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Opportunities for employment as an athletic trainer have changed dramatically during recent years. Athletic trainers no longer work only in athletic training clinics at the college, university, or secondary school level. The employment opportunities for athletic trainers are more diverse than ever. A discussion of the various employment settings follows.


At the college or university level, clinical positions for athletic trainers vary considerably from institution to institution. In smaller institutions, the certified athletic trainer may have both clinical and teaching responsibilities. In some cases, if the athletic trainer is a physical therapist rather than a teacher, he or she may spend part of the time in the campus health center and part of the time in athletic training. Increasingly at the college level, athletic training services are being offered to members of the general student body who participate in intramural and club sports. In most colleges and universities, the athletic trainer is full-time, does not teach, works in the department of athletics, and is paid by the institution.

Some athletic trainers working at colleges and universities are employed as faculty members. These individuals may or may not be assigned clinical responsibilities. In addition to faculty responsibilities, it is most likely that these faculty members also serve as program directors and/or as researchers.


It would be ideal to have certified athletic trainers serve every secondary school and middle school in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 42 percent of public and private secondary schools have some access to a certified athletic trainer. Many of the physical problems that occur later from improperly managed sports injuries could be avoided initially if proper care from an athletic trainer had been provided. If a secondary school or middle school hires an athletic trainer, it is very often in a dual role as an athletic trainer with some teaching responsibilities. Most likely an athletic trainer comes to school in the mid- to late morning, teaches one or more classes related to sports medicine or another area such as anatomy, and then in the afternoon performs his or her athletic training responsibilities until the sports end in the early evening. For student athletic trainers who intend to seek employment in secondary or middle schools, obtaining a teaching certification in addition to their athletic training certification will enhance their chances of finding employment.

School Districts

Some school districts have found it effective to employ a centrally placed certified athletic trainer. In this case, the athletic trainer, who may be full- or part-time, fills a nonteaching position that serves a number of schools. The advantage is savings; the disadvantage is that one individual cannot provide the level of service usually required by a typical school.

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