20 Pros and Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer

The pros of being an athletic trainer are building strong relationships with athletes, significantly impacting student-athletes’ lives, potential for high salaries, diverse working environments, and job satisfaction from athletes’ successful recovery.

The cons of being an athletic trainer are a demanding workload with high responsibility, long and irregular working hours, a highly competitive job market, frequent travel requirements, and the emotional strain of dealing with injured athletes.


  • Athletic trainers experience job satisfaction and personal growth through helping athletes, building relationships, and developing key skills while influencing athletes’ well-being and performance.
  • The work environment is challenging, combining physical demands and mental resilience, with a variety of medical responsibilities and daily variability.
  • The role involves handling physical demands like managing injuries and bodily fluids, adapting to irregular hours, and maintaining cleanliness in high-intensity settings.
  • Athletic trainers often face high-impact situations with irregular hours, including emergency response, travel commitments, and challenges in work-life balance and resource availability.

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

Athletic Trainer explaining rehab exercises for athletes - Luxwisp
  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.

Cons of Being an Athletic Trainer

Athletic Trainer assisting runner with ankle injury - Luxwisp
  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 Satisfaction

Athletic Trainer advising athlete on nutrition plan - Luxwisp

One major determinant of an athletic trainer’s career is the level of job satisfaction experienced in their role. Job satisfaction for athletic trainers is derived from various factors.

Firstly, the opportunity to help athletes maintain their performance or return to the sport they love can be incredibly fulfilling. This sense of fulfillment is further amplified by the relationships and trust built with athletes, which leads to better communication and cooperation, ultimately contributing to job satisfaction.

Athletic trainers also find satisfaction in being a positive influence during a critical period in athletes’ lives, which can shape their future. Additionally, the camaraderie with athletes, coaches, and fellow athletic trainers creates a supportive environment, enhancing overall job satisfaction.

Ultimately, the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of athletes every day contributes to the rewarding feeling and job satisfaction experienced by athletic trainers. These factors collectively make job satisfaction a crucial aspect of an athletic trainer’s career, influencing their overall professional fulfillment and success.

Challenging Work Environment

Athletic trainers face a physically demanding job that requires them to be constantly on their feet, moving from one high-impact setting to another.

Their daily responsibilities are varied, as they must be prepared to handle a wide range of medical issues and emergencies.

This creates a work environment that is both physically and mentally challenging, requiring athletic trainers to be adaptable and resilient.

Physical Demands of Job

Athletic Trainer preparing ice bath for recovery - Luxwisp

Working as an athletic trainer entails managing challenging physical demands in the work environment. These demands include handling bodily fluids, treating injuries, and adapting to irregular working hours.

The physical demands of the job require athletic trainers to be prepared for various situations. This includes working with clients who sweat and dealing with bodily fluids. Additionally, dressing and treating bloody wounds is also part of the job, including during games. Athletic trainers are responsible for cleaning the workplace and disposing of bandages.

Moreover, the irregular working hours, long hours, and potential work on weekends or holidays contribute to the demanding nature of the job. Athletic trainers often attend tournaments, games, matches, and meets that occur at nights, weekends, and holidays. This further adds to the challenging and unpredictable schedule of an athletic trainer.

High Impact Settings

In high impact settings, athletic trainers often face irregular working hours, high-stakes situations, and extensive travel commitments, creating a challenging work environment.

The nature of the job requires attendance at tournaments, games, matches, and meets, which frequently occur during nights, weekends, and holidays, leading to unpredictable and irregular working hours.

Moreover, athletic trainers are often the first responders in high-stakes situations, such as on-field injuries, necessitating quick thinking and decisive action under pressure.

Additionally, the extensive travel commitments, with frequent visits to different cities and stadiums, can strain personal life and make it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The demanding and high-pressure nature of the profession, coupled with the lack of sufficient funding and staffing, can further exacerbate the challenges faced by athletic trainers in high impact settings.

