Athletic trainers work in a wide variety of industries with many different types of clients, including professional athletes and industrial workers. Their main job responsibilities typically include diagnosing, assessing, treating and managing the rehabilitation of muscle and bone injuries. While a bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement for this career, many athletic trainers hold master’s or doctoral degrees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) reports that 70 percent of athletic trainers have a minimum of a master’s degree. The educational background of an athletic trainer can affect his salary.
As of 2008, the average annual salary for athletic trainers with master’s degrees was $44,707, according to the NATA Athletic Training Salary Survey Results. The 25th percentile earned an average of $35,000 per year, while the 75th percentile made an average annual salary of $53,000 per year. These averages were based on the work location and number of years of experience.
Athletic trainers can earn more if they work in top-paying industries. For example, athletic trainers who work for performing arts companies earned an annual mean wage of $58,700 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2010. Other top-paying industries for athletic trainers included spectator sports, which paid an average of $54,240 per year, elementary and secondary schools, which paid an annual mean wage of $52,840, and the local government industry, which featured an average annual salary of $48,040 for athletic trainers.
Athletic trainers who work in certain parts of the U.S. can earn more than their counterparts in other areas. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, athletic trainers in the District of Columbia earned an annual mean wage of $63,090 as of May 2010. Those in Connecticut earned an average of $56,420 per year. Athletic trainers in Texas made an average of $50,460 per year, while those in Hawaii earned an annual mean wage of $50,280. However, the top-paying location was Utah, where athletic trainers made an annual mean wage of $64,530 per year.
Comparison to Other Degrees
If you are considering becoming an athletic trainer, you may want to pursue a master’s degree or more to earn a higher salary. According to the NATA Athletic Training Salary Survey Results, athletic trainers who only held a bachelor’s degree earned an average annual salary of $39,096, or almost $6,000 less than those who had a master’s degree. Athletic trainers with a doctorate degree earned an average annual salary of $65,333 per year, which was more than $20,000 per year than those with a master’s degree.