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Hiring an Athletic Trainer: Job Description Template

By Ammar Ahmed

Published:

Looking to boost your sports team or fitness program with a skilled Athletic Trainer? This comprehensive guide walks you through the entire hiring process, from identifying needs to final interviews. We even include an Athletic Trainer job description template to streamline your search. Discover how to make an educated choice in hiring an Athletic Trainer who can take your athletic performance to the next level.


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Responsibilities & Role of an Athletic Trainer

An Athletic Trainer serves as an indispensable asset to any sports team or athletic program. They focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute, and chronic medical conditions.

Let’s take a quick dive into the core responsibilities and roles:

  • Injury Prevention: Designs and implements injury prevention programs to safeguard athletes, often coordinating with other healthcare professionals.
  • Diagnosis and Evaluation: Rapidly assesses injuries on the field to make informed decisions on an athlete’s capacity to continue playing.
  • Immediate Care: Provides immediate first-aid and emergency treatments to athletes, from simple applications like ice packs to life-saving measures.
  • Treatment and Rehabilitation: Develops and manages post-injury rehabilitation programs, often collaborating with physicians to facilitate quick recovery.
  • Administrative Tasks: Maintains athlete health records, ensures safety protocols are followed, and keeps the sports program in compliance with regulations.
  • Athlete Education: Instructs athletes on injury prevention, proper training techniques, and condition management to promote long-term health.

By performing these functions, Athletic Trainers bridge the gap between athletes and comprehensive healthcare, playing an invaluable role in the well-being and performance of a team.


How to Hire an Athletic Trainer

Hiring the right athletic trainer is crucial for sports and healthcare settings, given the specialized skills required.

To help you navigate this complex task, we’ve identified key factors you should focus on.

1. Understanding Your Athletic Trainer Needs

Before embarking on the hiring process, it’s crucial to understand why you need an Athletic Trainer and what specific services they should provide. 

  • Are you looking to focus on injury prevention for a high school football team?
  • Or do you require specialized attention for elite athletes in a college setting?

Your needs will dictate whether you should look for a full-time Athletic Trainer or if a part-time contract would suffice.

For example, if you manage a professional sports team, you’ll likely need a full-time Athletic Trainer who can provide round-the-clock services. On the other hand, smaller organizations or recreational leagues may only require part-time services, especially if they have fewer events and lower risks of injuries.

2. Search for the Top Talent

Identifying the right Athletic Trainer for your needs is a process that involves multiple recruitment strategies. Depending on your needs and resources, here are some approaches you might consider:

  • Job Posting Websites: Websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and specialized sports job boards like WorkInSports can be a good place to start. A well-crafted job ad that outlines your specific requirements can attract a pool of qualified candidates. For instance, if you’re in charge of a collegiate sports program, you might post an ad on the NCAA’s job board to target professionals familiar with the collegiate athletic landscape.
  • Local Gyms and Sports Clinics: Often, Athletic Trainers work part-time in these settings. Posting a notice or directly inquiring can yield promising leads. For instance, if you’re looking for a trainer specialized in aquatic sports, consider posting an ad at swimming facilities or aquatic centers.
  • Educational Institutions: Reaching out to universities that offer athletic training programs can help you tap into a pipeline of newly qualified professionals.
  • Industry Events and Seminars: These can be excellent networking opportunities to meet Athletic Trainers who are committed to ongoing education and staying updated on industry trends.
  • Word-of-Mouth: Sometimes, the best recommendations come from other professionals in the field or from athletes who have had positive experiences with their Athletic Trainers.

By using a multi-pronged approach to recruitment, you increase the odds of finding a trainer that fits your specific needs and organizational culture.

3. Looking for Professional Qualification

Qualifications play a pivotal role in selecting an Athletic Trainer. These professionals often specialize in particular areas, such as pediatric sports medicine, aquatic therapy, or geriatric care.

Choose the one that fits your specific needs:

  • High School Sports: Look for someone with a certification in pediatric athletic training. A strong understanding of growth plate injuries and adolescent physiology would be beneficial.
  • Collegiate Sports: Preferably, opt for trainers who have an NCCA-accredited Athletic Training Education program certification. Experience with managing the workload and stress levels of student-athletes can be an added advantage.
  • Professional Sports: Trainers with specialized credentials in performance optimization are often the best fit. They should ideally have a certification like the Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) or Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES).
  • Aquatic Sports: Look for trainers certified in aquatic therapy. They would have expertise in dealing with water-specific injuries and physiotherapy needs.
  • Clinical Setting: For those in healthcare institutions, a Clinical Athlete Trainer (CAT) certification is often necessary. They should have experience dealing with a wide range of medical conditions, not just sports-related issues.

