Athletic Trainer Overview: Education & Job Outlook

The complete guide to athletic trainer programs, certification, careers and advancement opportunities.
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Athletic Trainer Career Facts

Athletic Training and Exercise Science

Athletic training has been around since the early 1900s. In fact, many professional athletes were once trained by physical therapists who would work with them to rehabilitate injuries. Today, athletic training is a health profession that focuses on injury prevention and rehabilitation through exercise. Athletic trainers are responsible for monitoring the health of their patients and ensuring they are safe while participating in sports activities. They may also provide medical care to injured athletes.

As you think about your future, you might be considering a career in exercise science or athletic training. It’s important to know that there are similarities between the two degrees. For instance, they’re both required to take courses on biomechanics and nutrition. But as you move further along your education, an emphasis emerges between the two.

Exercise science focuses on the sciences, such as kinesiology and cardiorespiratory exercise physiology. But athletic training focuses more on hands-on elements, such as manual muscle testing, first aid, and palpatory anatomy.

Athletic Trainer Degrees and Courses

Athletic training degree programs can vary in offering a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The CATE or Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education is the organization responsible for accrediting athletic training programs.

To become an athletic trainer, candidates should attend an accredited college and graduate with a degree in athletic training. After that, the Board of Certification requires them to pass their exam.

Below are some of the areas of study and courses you will likely take in most athletic training programs.

Athletic Training courses and curriculum:

  • First Aid and Emergency Procedures
  • Rehabilitation techniques, including therapeutic modalities.
  • Administration & organization of athletic training
  • Manual muscle testing
  • Palpatory anatomy
  • Recognizing and evaluating athletic injuries
  • Manual exam & treatment
  • The psychosocial aspects of athletic training

Although there is plenty of overlap between an athletic trainer degree and an exercise science degree, you will focus more on hands-on methodologies during your studies to become an athletic trainer.

Meanwhile, if you choose to pursue a degree in exercise science you will spend more time studying the sciences which we will talk about next.

Exercise Science Degrees and Courses

Similar to the CATE for athletic trainer programs, the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences is responsible for accrediting exercise science programs.

Most exercise science programs offer a bachelor’s degree that focuses on the sciences. Below are some of the courses in an exercise science curriculum that you will take during your exercise science program.

Kinesiology – Kinesiology is a science that studies the body’s muscles and how they work. These movements are often divided into two categories, isometric exercise, and isotonic exercise. Isometric exercise involves flexing or contracting the muscles without changing their length, while isotonic exercises involve moving the muscles through a range of motions.

Cardiorespiratory exercise physiology – Cardiorespiratory exercise physiology is the study of how exercises affect the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Cardiorespiratory exercise includes aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate, gets your lungs to work harder, and increases your breathing capacity.

Neuromuscular exercise physiology – Neuromuscular exercise physiology is the study of how muscles work, how they’re connected to the nervous system, and how they produce force. Nervous system activation is a function of the brain that directs muscle contraction and relaxation.

Bioenergetics & weight control – Bioenergetics is a term used by Dr. Ron Minson to describe the way in which the body’s cells generate and use energy. It is a vital factor in weight control because the cells of overweight individuals are not able to burn up body fat as efficiently as those of normal-weight individuals.

Motor development – Motor development is the process of learning gross motor skills, which are physical movements like jumping, running, and kicking a ball. Fine motor development is about learning small movements like picking up small objects.

Chemistry – Chemistry is one of the most important sciences that you can study because it’s the foundation of all other sciences and can be applied to many different industries like medicine, nursing, and pharmacology.

Physics – Physics is the study of matter and energy. It looks at how matter changes due to force and motion. Physical science is the study of the physical universe and all of its contents. Exercise science is a branch of both physical science and biology that specifically studies movement, physical activity, and exercise.

Exercise & chronic disease – According to the CDC, chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in the US. Exercise is great for managing chronic diseases because it can help with your overall health and well-being. You’ll learn how exercise can help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Strength & Conditioning – Strength & conditioning is a crucial component of any exercise program. If you’re not strong, you’re not athletic. Strength & conditioning also help to develop endurance and stamina. You will learn about strength and conditioning and how it applies to exercise science.

