Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC)

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Athletic trainers develop training programs and routines designed to improve athletes’ performance and achieve their personal best.
  • They also assess sports injuries, providing appropriate treatment, educate athletes on injury-prevention programs, and healthy lifestyles as well as help with rehabilitation after an injury.
  • They conduct an initial assessment of an athlete’s injury or illness in order to provide emergency or continued care, and to determine whether they should be referred to physicians for definitive diagnosis and treatment.
  • Athletic trainers advise athletes on the proper use of equipment and apply protective or injury preventive devices such as tape, bandages, or braces to body parts such as ankles, fingers, or wrists.
  • They work in collaboration with physicians and coaches, insuring that treatment plans are followed and athletes are not returned to the game prematurely.
  • Athletic trainers work with school sports teams, professional sports, or in sports medicine clinics or health clubs.
  • They spend much time in gyms and locker rooms and on the road traveling to games.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Can work irregular work hours.
  • Can work full-time year round or on a seasonal basis that varies with each sport.
  • May have to seek other employment in off-season; often this is found at hospitals or clinics.

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • Students should study biology, anatomy & physiology, chemistry, and physics as well as basic first-aid.
    • Experience in sports/coaching is recommended.
  • Education and Training
    • Students in accredited Athletic Training Programs are educated in classroom and clinical settings.
    • Formal education includes many science and health-related courses, such as human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and biomechanics.
    • There are guidelines for the clinical education of students enrolled in accredited athletic training education programs that could include a laboratory class, an internship, a practicum, and/or a field experience course.
    • A student’s clinical education experience should include exposure to a physically active population that is, and has been, involved with high-risk physical activity.
    • Clinical education components should include a variety of clinical experiences, such as: four year colleges and universities, two year colleges, High Schools, clinics, hospitals, Industrial health care and rehabilitation clinics, professional sports and Olympic sports.
    • UW-La Crosse has an Athletic Training major that accepts 35 students who are observed for 2 semesters in volunteer athletic training center experiences. About 10 to 14 are then accepted into the program.

    Educational Institutions

    Cardinal Stritch University
    Carroll University
    Carthage College
    Concordia University
    Marquette University
    Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
    Ripon College
    University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
    University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
    University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
    University of Wisconsin – Madison
    University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
    University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
    University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
    University of Wisconsin – Superior

  • Method of Entry
    • Athletic Trainers must have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree through an accredited athletic training program or meet other requirements set by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC). Degree can be in Sports Medicine, Physical Education, or Athletic Training.
    • Athletic trainers are certified by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) after earning a college degree PLUS 800 hours of experience AND an examination.
    • Almost all jobs require NATA certification.
    • Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are available in athletic training.
    • A Master’s degree is preferred but not required while a Doctoral is required in order to teach at a university.
  • Professional Organizations

    American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
    9400 W. Higgins Road, Suite 300
    Rosemont, IL, 60018
    847/292-4900 or 877/321-3500

    NATA Board of Certification
    1415 Harney St., Suite 200
    Omaha, NE, 68102
    402/559-0091 or 877/262-3926 (877-BOC-EXAM)

    National Athletic Trainers’ Association
    1620 Valwood Parkway, Suite 115
    Carrollton, TX, 75006

    National Strength and Conditioning Association
    1885 Bob Johnson Dr.
    Colorado Springs, CO, 80906
    719/632-6722 or 800/815-6826

    Wisconsin Athletic Trainers’ Association


Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 590
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 18%
Expected Annual Openings: 30
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $46,689

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Irregular work hours are common, including part-time, evening, and weekend hours.
  • During playing seasons they may end up working 10 hours a day, 6-7 days a week as well as evenings and weekends.
  • Games are usually evenings, weekends or holidays.
  • As the most desirable position is with a professional team, Trainers usually begin their career at the high school level, gain experience and progress to college and professional level.
  • Athletic Trainers advance by gaining more education and responsibilities.
  • At the high school level, Trainers may advance by becoming district Athletic Directors.
  • Some move into administrative or staff positions at clinics, universities, or hospitals, where they are in charge of teaching and training programs.