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Would this line of work require any lifestyle changes or restrictions ?

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I’m a senior at Brennan HS and I’m looking to follow a career path in Sports Medicine and Sports Rehabilitation. #athletictrainer #physicaltherapy

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4 answers

Chris’s Answer

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I’m not sure what you mean by lifestyle changes or restrictions. I will assume that you mean can you work first shift, as most Americans do, as an athletic trainer. That depends on the setting you working.
Traditionally, athletic trainers work in high schools and colleges. If you get a high school, naturally classes are occurring during the day, so you will work mostly second shift. You also travel with some teams to away games and some of those do occur on the weekend. College, you may work a blend of first and second shift along with travel with your assigned a team or teams. The schedule will depend on what team or teams you are assigned to and what their schedules consist of.
Athletic trainers also work in nontraditional settings such as orthopedic clinics and physical therapy clinics. These opportunities offered a great potential to work first shift, but some are also open a bit later where you could work a blend of first and second shift. Some clinics do offer weekend hours as well, so you may have to work some Saturdays.
One of the up-and-coming fields that athletic training is getting into is occupational medicine or the industrial athletic trainer. Industry has started to realize the value of an athletic trainer, and being experts in ergonomics and biomechanics, we are able to assist in keeping the industrial worker healthy and injury free in the workplace. This may also include drug and alcohol testing workers in the event of an injury.
I noticed your hashtags at the end. If you are looking to work with athletes, I would recommend athletic training. If you are looking to work with the general population, I would recommend physical therapy. Although, physical therapy does offer a sports specialty, they are not generally on the sidelines unless it is a very large Division I program or professional sports team.
Note that athletic training is moving to an entry-level masters degree. You’ll get a bachelors degree in a related field first, and then complete two more years in athletic training. Physical therapy is a clinical doctorate with four years at the bachelors level and three years at the doctorate level. One more year of school and a lot of money is certainly something to consider between the two career fields.
I hope this helps.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

  • Contact your sports medicine doctor near you to ask to speak to shadow an athletic trainer.
  • Contact your local physical therapist and asked to shadow a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant.
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Megan’s Answer

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Hi Addison,

Like the others mentioned, it will depend on what setting you want to work in. If you want to work at the higher and with more intense sports (collegiate division I level, professional) you will be required to make more sacrifices than if you work at a high school. If you are looking for something a bit more flexible with a consistent schedule, looking into a hospital setting or a clinic only type of job may be better suited than working with a sports team of any level. Also, just so it's something clarifying upfront, this career field isn't one of the higher paid fields among allied health professionals, so if this is something that matters to you, I would look into other options in Sports Medicine that may better suit your needs. Make sure you look too at the amount of education you will need to complete before reaching the level you want to work in.

Good luck!
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Michaela’s Answer

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Yes and no, depending on where you work. Think about the traditional setting - anytime sports are in session, you're working. You don't always have to travel (depending on the sport and your schedule) but there is a huge time commitment outside of a standard 9-5. However, athletic training is a very diverse field. There are those who work in hospitals and orthopedic clinics, occupational safety, and performance arts. Schedules can be more consistent in those settings. There have been days as an athletic trainer I'll go in from 5:30am and I won't get home until 11pm. It doesn't happen too often, but enough that you may get burned out.
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David’s Answer

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Basically it boils down to which setting you want to work in. Each one has different sacrifices you might need to make. It can require nights and weekends. Depending on which setting you choose to work in, there could conceivably be travel with the teams you are helping.
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