By matching the Athletic Trainer’s qualification level and specialization to your particular needs, you can ensure a more effective and efficient healthcare program for your athletes. Some athletic trainers may also have additional certifications in CPR and emergency care procedures, which are highly beneficial.

4. Analyze Their Work Experience

Before you begin vetting candidates, it’s crucial to understand the kind of experience that truly matters for an athletic trainer.

Each bullet point below gives you a unique lens through which to view a candidate’s qualifications:

  • Look for Context-Specific Experience: Unlike general fitness trainers, athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries. Verify if their work experience is related to sports or medical settings as opposed to general fitness centers.
  • Type of Sports or Athletes Handled: The work experience of an athletic trainer can be vast, ranging from school sports to professional athletes. Examine their client history and the types of athletes they have dealt with to gauge their expertise in specific athletic domains.
  • Involvement in Therapeutic Programs: A candidate’s involvement in injury prevention programs, rehabilitation, and therapeutic exercises can provide in-depth insights into their practical knowledge. Have they designed and implemented such programs in their previous roles?

Beyond just years of experience, make sure they are certified by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC) and hold state licensure, which is a legal requirement in most U.S. states. 

5. Conduct a Comprehensive Interview Process

When you reach the interview stage, your approach needs to be as meticulous and specialized as the role itself. Utilizing structured interview techniques like the STAR method can help you gain meaningful insights into a candidate’s real-world experience and problem-solving abilities.

Below are some key considerations for a well-rounded interview process:

  • Case-based Questions Using STAR: Pose hypothetical or past scenarios to candidates and ask them to respond using the STAR method. For example, ask them to describe a situation where they had to manage a high-stress injury during a game, the Task they faced, the Actions they took, and the Results of those actions. This approach can provide a more comprehensive view of their problem-solving capabilities.
    Knowledge of Injury Management Protocols: Inquire about their understanding of current best practices in managing specific injuries such as concussions, fractures, or sprains. A competent athletic trainer should be aware of the latest medical guidelines and treatment protocols.
  • Soft Skills Assessment: An athletic trainer’s role isn’t just confined to physical treatment. They also serve as a psychological support system for athletes. Questions related to emotional intelligence, communication skills, and the ability to motivate should be part of the interview process.
  • Practical Test: If possible, include a practical component in the interview. Ask the candidate to demonstrate taping methods, injury assessments, or other specific techniques to judge their hands-on skills.

In all, the interview should be a comprehensive examination of both the candidate’s technical knowledge and situational preparedness. This holistic approach ensures that you’re not just hiring a candidate with the right qualifications on paper, but one who will excel in the complexities and nuances of the role.

6. Cross-Verify Their References

Arguably, one of the most critical steps in hiring an athletic trainer—or any professional for that matter—is performing thorough background checks and contacting references. According to research published in the Journal of Athletic Training, professional ethical conduct, including truthfulness and confidentiality, is highly emphasized in athletic training practice. 

This underscores the importance of speaking to previous employers and colleagues to gauge a candidate’s ethical standing and professional demeanor.

Consider asking the following question when contacting the references:

  • Can you describe a situation where the candidate demonstrated exceptional skills in injury diagnosis or prevention?
  • How well did the candidate adhere to ethical guidelines and confidentiality requirements in your organization?
  • Can you provide an example of how the candidate worked collaboratively in a team setting, and the impact it had on the team’s overall performance?

Tips for Avoiding Red Flags During the Hiring Process of an Athletic Trainer

Navigating the hiring process for an athletic trainer can be a complex task, requiring a keen eye for potential red flags.

Here are some tips to help you avoid pitfalls and make a more informed decision:

  • Verify Credentials Thoroughly: Given that Athletic Trainers work closely with the well-being of athletes, credential verification is critical. Ensure that the candidate is certified through the Board of Certification (BOC) and has a valid state license where required.
  • Scrutinize Gaps in Employment: Unlike other jobs where a gap might be more acceptable, a break in an Athletic Trainer’s employment could mean a lapse in certification or staying updated with evolving medical practices. Be sure to ask for explanations and supporting documentation for any gaps.
  • Assess Emergency Response Skills: Given the role’s responsibility for immediate medical attention, assess the candidate’s capability in emergency response. This can be done through role-play scenarios or direct questioning about their experience in emergency situations.

