The Future of Athletic Training

At MSU there’s talk of a new program for Athletic Training students. A program where they will be able to receive their bachelor’s and master’s degree in the course of only 5 years.  The new program isn’t official yet but it is of serious conversation in the College of Education.

Popular Fields

One of the most popular careers for Athletic Trainers is Physical Therapy.  It was my original plan. Start off in athletic training then move into physical therapy and possibly open up my own practice. However I’m really enjoying where I am and think maybe just working higher up in Athletic Training.

Money Talk


Without your Master’s degree in Athletic Training an AT can work in a High School or Middle School sports setting however, this may not be satisfying in the sense of income. With any degree beyond a masters would open up doors in the collegiate and professional fields, bringing in more of that ideal paycheck.

Beyond schooling, the top careers for an AT would be the following:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Clinical Settings
  • Professional Sports

The Professional Life

I have always loved football so working in the NFL would be incredible.  Any professional sports team would be quite the experience for any athletic trainer. Working with well-known and famous athletes would be surreal. You’d even have the opportunity to travel the country with the team and get all the perks the players do, the “swag bag.”

The All-Time Goal

One day I was talking to the Athletic Trainer at my high school, Jackie, an AT graduate of Western Michigan University, and asked her what she wanted to do after she was done working with our school, where she wanted to take her degree. I asked her about PT and if that’s something that interested her.

“I thought about physical therapy as most AT’s do, but my all-time goal is to work as an Athletic Trainer in the next Olympic games.”

I had never even considered it as an option. The idea of working with the best athletes in the world sparked a fire in my mind as I now have another possibility to consider.


What’s Hot in the Industry

Athletic Trainers constantly work with people suffering from all different types of injuries.  With all these different injuries comes a lot of research. These highly trained professionals look into the effects of the injures on the athlete, both physically and mentally and ways to prevent them from occurring.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) promotes being educated in hot topics and common injuries such as concussions, sudden cardiac arrest, and heat illness.

Hot Topics:

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

 Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the exactly what it sounds; the athlete and or person unexpectedly goes into arrest with the outcome to be catastrophic. There are small risks for SCA in young athletes, but it usually occurs within one hour of the onset of symptoms.

Symptoms include:
  • Syncope
  • Chest pains
  • Sudden ventricular arrhythmias

Although the causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest are inconsistent, more than 2/3 times it is due to a heart abnormality. By staying up to date with relevant research, ATs can take precautions and prepare in advance for these unforeseen circumstances.


Research about concussions has been constantly progressing.

I remember in middle school and my freshman year of high school, my friend on the football team seemed to get concussion after concussion. No one realized how serious they were and that he should’ve stopped playing after he got so many. Unfortunately, even though he was cleared, he continued to play and one game he got hit so hard he ended up in the hospital due to the extensiveness of the concussion.

Concussions are very serious and for a while people wouldn’t consider them to be significant injuries, however than can cause significant brain damage.

“The CDC estimates 1.6-3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities annually. However, these figures vastly underestimate the total, as many individuals do not seek medical advice.” National Athletic Trainers’ Association


NOCSAE has continued to develop better football helmet guidelines in order to prevent this particularly common injury in the sport.

With many other thriving topics of research in Athletic Training, the site is available for education in the field for trainers, athletes, and students or prospects. To be more than a ‘good’ trainer or even student, I’d look into these topics to stay top of your game.

The Experience

What it Means to be an Undergraduate in Athletic Training

Athletic Trainers are highly trained health care professionals. The undergraduate program for prospective Athletic Trainers is very competitive and requires individuals who are determined and passionate about their career path. Each student could have a different intention or goal with this area of study as it can be applied to many different careers and opportunities

To Always Keep at the Back of your Mind

Athletic Training is made up of six primary domains; Prevention, Immediate Care, Treatment/Rehabilitation, Clinical Evaluation, Organization, and Professional Responsibilities. Each domain being extremely important in the field and constantly stressed throughout one’s studies.

Be Ready to Fight for it

Being a 2-year major, the program is very competitive in admissions as students apply during February of their Sophomore year. The program at Michigan State University, is located in the College of Education under Kinesiology, being comprised of mostly KIN courses.

Kinesiology is the study of the body’s movement. Knowing exactly how the body can or cannot move, or how it should or shouldn’t move is very important as an AT is constantly evaluating individuals.

After freshman year, prospective Athletic Training majors start what is called ‘Clinical Rotations’ and begin working with the athletic teams at Michigan state. Each student is assigned a sport at the University to work with, shadowing the real Athletic Trainers. This part can be boring before if you’re not in the major yet because you simply observe, attending all practices and games, watching and learning as the ATs do their jobs.

How to Reach Success

Each student needs to show enthusiasm for what they’re doing and build good relationships with their professors and mentors. The Athletic Training admissions board wants students who are clearly passionate about the field

In February of their Sophomore year, the prospective students will apply to the major.

The decision regarding final admission is based on a lot of criteria. Although the program states that you must complete the five required KIN courses with a minimum average GPA of 2.5, that doesn’t mean you only need a 2.5 to be accepted. The average GPA of students admitted to the program is around a 3.7, so sliding by with the minimal requirements won’t suffice.

The admissions process also requires the following:
  • An Essay expressing reasons for selecting Athletic Training
  • 3 Letters of personal references
  • An Interview with the Athletic Training admissions board

Working Professionally

Unlike many understand, a degree in Athletic Training can be applied to many different areas of work. Whether it’s working in a hospital or clinical setting, to working with professional sports teams, performing arts, and even the military, athletic trainers are needed in each one.

“What I really like about the program is that I have the opportunity to work with

not just athletes, but soldiers or dancers, it’s not as limited as many believe.”

-Jensyn Bradley, current MSU Athletic Training Student.

Some possible careers with a degree in AT include:

  • Hospitals
  • Intercollegiate/Professional Athletics
  • Law Enforcement/Military
  • Occupational Settings
  • Performing Arts
  • Physician Offices
  • Professional Sports
  • Sports Medicine Clinics

I had originally planned on going into Physical Therapy, but after I began taking classes I started really enjoying athletic training. I’m still brainstorming my final career plan as I’m currently in no rush to “have it all figured out.”

I’m also a Spanish minor so I have an idea of going to Spain and working with a soccer team there, that way I’d be putting both of my favorite things to use. But then I was a dancer all my life so part of me wants to work with a professional company, traveling the country or world, working with people who share that same love that I do. Obviously working with any professional athletes is a dream of mine, as I grew up surrounded by sports.

The possibilities are endless, you just have to figure out where your best fit is and where you’ll be thriving the most.