Athletic trainers (AT) are well-known, recognized, qualified health care professionals, and are under the allied health professions category as defined by Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ATs work under the direction of physicians, as prescribed by state licensure statutes. They work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes. ATs are usually one of the first healthcare providers on the scene when injuries occur on the field. As a part of the health care team, services provided by ATs include:

  • primary care,
  • injury and illness prevention,
  • wellness promotion and education,
  • emergent care,
  • examination and clinical diagnosis,
  • therapeutic intervention and
  • rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

ATs are licensed or otherwise regulated in 49 states, and the District of Columbia. California National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) has ongoing efforts to update obsolete state practice acts that do not reflect current qualifications and practice of ATs under health care reform.

Difference between Athletic Training and Personal Training

Many people think athletic trainers and personal trainers are the same career, but they are not. There is a significant difference in the education, skill set and job duties of an athletic trainer versus that of a personal trainer. Athletic training uses a medical model for professional education that includes both didactic and clinical education. Athletic trainers must graduate from an Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredited program (Over 70 percent of ATs possess a master’s degree). Currently, 48 states and the District of Columbia require ATs to hold the Board of Certification credential of “AthleticTrainer, Certified” (ATC).

Career Outlook

Employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Athletic training faces widespread and future workforce shortages in primary care support and outpatient rehab professions.

Salary Info

Nationally, the median annual wage for athletic trainers was $49,860 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.

Regionally, the state of Hawaii ranks the 2nd in the top-paying states for the Athletic Training profession in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Annual mean wage= $62,610).


ATs work in a variety of different professional settings, including (but not limited to): Hospital emergency departments, Intercollegiate athletics, Law enforcement and military, Occupational and industrial settings, Performing arts, Physician offices, Professional sports, Secondary schools, or Sports medicine clinics.

Sample employers in Hawaiʻi:

  • HI Department of Education and private high schools
  • Hawaii Pacific Health
  • Performance Rehab Ortho
  • Hawaii Optimal Performance
Education / Skills Needed

Nearly all states require athletic trainers to have a license or certification; requirements vary by state. Future prospective students must attend and graduate from an accredited college or university by CAATE. Degree programs have classroom and clinical components, including science and health-related courses, such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and nutrition.

High school students interested in postsecondary athletic training programs should take courses in anatomy, physiology, and physics.