Varied Daily Responsibilities

Athletic Trainer discussing with concerned player - Luxwisp

Amidst the demanding nature of high impact settings, athletic trainers frequently encounter a wide array of daily responsibilities, necessitating adaptability and quick decision-making. This challenging work environment is characterized by:

  • Developing and implementing injury prevention programs to ensure athletes’ well-being.
  • Designing and adjusting training plans to accommodate individual athlete needs and facilitate peak performance.
  • Providing immediate injury assessment and implementing appropriate treatment and rehabilitation protocols.

These varied responsibilities demand a high level of expertise and the ability to juggle multiple tasks efficiently. Athletic trainers must be prepared to handle the unpredictable nature of sports injuries and the dynamic needs of athletes, making for a stimulating and demanding work environment.

Opportunity for Personal Growth

Athletic Trainer conducting fitness test on treadmill - Luxwisp

One can experience significant personal growth as an athletic trainer through the meaningful relationships built with athletes, coaches, and fellow trainers.

Working closely with athletes provides an opportunity to develop empathy, patience, and communication skills. As an athletic trainer, you play a pivotal role in the well-being and performance of the athletes, which can lead to a sense of fulfillment and personal growth. Building trust and rapport with athletes not only enhances their performance but also contributes to your own personal development.

Additionally, the camaraderie and collaboration with coaches and fellow trainers create a supportive environment, fostering personal and professional growth. The shared goal of ensuring the athletes’ well-being and success cultivates a sense of teamwork and community, providing opportunities for mutual learning and growth.

Being a positive influence during a critical period in athletes’ lives can also shape their future, providing a rewarding experience and further contributing to personal growth. Making a positive difference in the lives of athletes every day is not only fulfilling but also enriching for personal development.

Long and Irregular Hours

As an athletic trainer, navigating long and irregular hours is an inherent aspect of the profession that demands adaptability and commitment to the athletes’ well-being and performance.

This aspect of the job presents both challenges and opportunities, including:

  • Flexibility: Athletic trainers must be prepared to work during evenings, weekends, and holidays to accommodate the schedules of sporting events. This flexibility allows for a dynamic work environment but may also require personal sacrifices.
  • Varied Environments: The nature of the job often entails traveling to different locations, staying in hotels, and following the schedules of athletes or teams. This provides an opportunity for diverse experiences but can also lead to a lack of routine.
  • Work-Life Balance: The irregular hours can make it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance, with the potential for working on weekends or holidays. However, this can also provide the advantage of regular full-time hours, particularly for those working with professional sports teams.

Navigating these long and irregular hours requires a dedicated and resilient mindset, as well as a willingness to prioritize the well-being and performance of the athletes above personal conveniences.

Impact on Athletes’ Lives

Athletic Trainer leading team warm-up exercises  - Luxwisp

Athletic trainers have a significant impact on athletes’ lives through injury prevention strategies, performance enhancement techniques, and rehabilitation support and guidance. By working closely with athletes, trainers can help prevent injuries and enhance their overall performance, contributing to their long-term success.

Additionally, providing rehabilitation support and guidance can aid in athletes’ recovery and contribute to their overall well-being.

Injury Prevention Strategies

The implementation of effective injury prevention strategies significantly impacts the lives and performance of athletes, highlighting the crucial role of athletic trainers in maintaining athletes’ well-being and success.

  • Customized Training Programs: Tailoring exercises and routines to individual athletes can help prevent injuries by addressing specific weaknesses and imbalances.
  • Injury Screening and Assessment: Regular screenings and assessments enable trainers to identify potential issues early on, allowing for proactive interventions and adjustments to training regimens.
  • Education and Empowerment: Teaching athletes about proper warm-up techniques, cooldown exercises, and injury management empowers them to take an active role in preventing injuries and maintaining their own well-being.

Performance Enhancement Techniques

While enhancing athletes’ performance through various techniques, athletic trainers play a pivotal role in maximizing their potential and overall well-being.

