College athletic trainers specialize in techniques to reduce injuries and restore function after injury. As health care professionals, they often work with physicians and provide immediate help to injured players. Unlike fitness trainers, who focus on strength and aerobic conditioning, they specialize in safety, injury prevention and rehabilitation. Athletic trainers for college teams often travel with the players and work long and irregular hours.
Wages of College Athletic Trainers
The average athletic trainer in a college, university or professional school earned an annual income of $44,250 in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey counted 3,660 athletic trainers in these schools in 2009. An additional 380 athletic trainers worked in junior colleges for an average of $44,800 per year.
Wages for Athletic Trainers in All Industries
The average athletic trainer in all industries earned $44,020 per year, according to the government's 2009 report. Those trainers below the 10th percentile earned less than $25,510 per year, while the highest-earning athletic trainers, over the 90th percentile, earned more than $65,140 per year.
Highest-Paying Industries for Athletic Trainers
The highest-paid athletic trainers in 2009 worked in spectator sports, where 760 trainers earned a yearly average of $54,710. A larger number, 1,560, earned an annual average of $52,090 working in elementary schools. The average pay for trainers in local government came to $51,390 per year, but only 70 had jobs in this industry at the time of the study.
Among metropolitan regions nationwide, the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area in Connecticut had the highest pay for athletic trainers in all industries, with an annual average of $73,830 in 2009. The District of Columbia came in second with an average income of $72,910. Athletic trainers in Salt Lake City, Utah, averaged $69,010 in 2009, and those in the Edison-New Brunswick, New Jersey, area averaged $63,090. The highest-paying states included Connecticut, where athletic trainers earned $62,590 on average, and Utah, where they averaged $58,920.
Education and Certification
Most athletic trainer jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, but many trainers also have graduate degrees. Courses in a college degree program usually include anatomy, bio-mechanics and nutrition, in addition to clinical work. As of 2009, 47 states required athletic trainers to have certification from the Board of Certification, Inc. or BOC. The District of Columbia, California, West Virginia and Alaska, do not require certification. However, athletic trainers who obtain voluntary certification will enhance their qualifications for advancement.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth of 37 percent from 2008 to 2018 for athletic trainers, not all industries will experience the same level of increase. Many jobs will open up for athletic trainers in high schools and in health care facilities, but competition will be keen for available jobs in colleges or universities and with professional sports teams.