What Can You Do with an Athletic Training Degree?

Athletic trainer aiding female athlete with referee

Athletic trainers work to prevent, diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries, especially among athletes. They help people learn to exercise safely and effectively, and they guide patients through rehabilitation from musculoskeletal injuries. This is a rewarding career path for people who are passionate about athletics and interested in the health problems common among athletes.

Athletic trainers can find work with an athletic training degree, but most states also require licensure. After earning your undergraduate athletic training degree, you may need to take an exam to acquire licensure for the state you plan to practice in. Earning an athletic training degree and license can help you pursue any of the following careers.

Sports Athletic Trainer

Students who enroll in an athletic training degree program generally do so with the goal of working in a sports medicine setting, although there are other career options for athletic training graduates as well. Elementary, middle and high schools may hire athletic trainers, especially in larger school districts that have multiple sports teams. Most colleges also hire athletic trainers, and there are career opportunities at the professional level in every type of sport, including baseball, football and basketball. In these settings, athletic trainers may fulfill countless responsibilities, including:

  • Delivering first aid to injured athletes.
  • Diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Serving as a liaison between athletes, physicians and medical support staff.
  • Working with athletes to prevent musculoskeletal injuries.

Performing Arts Athletic Trainer

Sports teams are not the only groups in need of athletic trainers. Performing arts companies also hire athletic trainers to take care of their performers. Collegiate and professional performers must stay in peak physical condition between productions. Athletic trainers who work in the performing arts industry will work one-on-one with these performers to help them prevent injuries. When injuries do occur, the athletic training staff will diagnose and treat them to help the performers recover as quickly as possible.

Sports Coach

Sports coaches are responsible for teaching athletes the proper techniques and fundamentals of playing a sport. Some coaches work one-on-one with athletes while others work with entire teams. Additionally, there are multiple types of coaches that may work for any one organization. Baseball teams hire coaches for both batters and pitchers, for example.

Although coaches do not do the work of athletic trainers, having an athletic training degree may be a good starting point for individuals who aspire to transition into coaching. It is always helpful for sports coaches to have an in-depth understanding of the musculoskeletal system to prevent athletic injuries.

Coaches typically start out as assistant coaches and then may work their way up to head coaching positions. Sports coaches are hired by multiple organizations, including elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges, independent sports organizations and professional sports teams. While there is stiff competition for coaching jobs at the professional sports level, less competitive settings tend to offer more career opportunities.

Physician Assistant (PA)

After entering the athletic training field, you may decide to shift the focus of your career. If you would like to remain in healthcare, you might pursue a career as a physician assistant (PA). To become a PA, you will need to successfully complete an accredited PA program. Most aspiring PAs hold a bachelor’s degree and accumulate some experience in the healthcare sector before applying to a PA program. After graduating from the program, you will need to pass certification and licensure exams for the state in which you hope to practice.

Like athletic trainers, PAs are healthcare professionals. However, physician assistants work with all types of injuries and other medical conditions rather than working exclusively with musculoskeletal injuries. These professionals examine, diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of a licensed physician. Some PAs specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as pediatrics or urgent care.

The degree programs offered by Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions will prepare you for licensure in a wide variety of professions. If you are considering a career in athletic training, a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training can help you prepare for licensure in a broad range of careers in the health care field. To learn more about our college, click on the Request Information button at the top of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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