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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

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
District of Columbia
$72,970
80
0.11
Hawaii
$62,340
120
0.21
Massachusetts
$62,110
810
0.24
Connecticut
$59,290
270
0.18
California
$59,280
1,410
0.09
New Jersey
$59,270
700
0.19
Rhode Island
$58,670
80
0.17
Texas
$57,950
2,540
0.21
New York
$56,160
990
0.11
Georgia
$56,080
1,100
0.25
Virginia
$55,410
900
0.24
Colorado
$54,980
360
0.14
Oregon
$54,710
270
0.15
New Mexico
$54,670
60
0.08
Vermont
$54,650
120
0.44
Minnesota
$53,660
780
0.29
Idaho
$53,320
90
0.13
Maryland
$53,000
410
0.16
Arkansas
$52,040
160
0.13
Wisconsin
$51,920
800
0.30
Arizona
$51,470
630
0.22
Pennsylvania
$50,980
1,520
0.28
Washington
$50,750
490
0.15
New Hampshire
$50,580
180
0.29
Ohio
$50,070
1,110
0.22
Oklahoma
$49,890
230
0.15
Mississippi
$49,740
260
0.24
North Carolina
$49,700
1,140
0.27
Kansas
$49,560
350
0.26
Maine
$49,370
190
0.33
North Dakota
$49,090
150
0.37
Delaware
$49,030
60
0.15
Florida
$48,850
1,700
0.20
Illinois
$48,520
1,130
0.20
Louisiana
$48,350
280
0.16
Michigan
$48,160
1,040
0.26
Wyoming
$48,160
60
0.22
Utah
$48,100
290
0.20
South Dakota
$48,090
130
0.31
Indiana
$47,840
720
0.25
Nebraska
$47,150
240
0.26
Tennessee
$47,090
710
0.25
Missouri
$46,040
520
0.19
South Carolina
$45,960
590
0.29
Montana
$45,650
80
0.17
Iowa
$45,040
420
0.29
Alabama
$44,970
420
0.22
Kentucky
$44,400
470
0.26
West Virginia
$43,180
130
0.19
Nevada
$37,580