An athletic trainer is a healthcare professional who works with physicians to improve a patient's quality of life. Their profession encompasses the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of chronic medical conditions involving disabilities, functional limitations, and impairments. As an athletic trainer, you will typically do various tasks, including recognizing and evaluating injuries, providing emergency care or first aid, and developing and implementing rehabilitation programs. You are also responsible for planning and implementing programs to help prevent sports injuries among athletes.

Athletic Trainer Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real athletic trainer resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Administer rehabilitation procedures and the safety of athletes at practices and games including ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
  • Evaluate and create a rehabilitation program for ankle sprains, fibula fractures, and shin splints.
  • Administer multiple therapeutic techniques for student athletes including electrical stimulation and ultrasound
  • Assist physical therapist in generating rehabilitation protocols for patients, progress exercises, order supplies for clinic and oversee aide scheduling.
  • Assist with OSHA record keeping.
  • Maintain cleanliness of gym and stations.
  • Attend a state Medicaid DUR meeting with Dr. Olin.
  • Perform audits over staff documentation to ensure notes are OSHA compliant.
  • Determine use of braces or splints, refer to physicians as needed.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of the trainer room and sanitize whirlpools, hydrocollators and coolers.
  • Have used CPR skills in real life situations and save the life of an athlete.
  • Assist with certifying local industries and school coaches in CPR providing information for emergency situations.
  • Perform therapeutic procedures by administering exercises, instructing, encouraging, and assisting patients in correctly performing physical activities.
  • Develop and administer rehabilitation protocols for clients to engage in progressive resistance exercises and weight loss for an overall healthy lifestyle.
  • Revise drug-testing policy and administer NCAA drug testing.

Athletic Trainer Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 20% of Athletic Trainers are proficient in Patients, Rehabilitation, and CPR.

We break down the percentage of Athletic Trainers that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Patients, 20%

    Assisted physical therapist in generating rehabilitation protocols for patients, progressed exercises, ordered supplies for clinic and oversee aide scheduling.

  • Rehabilitation, 19%

    Designed and administered injury rehabilitation protocols.

  • CPR, 12%

    Managed, and taught CPR, AED, and First Aid certification classes for all athletic coaches in our district.

  • Patient Care, 8%

    Provided quality patient care, created and executed rehabilitation programs, and maintained proper documentation standards.

  • Student Athletes, 5%

    Facilitated strengthening and conditioning and drills for student athletes for game preparation.

  • Athletic Injuries, 4%

    Worked closely with orthopedic and family practice physicians, rehabilitation professionals and coaches to manage all aspects of athletic injuries.

Most athletic trainers list "patients," "rehabilitation," and "cpr" as skills on their resumes. We go into more details on the most important athletic trainer responsibilities here:

  • Compassion can be considered to be the most important personality trait for an athletic trainer to have. According to a athletic trainer resume, "athletic trainers work with athletes and patients who may be in considerable pain or discomfort" athletic trainers are able to use compassion in the following example we gathered from a resume: "exhibit an excellent bedside manner by treating patients with compassion, patience, and respect while diffusing ailing and frustrated clientele. "
  • While it may not be the most important skill, we found that many athletic trainer duties rely on detail oriented. This example from a athletic trainer explains why: "athletic trainers must record patients’ progress accurately and ensure that they are receiving the appropriate treatments or practicing the correct fitness regimen." This resume example is just one of many ways athletic trainers are able to utilize detail oriented: "maintained detailed records on all rehabilitation patients. "
  • See the full list of athletic trainer skills.

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    What Exercise Physiologists Do

    An exercise physiologist is a health professional who analyzes the fitness of patients to help them improve their health or maintain good health. Exercise physiologists are required to help patients with heart diseases and other chronic conditions such as diabetes or pulmonary disease to regain their health. Certified exercise physiologists must administer exercise stress tests in health and unhealthy populations. They also assist both amateur and professional athletes in helping them boost their performance in sports.

    In this section, we compare the average athletic trainer annual salary with that of an exercise physiologist. Typically, exercise physiologists earn a $2,371 higher salary than athletic trainers earn annually.