By utilizing performance enhancement strategies, trainers help athletes improve their strength, endurance, flexibility, and agility, leading to enhanced sports performance. These techniques also encompass mental conditioning, nutritional guidance, and injury prevention, contributing to the holistic development of athletes.

Moreover, athletic trainers foster a supportive and communicative environment, building trust and rapport with athletes to understand their individual needs and goals. This personalized approach not only enhances athletic performance but also positively impacts athletes’ lives by instilling discipline, resilience, and a strong work ethic.

Rehabilitation Support and Guidance

Through their expertise in rehabilitation support and guidance, athletic trainers significantly impact athletes’ lives and overall well-being. This impact is evident in several ways:

  • Personalized Care: Athletic trainers provide individualized rehabilitation plans tailored to each athlete’s specific needs, ensuring a focused and effective recovery process.
  • Emotional Support: They offer not only physical rehabilitation but also emotional support, creating a supportive environment for athletes during their recovery journey.
  • Long-Term Wellness: By emphasizing proper rehabilitation techniques and strategies, athletic trainers contribute to the long-term wellness of athletes, helping them prevent future injuries and maintain peak performance.

These aspects highlight the crucial role of athletic trainers in not only facilitating physical recovery but also nurturing the mental and emotional well-being of athletes, ultimately enhancing their overall quality of life.

Potential for Burnout

Athletic trainers face a high potential for burnout due to the demanding and high-pressure nature of their profession. The combination of long hours, irregular schedules, and the need to constantly balance the needs of athletes, administrative tasks, and continuing education can take a toll on personal life.

The demanding nature of the profession makes it challenging to maintain a work-life balance, and this can lead to feelings of fatigue, stress, and emotional exhaustion. The pressure to perform under high-stakes situations, such as managing athlete injuries and providing critical support during games or events, adds to the stress levels experienced by athletic trainers. Moreover, the physical demands of the job, such as manual therapy and injury prevention, can also contribute to burnout.

It becomes crucial for athletic trainers to prioritize self-care and relaxation to prevent burnout and maintain overall well-being. Developing effective time management strategies and seeking support from colleagues and mentors can also help mitigate the potential for burnout in this demanding profession.

Salary and Benefits

Athletic Trainer demonstrating proper lifting technique in gym - Luxwisp

The compensation and benefits for athletic trainers should be carefully considered when evaluating the overall appeal of this profession.

  • Competitive Salaries: Athletic trainers can expect competitive salaries, with the median annual wage for athletic trainers in May 2019 being $48,440. Moreover, the top 10% of athletic trainers earned more than $73,470, making it a financially rewarding career choice.
  • Comprehensive Benefits: Many employers provide comprehensive benefits packages, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, ensuring the well-being and security of athletic trainers.
  • Opportunities for Advancement: With the projected 14% growth in employment from 2018 to 2028, athletic trainers can look forward to good job prospects and opportunities for career advancement, potentially leading to higher salaries and more benefits.

These factors make the compensation and benefits of being an athletic trainer attractive, offering financial stability, security, and potential for career growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Most Common Injuries Athletic Trainers Address?
Athletic trainers frequently handle injuries like sprains, strains, fractures, concussions, and overuse injuries such as tendinitis.

How Does Athletic Training Affect Personal Life?
Athletic training can impact personal life through irregular hours and demanding work, but it also enhances skills in communication and cooperation.

What Are the Most Rewarding Aspects of Athletic Training?
The most rewarding aspects include aiding athlete performance, forming meaningful relationships, positively impacting students, and contributing to team success.

How Do Athletic Trainers Keep Up with Sports Medicine Advancements?
They stay updated through professional workshops, reading scientific journals, and fulfilling continuous education requirements for certification and licensure.

What Career Advancement Opportunities Exist for Athletic Trainers?
Career paths include becoming head athletic trainers, athletic directors, or pursuing roles in healthcare administration, with options to work across diverse groups and educational advancement.