An athletic trainer seeking employment in today’s job market is likely to encounter many problems and obstacles along the way.
The need for higher education greatly affects the prospects of athletic trainers with only a bachelor’s degree. Those with this degree are better suited to seek employment in rehabilitative therapy clinics. Many of these clinics have contracts with local high schools or universities, which allows for more employees and entry-level positions. Clinics also tend to employ student trainers who often move on after completing their education.
With third-party payees becoming more involved in this field, there should be an increase in job availability for athletic trainers in clinical settings. There are also many openings for trainers at the high school level. The downside to this area of work is that the position is not generally based on the care and concern for the health and well-being of the student athlete but rather on the budget. The most challenging field for an athletic trainer seeking employment is at the college level. Athletic trainers certainly need advanced degrees as well as certification from the National Athletic Trainers Association. Most athletic trainers at this level have accepted employment while in college or attending that particular university.
The college level for the athletic trainer position has not increased over the past few years due to the hiring of student trainers, leaving no openings for athletic trainers seeking full-time employment. There is a definite need for advanced degrees in today’s society for those seeking employment as athletic trainers, as the job field is very limited and openings are few and far between. To be fully prepared for the position of athletic trainer in today’s sports-related society, potential trainers need to obtain at least a baccalaureate degree with a designated course of study. They need to have thoroughly studied anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, rehabilitation, kinesiology, psychology, injury evaluation, and emergency care procedures and techniques. Before meeting the requirements to become eligible to test for the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), a potential trainer needs a minimum of 800 clinical hours of experience, or 1500 hours if not enrolled in an accredited athletic training education program. The NATA also requires continuing education units for a certified trainer to remain certified through them.
The steps to obtaining a career in the field of athletic training are fairly simple. A desire to work in the sports-related field is obviously the driving force for most. A BA is the minimum degree required, along with clinical hours of experience as noted earlier. Additionally, the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification requires continuing education classes to maintain and update your knowledge of new procedures. A Master’s Degree is often sought by the athletic trainer to further advance their career. A select few often go on to pursue a doctoral degree and progress on to become instructors.
Depending on the location of the high school, clinic, or university, the athletic trainer may encounter many different obstacles to overcome in the day-to-day running of the training office. A few of these problems include budgeting problems. Many athletic trainers have learned how to juggle funds and become extremely frugal to stay within budget limitations. Travel is also a challenge as there is often a need for the trainer to accompany the team or athletes on the road to games and sports events, which poses a hardship on both the trainer’s life and their family’s life. Additionally, there will always be legal aspects of the job field to contend with for athletic trainers. There is a definite need for the explicit following of all rules and procedures in order to try to prevent any legal ramifications.
While employed at any particular school or clinic, a trainer should be covered at all times by the school’s liability policy. All athletes are required to sign a waiver when they decide to participate in the sport of their choice, and this too is a protective measure for both the trainer and the school or the clinic. Although it may seem like the problems, along with the dismal job openings, are a great deal to contend with when one is contemplating choosing the field of Athletic Training, there are a great many pluses to this field too.