Behind virtually every athlete who leads a team to victory is a dedicated athletic trainer standing on the sidelines. These health care professionals focus on treating athletes to help them with all their physical needs from tennis elbows to sprained ankles. Skilled in all areas of the athletic activity, an Athletic Trainer assists with the prevention of injuries through proper conditioning, recognition and evaluation of injuries, emergency care and even rehabilitation. Other responsibilities may include nutritional planning and understanding of the emotional needs of an injured athlete. Employment for the Sports Therapist may come from hospitals, high schools, colleges and universities, sports medicine clinics, and dance companies.
A bachelor’s degree in athletic training, exercise science or physical education is usually the minimum requirement. Certified programs include academic courses such as anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and psychology, as well as 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience. Graduates who pass the National Association of Athletic Trainers Board of Certification examination are awarded the Certified Athletic Trainer credential (ATC). Those interested in college teaching positions, orthopedics and physical therapy can pursue a master’s degree.