A new hire's first day checklist

Athletic Trainer Job Description

Here’s a comprehensive job description template for an Athletic Trainer position:

Download Template

Position: Athletic Trainer

Location: [Insert Location]

Company/Employer: [Insert Company Name]

Type: Full-Time/Part-Time

Reports To: [Insert Designation Name]

Salary: [Salary / Competitive / DOE]

About Us:

[Your Organization’s Name] is a leading healthcare and sports medicine facility committed to offering the highest standards of athletic training and rehabilitation services. With state-of-the-art equipment and a team of seasoned professionals, we aim to foster an environment where athletes can reach their peak performance safely.

The Opportunity: 

We are seeking a dedicated, knowledgeable, and certified Athletic Trainer to join our team of healthcare and sports professionals. The role involves working closely with athletes to prevent injuries, provide immediate care, and design rehabilitation programs to ensure a safe return to play. This position offers an excellent opportunity for professional growth in a dynamic and supportive environment.

What You’ll Do:

  • Evaluate athletic injuries and determine the appropriate course of treatment.
  • Administer first aid and emergency care for acute injuries.
  • Design and implement customized therapeutic interventions for athletes.
  • Work in collaboration with physicians, coaches, and other healthcare providers to develop comprehensive rehabilitation plans.
  • Conduct sports-specific conditioning programs to improve athletic performance and minimize injury risk.
  • Maintain accurate medical records and injury logs, ensuring confidentiality and compliance with HIPAA regulations.
  • Educate athletes, coaches, and families on injury prevention and signs of athletic injuries.

What You’ll Bring:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training or related field; Master’s preferred.
  • Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) through the Board of Certification (BOC).
  • State licensure as required.
  • Minimum [X] years of experience as an Athletic Trainer.
  • Strong clinical skills in areas such as injury prevention, immediate care, and rehabilitation.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Familiarity with [Specific software or technology if applicable].

Our Ideal Candidate is Someone Who Has:

  • Exceptional clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities.
  • A high level of professional ethics and a commitment to ongoing learning.
  • The capacity to work both independently and collaboratively in a fast-paced environment.
  • Experience with [specific sports or conditions] would be a significant advantage.
  • Technologically proficient, especially in [Any specialized software/technology].

Perks and Benefits:

  • Competitive salary and performance bonuses.
  • Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision insurance.
  • Professional development opportunities, including workshops and conferences.
  • State-of-the-art athletic facilities and equipment for hands-on work.
  • A positive, inclusive work environment.
  • XX weeks of paid time off.

How to Join Us: 

Interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter detailing their qualifications and experience to [Application Email or Portal]. Applications will be accepted until [Closing Date].

Note: Feel free to adjust and customize the template to fit your organization’s specific needs. We hope this comprehensive template makes the hiring process smoother for you.


How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Athletic Trainer?

Hiring an athletic trainer is an investment in the health and well-being of your athletes, but it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the associated costs. The expenses can vary based on several factors, including the trainer’s experience, qualifications, location, and the scope of services required. Below, we offer a detailed breakdown of the potential costs involved in hiring an athletic trainer:

Recruitment Costs

Utilizing specialized job boards like WorkInSports and the NCAA’s job board can be quite effective but also adds to your expenses. Posting a job listing on WorkInSports costs $349 for a 30-day period, while the NCAA’s job board charges $325 for the same duration. These costs are necessary for reaching a targeted pool of qualified candidates and can significantly speed up the hiring process.

Salary and Benefits

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for athletic trainers ranges from $36,960 to $48,420. This can go up to $76,180 for those with extensive experience or specialized skills. In addition to the base salary, benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off can add approximately 20-30% to the overall employment cost. 

If you’re considering hiring a freelance trainer, the hourly rates usually range between $17 to $29, depending on their experience and specialization.

Additional Costs

Lastly, there are additional costs to consider. If your athletic trainer needs to travel with a team, you should budget for travel, lodging, and per diem expenses. These costs can vary significantly depending on the distance and duration of travel. Professional development or continuing education is another factor, potentially costing between $1000 to $1300. Moreover, if you’re considering performance-based bonuses or incentives, these can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars annually.

In summary, the comprehensive cost of hiring an athletic trainer is shaped by various factors, including recruitment, salary, equipment, and additional costs. Taking the time to understand each of these can help you budget effectively and make an informed hiring decision.


Ammar Ahmed

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