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How much do athletic trainers make? 

In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the average salary for athletic trainers to be $52,230 per year. Compensation for athletic trainers depends on a number of factors including their experience, where they work and their education. 

Athletic trainers often work in schools, hospitals, gyms and physical therapy offices. Some high-profile athletic trainers work for professional sports teams or with professional athletes. According to the BLS, these were the industries with the top-paying athletic trainer jobs: 

  • Spectator sports: $64,250 per year
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $62,500 per year
  • Junior colleges: $59,830 per year
  • Employment services: $54,080 per year
  • Health practitioner offices: $47,380 per year
  • Colleges, universities and professional schools: $53,870 per year

In addition to industry, location also matters when it comes to athletic trainers’ wages. The BLS reported the following cities as those with the highest average annual salaries for athletic trainers:

  • Trenton, New Jersey: $ 71,890 per year
  • Macon, Georgia: $ 68,350 per year
  • Houston, Texas: $ 67,280 per year
  • New Haven, Connecticut: $ 64,350 per year
  • Washington D.C.: $ 63,780 per year
A chart showing the average annual salary for athletic trainers in the United States, $49,860.

What do athletic trainers do? 

An athletic trainer is a person who specializes in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries. They work closely with athletes to ensure they are ready for play and help them recover from injury.

Job Duties: An athletic trainer is responsible for preventing injuries by teaching athletes safe movements, treating injuries, and helping with rehabilitation. They may also be responsible for educating the athlete on how to prevent injuries or how to recover from an injury if it occurs. In addition to preventing and treating injured athletes, trainers often create athletic training plans to help athletes improve physical conditioning. 

Skills: Athletic trainers need some medical knowledge as well as a good understanding of human physiology, anatomy, and pathology. They also need organizational skills because they often travel with teams to monitor the players' health and progress. 

How do you become an athletic trainer?

Education: Most athletic trainers have at least a bachelor’s degree. According to O*Net, 72% of athletic trainers have a master’s degree. They often have degrees in kinesiology or athletic training. 

Qualifications: In most states, athletic trainers must be licensed before they are able to practice. California is the only state in the U.S. that does not require athletic trainers to be licensed, registered or certified. 

A common path for athletic trainers who hope to work in states requiring a license or accreditation is as follows: 

  1. Graduate from a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)-accredited athletic training education program
  2. Sit and pass the state’s Board of Certification exam
  3. Apply for licensure with the state, if applicable
  4. Maintain certification through continuing education credits

How much do athletic trainers earn in each state?

The table below compares athletic trainer salaries across states and U.S. territories (Source: BLS Occupational Employment and Wages May 2020). You can also find data for the number of athletic trainers in each state as well as the number of athletic trainers per 1,000 jobs—a figure that can help you determine the job's popularity in a given location. Not all locations have employment statistics.

Athletic Trainer Salary
Location
Annual Salary
in location
Employment
In location
Employment per 1,000 jobs
Hawaii
$61,900
120
0.211
District of Columbia
$61,650
80
0.114
New Jersey
$60,730
700
0.185
Texas
$58,340
2540
0.210
Massachusetts
$58,230
810
0.242
California
$57,990
1410
0.086
Connecticut
$57,620
270
0.177
Rhode Island
$56,890
80
0.174
Vermont
$55,380
120
0.438
Oregon
$55,150
270
0.151
Minnesota
$53,650
780
0.289
Virginia
$53,290
900
0.244
Colorado
$52,780
360
0.140
New York
$52,750
990
0.114
Arkansas
$50,980
160
0.133
Georgia
$50,950
1100
0.254
Wisconsin
$50,750
800
0.297
New Mexico
$50,610
60
0.076
Maryland
$50,150
410
0.162
Washington
$49,570
490
0.154
Oklahoma
$49,510
230
0.148
New Hampshire
$48,780
180
0.292
North Dakota
$48,770
150
0.372
Ohio
$48,560
1110
0.216
Arizona
$48,540
630
0.223
Mississippi
$48,390
260
0.243
Nebraska
$48,120
240
0.256
Kansas
$47,930
350
0.264
Illinois
$47,470
1130
0.200
Indiana
$47,430
720
0.248
Pennsylvania
$47,430
1520
0.275
Maine
$47,410
190
0.328
Wyoming
$47,350
60
0.223
Delaware
$47,320
60
0.147
South Dakota
$47,300
130
0.313
Michigan
$47,020
1040
0.264
Idaho
$46,640
90
0.130
Tennessee
$46,600
710
0.245
Louisiana
$46,390
280
0.157
North Carolina
$46,350
1140
0.265
Montana
$46,230
80
0.168
Missouri
$45,740
520
0.193
Florida
$45,350
1700
0.201
Utah
$45,250
290
0.195
South Carolina
$45,050
590
0.294
Alabama
$45,020
420
0.222
Kentucky
$44,070
470
0.264
Iowa
$43,630
420
0.287
West Virginia
$42,560
130
0.194
Nevada
$24,670
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