    While their salaries may differ, one common ground between athletic trainers and exercise physiologists are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like patients, rehabilitation, and cpr.

    As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because an athletic trainer responsibility requires skills such as "student athletes," "athletic injuries," "athletic events," and "osha." Whereas a exercise physiologist is skilled in "ekg," "acsm," "physical therapy," and "blood pressure." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

    Exercise physiologists tend to reach similar levels of education than athletic trainers. In fact, exercise physiologists are 3.3% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.0% more likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of an Exercise Specialist?

    An Exercise Specialist creates exercise plans designed to improve health for clients, such as those at high risk for heart, metabolic, or lung disease. They work at health clubs, hotels, gyms, and hospitals.

    Next up, we have the exercise specialist profession to look over. This career brings along a lower average salary when compared to an athletic trainer annual salary. In fact, exercise specialists salary difference is $5,359 lower than the salary of athletic trainers per year.

    Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Athletic trainers and exercise specialists both include similar skills like "patients," "rehabilitation," and "cpr" on their resumes.

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that athletic trainer responsibilities requires skills like "student athletes," "athletic injuries," "athletic events," and "osha." But an exercise specialist might use skills, such as, "customer service," "physical therapy," "blood pressure," and "acsm."

    On the topic of education, exercise specialists earn similar levels of education than athletic trainers. In general, they're 4.2% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.0% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Sports Medicine Coordinator Compares

    Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and treat patients with health conditions and limited ability to move and perform daily activities. They help in restoring physical function and mobility and teach how to properly use therapeutic exercise techniques. They also help promote overall wellness and encourage healthier and more active lifestyles. They design a recovery plan unique for every patient, provide treatment and therapy to help improve and manage their condition. They provide care to all kinds of individuals, from newborns to people at the end of their life.

    The third profession we take a look at is sports medicine coordinator. On an average scale, these workers bring in lower salaries than athletic trainers. In fact, they make a $4,244 lower salary per year.

    While looking through the resumes of several athletic trainers and sports medicine coordinators we discovered that both professions have similar skills. These similarities include skills such as "patients," "rehabilitation," and "patient care," but they differ when it comes to other required skills.

    There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, an athletic trainer is likely to be skilled in "cpr," "compassion," "athletic events," and "osha," while a typical sports medicine coordinator is skilled in "physical therapy," "ekg," "drug screens," and "clerkship."

    Sports medicine coordinators are known to earn similar educational levels when compared to athletic trainers. Additionally, they're 2.0% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.6% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Physical Therapist

    The fourth career we look at typically earns higher pay than athletic trainers. On average, physical therapists earn a difference of $26,042 higher per year.

    While their salaries may vary, athletic trainers and physical therapists both use similar skills to perform their jobs. Resumes from both professions include skills like "patients," "rehabilitation," and "compassion. "

    Even though a few skill sets overlap, there are some differences that are important to note. For one, an athletic trainer might have more use for skills like "cpr," "patient care," "student athletes," and "athletic injuries." Meanwhile, some physical therapists might include skills like "home health," "quality care," "physical therapy," and "treatment programs" on their resume.

    Physical therapists reach similar levels of education when compared to athletic trainers. The difference is that they're 2.5% more likely to earn a Master's Degree less, and 16.2% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What an Athletic Trainer Does FAQs

    How Long Does It Take To Become An Athletic Trainer?

    It takes approximately four years to become an athletic trainer. These professionals must undergo training and complete their four-year bachelor's degree. Those looking to gain further education may complete their master's degree, adding one to three years to their career path.

    What Do You Major In To Become An Athletic Trainer?

    You can major in sports medicine, exercise science, or athletic training to become an athletic trainer. Comparable majors should also be taken into consideration, such as physiology. Some athletic trainers may take minors in closely related fields to round out their traditional education.

    What Does An Athletic Trainer Do On A Daily Basis?

    An athletic trainer creates and directs fitness and exercise plans, gives athletes instructions, tracks athletes' progress, and makes adjustments on a daily basis. Here are some details on the daily activities of an athletic trainer:

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