Athletic and Personal Trainers


Both athletic trainers and personal trainers can expect to see job growth that is much faster than average.
Athletic trainers held about 16,300 jobs in 2008, which are expected to increase 37 percent by 2018. Personal fitness trainers are much more prevalent: 261,100 jobs in 2008, expected to increase 29 percent by 2018.
Median annual earnings of athletic trainers were $39,640 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $32,070 and $49,250. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,450, while the top 10 percent earned more than $60,960.
Median annual earnings of fitness trainers and aerobics instructors in May 2008 were $29,210. The middle 50 percent earned between $19,610 and $44,420. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $16,120, while the top 10 percent earned $60,760 or more. However, self-employed personal trainers can earn much more.
Though people sometimes confuse the terms, there are big differences between athletic and personal trainers. Athletic trainers are considered allied health professionals who help prevent and treat injuries, with clients ranging from pro athletes to student athletes to industrial workers.
Athletic trainers' duties include implementing rehabilitation programs under physician consultation and supervision, as well as advising people how to use equipment or devices such as braces.
Personal trainers, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with helping people become and stay physically fit. They work in gyms and health clubs, hospitals, universities, resorts, workplaces and clients' homes.Personal trainers work one-on-one with clients, helping them set and reach fitness goals.
Athletic trainers hold, at minimum, a bachelor's degree, though about 70 percent have master's degrees or doctorates. Almost all states (46 in 2006) require athletic trainers to be licensed or registered.
Personal trainers usually must be certified to work with clients or members of a fitness facility. An increasing number of employers also require a bachelor's degree in subjects such as exercise science or physical education.
Certification and Licensing:
Athletic trainers are required to be licensed or registered in 2006, which involves certification from the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC). For certification, athletic trainers need a bachelor's degree from an accredited athletic training program and must pass an exam.
In the personal training and fitness field, there are many organizations that offer certification. To ensure that a certifying organization is reputable, make sure it is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
Entering the Field:
Athletic trainers need a bachelor's degree and, in most cases, a license or registration before beginning work. Other ways to prepare for a job is to job-shadow a certified athletic trainer and to take fitness classes.
Personal trainers often start out by taking classes to become certified, then working with an experienced trainer before training clients alone.

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