Athletic Trainer Job Description

The Athletic Trainer is responsible for maintaining the health and welfare of athletes. They provide preventative, therapeutic, and rehabilitative care. Athletic Trainers must have a thorough knowledge of the human body and how it responds to different types of injuries. They also need to be able to work with a wide range of people from different sports and backgrounds.


  1. Provide treatment for injuries sustained by athletes
  2. Keep records of treatments administered to athletes
  3. Provide care for a variety of athletes from a variety of sports backgrounds
  4. Serve as a liaison between the athlete and their physician

Sports or Exercise Scientist Job Description

The Sports or Exercise Scientist is responsible for conducting research-based activities to improve the health and fitness of people of all ages and abilities. The Sports or Exercise Scientist has responsibility for the design, execution, and evaluation of these activities. This includes conducting research to identify new interventions and approaches that can be applied to populations with different needs and interests.


  1. Conducting research-based activities that improve the health and fitness of people of all ages and abilities
  2. Conducting research to identify new interventions and approaches that can be applied to populations with different needs
  3. Identifying gaps in knowledge related to physical activity, exercise, and sport science
  4. Designing new physical activity, exercise, or sport science programs
  5. Evaluating the effectiveness of physical activity, exercise, or sport science programs on different populations (children vs. adolescents vs. adults)
  6. Developing training materials for physical activity instructors
  7. Implementing policies related to

What is a Personal Fitness Trainer and What do They do?

A personal fitness trainer is an individual who wants to help you take control of your health and happiness. Your PT will design a personal training program designed to help you achieve your training goals.

They will devise a fitness program that is geared to improving your body’s ability to function.

A Personal Fitness Trainer is an expert in training people for fitness and weight loss. From their education on the human body and exercise, they know exactly what to do to get you in shape. They can help you design a program specifically for your goals.

Personal fitness trainers and exercise coaches teach and train individuals and groups of people in exercise and healthy living.

They teach diet and exercise, demonstrate and monitor progress and keep everyone on track. Personal fitness trainers and exercise coaches familiarize clients with cardio equipment, such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes.

Some personal trainers teach clients weight-lifting techniques such as how to perform squats or how to use weight machines properly. Personal fitness trainers may provide nutritional information and plan diet and meal plans in addition to the exercise program.

Personal trainers are people who motivate and guide you to achieve your goals with the help of exercises and a disciplined nutrition plan. They can be considered as a guide and support line in your quest to achieve your goals.

Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Programs

Consider going for an NCCA accredited certification in the field of health and fitness, which is recognized as the gold standard.

In most cases, a personal trainer will have a certification from a reputable institution, which means that this person is licensed to practice. One certification option is the NASM Personal Trainer Certification. Another popular option is ACE fitness.

To be eligible for the NASM Personal Trainer Certification exam, you must have a high school degree or GED. You’ll also need CPR and AED certifications before taking the test.

A personal fitness trainer is someone who, well, coaches you on your fitness. Similar to a nutritionist, they help you work towards your goals by helping you create a workout plan. They’ll teach you technique, how to lift weights, how to run, how to do yoga, how to do anything you need to do in order to get the most out of your fitness routine. Then, they also help you with your nutrition.

If you have a strong interest in nutrition and fitness then becoming a personal trainer could be a great career path for you.

Personal Fitness Job Description

The Personal Fitness Trainer is responsible for delivering a world-class fitness experience that inspires and motivates clients to reach their personal goals. This includes the development of an individualized fitness plan, as well as instructing and motivating clients through a variety of exercises.


  1. Provide a world-class personal training experience to clients, including nutrition and exercise advice
  2. Develop and execute an individualized training plan for each client based on their goals and needs
  3. Motivate clients through a variety of exercises and workouts, including cardio, strength training, and flexibility routines
  4. Keep up with current trends in the fitness industry; understand new developments in nutrition; keep abreast of new equipment; stay informed on new developments in the field

An athletic trainer, exercise scientist or personal fitness trainer is an excellent gateway into sports and healthcare. If you love the challenge and its rewards, you may want to continue your education and become an athletic trainer, exercise scientist or personal fitness trainer.

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