Athletic trainers work in all kinds of environments, from professional sports to hospitals and health clinics, according to the National Athletic Trainers' Association. One of the places they work is in schools, particularly in high schools, where organized sports are a regular part of the extracurricular environment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly every state requires that athletic trainers be certified or licensed to work, in addition to having a bachelor's degree and frequently a master's.
The National Athletic Trainers' Association conducted a survey of 2011 salaries for full-time athletic trainers. According to the results from 6,968 athletic trainers -- or ATs -- those working in a public high school earned an average annual salary of $52,935. That was an 11 percent increase from the $47,822 average in the 2008 salary survey. In private high schools, athletic trainers earned an average of $51,483 in 2011, up 15 percent from the 2008 figure of $44,811.
Overall, full-time athletic trainers earned an average of $51,483, according to the NATA survey. The best-paid trainers had worked their way up to professional football, where they earned $128,438 on average, while the lowest average belonged to trainers working in youth and recreational sports, at $38,994. Trainers working just a few grade levels below high school earned less than those in ninth through 12th grades. Those at public middle schools earned an average of $50,637, according to NATA, while those at private middle schools earned an average of $41,941.
Requirements for Certification:
To become certified, a would-be athletic trainer normally must start by graduating with a bachelor's degree from a program recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, according to the BLS. The next step is to pass an examination by the Board of Certification Inc. If the trainer meets these two steps and any other requirements of her particular state, she can apply to the government for licensure and begin work as a certified, licensed trainer.
The BLS also reports that trainers are in demand. Job growth for the profession as a whole is expected to reach 30 percent between 2010 and 2020, above the average for all occupations. Increased awareness of sports-related injuries such as concussions and their long-term effects, particularly at the youth and school levels, is expected to fuel growth -- good news for those hoping to work on a high school level.