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Employment Settings

Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) can be found almost anywhere people are physically active. Whether it's on the playing field or in an industrial work setting, ATCs are in place to help active people prevent injuries and stay healthy. Here are some of the places you will find certified athletic trainers:

Graduate School: Many colleges and universities supplement their full-time staff with graduate assistant athletic trainers. Graduate assistant ("GA") positions offer the student an opportunity to get an advance degree in exchange for providing athletic training services to their athletic or club teams. In addition to "waiving" all or a portion of the tuition fees, many colleges and universities provide a monetary stipend which makes securing a GA position quite competitive.

Secondary Schools: Public and private secondary schools offer abundant job opportunities for ATCs. This setting is expected to expand in the upcoming years as more parents and administrators are discovering the benefits an athletic trainer can offer in preventing and caring for injuries. In fact, in 1998 the American Medical Association (AMA) recommended certified athletic trainers be in every high school to keep America's youth safe. Those seeking employment in this setting may also wish to pursue teaching licensure/certification to increase their marketability since many high schools employ athletic trainers in a dual capacity.

Colleges & Universities: Opportunities at this level vary from institution to institution although they generally fall into two categories: athletic department staff assignment and combination instructor/athletic trainer. In smaller institutions, ATCs typically splits their time between providing athletic training services and teaching in an educational program. At larger institutions the athletic trainer is predominately assigned as a full-time service provider. The overwhelming majority of ATCs at this level possess academic degrees as well as clinical experience beyond the undergraduate level. Usually, athletic trainers start out as assistants and gradually move through the ranks. Athletic trainers at institutions offering a CAATE-accredited educational program may find non-service related opportunities as Program Directors or Clinical Education Coordinators.

Professional Sports: Although professional sports teams compete only a few months per year, ATCs work year-round conditioning and rehabilitating athletes. Fewer jobs are available in this practice setting due to the limited number of teams. However, many teams supplement their full-time staff by utilizing students or other certified athletic trainers as "interns" during training camps. Many of the current athletic trainers employed in professional sports secured a position by completing an internship or volunteering their time in this manner.

Sports Medicine Clinics: Employment in this setting was once considered "non-traditional" for athletic trainers yet today more athletic trainers are employed in this setting than any other. This growing setting provides ATCs the opportunity to work with a number of different health care professionals and a diverse patient population. In addition to athletic injury rehabilitation, many clinics provide athletic training services for secondary schools via outreach programs.

Military: Each branch of the U.S. military is increasing its use of athletic trainers. ATCs can be found as part of the health care team for active-duty injured service people, on- and off-base fitness and wellness centers, new-recruit readiness programs and pre-enlistment readiness programs, in addition to established military school sports teams.

Industrial & Commercial: In an attempt to control rising health care costs for employees companies are finding it extremely beneficial to use outreach clinics and full-time ATC employees for both work-related and non-work-related injuries. Athletic trainers in this setting may be asked to act as first-responder medical personnel, develop programs for injury prevention, as well as treat orthopaedic and musculoskeletal injuries.

Other athletic training employment opportunities include hospitals, health clubs, and the performing arts.

Information on this page was obtained from the "Athletic Training Career Information"