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What advice do you have for people in high school who want to be athletic trainers?

What is your biggest advice for those who want to be athletic trainers but are still in high school? Advice on majors? Colleges? Job-Shadowing? Anything else? Any help or answers are much appreciated!

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Karen’s Answer

It's a brilliant idea to consider academic pursuits in areas like sports science, rehabilitation science, or athletic training qualifications. A simple online search can help you discover universities that excel in these fields, and you might want to think about them.

On a physical level, it's beneficial to get involved with school associations, sports clubs, and even participate in competitions or act as assistant trainers. Shadowing professionals in the job is a fantastic way to gain real-world experience while you're still in school. Short-term assignments or internships can also provide valuable insights.

Remember, recommendations from teachers and coaches can open doors to opportunities outside of school. So, don't hesitate to engage them in conversation, expressing your interest and considering this career path. Your enthusiasm can make a significant difference.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! I will look into all of this! I appreciate your help! Alessandra
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Rachael’s Answer

Hi Alessandra,

I have a couple pieces of advice for a student interested in AT. First, do research into all the facets of athletic training. Read up about what all ATs do, its much more than water, taping, and covering football games, as many people assume that's most of what we do. Besides that we do injury prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, return to sport, immediate injury management, nutrition, general medicine, strength and conditioning, and much much more. There are many facets of athletic training that take a lot of time and work to master.

You should research all settings that athletic trainers can work in, we don't just do sports anymore. ATs work in industrial, military, aerospace, performing arts, physician practice, and many more settings. I also recommend looking into other areas of medicine and health care so you explore all areas that may be of interest to you before deciding on one path. If you feel like AT is right for you, see if your highschool offers an intro to sports medicine class. My high school offered a class and we were able to learn basic taping, first aid, emergency management techniques, and other principles of athletic training. It was very helpful to have that class to get a taste of what I would be doing during my college study and beyond. See if you can shadow or work for your highschool athletic trainer after school to get day to day experience with them. Some colleges and organizations also offer workshops for highschool age students interested in athletic training (NIU, Nationwide Children's Hospital, UPMC to name a few).

You can also look at CAATE (commission on the accreditation of athletic training education) resources and NATA (national athletic training association) resources about athletic training. Becoming an athletic trainer now takes 5-6 years of study. 4 years of a bachelors degree and a 2 year professional masters degree, so take this into account. Some good options for a bachelors degree area of study are kinesiology, biology, exercise science, etc.

While athletic training can be a very rewarding profession (I love what I do working with athletes) it can also be a very difficult and thankless job. Salaries are typically low, though things are beginning to improve in that area, and hours can be very long with multiple practices a day and lots of travel (in the collegiate or professional sports setting, that is). So, do some research, and enjoy the process of discovering what different careers paths there can be for you!

Rachael recommends the following next steps:

CAATE website
NATA website
Sports medicine class at your highschool
Shadow local athletic trainer
Research lots of healthcare career avenues
Thank you comment icon I appreciate the answers and suggestions on everything! I am interested in looking into all of this further. I'm glad to hear you still love what you do, and I hope to find out what I want to do more specifically. I hope things continue to go well for you! I will reach out to some places local to me soon regarding shadow opportunities and other things! Alessandra
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Naim’s Answer

Hi Alessandra,

It's great to see your enthusiasm for diving into the world of athletic training! I'm thrilled to offer some pointers to help you navigate this exciting journey. Here are a few friendly tips designed especially for high school students like you who are eager to become athletic trainers:

1. Make your studies count: Concentrate on your schoolwork, especially in subjects like biology, anatomy, physiology, and sports science. Excelling in these areas will set a solid foundation for your future studies and career in athletic training.

2. Get active: Join in sports or other physical activities. This will give you a real-life understanding of athletic performance and the physical demands on athletes. Taking part in extracurricular activities like sports teams, volunteering, or health and fitness clubs can also boost your skills and knowledge for a future in athletic training.

3. Think about your major: There's no specific major you need to become an athletic trainer, but studying athletic training, exercise science, kinesiology, or a related field can equip you with a wealth of knowledge and skills for this profession. Explore the different majors on offer at colleges and universities to find the one that matches your career goals and interests.

4. Research your future school: Check out colleges and universities that have accredited programs in athletic training or related fields. Look at things like the program's reputation, the expertise of the faculty, the resources available, and the opportunities for real-world experience through internships or clinical placements.

5. Try job shadowing: Job shadowing can give you a firsthand look at what athletic trainers do every day. Reach out to local high schools, colleges, sports medicine clinics, or athletic training facilities to ask about shadowing opportunities and get a taste of the field.

6. Make connections: Start building relationships with professionals in the athletic training field. You can do this through networking events, workshops, or informational interviews. Also, look for a mentor among experienced athletic trainers who can share their own career experiences and offer valuable advice.

7. Stay informed and involved: Keep up-to-date with the latest in athletic training by reading relevant articles, attending conferences, and staying involved with professional organizations like the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA). This commitment to continuous learning and professional development will benefit you throughout your career.

Remember, stay determined, flexible, and passionate about your dream of becoming an athletic trainer. See challenges as chances to grow and don't be shy about asking for help and advice along the way.

If you have more questions or need more help, don't hesitate to get in touch. I'm wishing you all the best on your path to becoming an athletic trainer!

Best wishes,

Naim Rahaim
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