Entry
Read the Journal of Athletic Training (https://meridian.allenpress.com/jat) and the Athletic Training Education Journal (https://meridian.allenpress.com/atej/issue) to learn more about the field.
Visit https://jobs.nata.org for job listings.
Attend the National Athletic Trainers' Association’s Clinical Symposia & Athletic Training Expo to network and participate in continuing education classes.
Visit https://www.nata.org/professional-interests/emerging-settings for information on emerging practice areas for sports trainers.