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Athletic trainers play a significant role in the management, prevention, recognition and rehabilitation of injured athletes. Under the supervision of a licensed physician, athletic trainers administer immediate emergency and follow-up care. They develop athletic injury prevention and treatment programs using their knowledge of biomechanics, anatomy and pathology.
Athletic trainers also provide a vital communication link between the injured athlete, the physician, the coach and sometimes the athlete's family to determine when it's right to return to practice and competition.
Career opportunities for athletic trainers are good. Each year, the profession grows by approximately 10 percent, which is about average for most professions.
The certified athletic trainer is a highly educated and skilled health sciences professional specializing in athletic health care. In cooperation with physicians and other allied health personnel, the athletic trainer functions as an integral member of the athletic health care team in secondary schools, colleges and universities, sports medicine clinics, professional sports programs, and other health care settings.
- High schools. Athletic trainers work to prevent and treat athletic injuries, which may happen during practice or competition. Athletic trainers may also teach at the high school during the day.
- Sports medicine clinics. Athletic trainers work with patients, providing treatment and rehabilitation, providing athletic training coverage for a high school or college, and conducting coaches' workshops and other sports medicine educational programs.
- Colleges. Athletic trainers cover practice sessions and home and away competitions, supervise the educational experiences of athletic training students, and may teach athletic training education classes.
- Professional sports teams. Athletic trainers work year-round with male and female professional sports teams, such as football, basketball, baseball, hockey and more.
The field of athletic training has grown very large in the last 20 years. In addition to sports teams, companies have started to hire athletic trainers as a medical service to employers and their employees. Employment can also be found in the armed forces, dance companies, medical sales and as physician extenders.
Salary is dependent upon many factors, including level of education, employment setting and experience. According to the 2011 National Athletic Trainers' Association salary survey, the average annual salary for full-time athletic trainers is $51,483, which is dependent on level of education, job setting, job location and years of experience.
The benefits you receive as an athletic trainer may include a paid vacation, health insurance and a pension plan.