Online Sports and Fitness Degree Programs
Have you ever wondered how world-class athletes manage to stay healthy and in playing shape for competition well into their 30s? Here's a hint: they don't do it alone. If you are one of the many whose playing days are in the past, but your passion for sports is as strong as ever, you don't have to give up the dream. Careers in sports aren't limited to athletes, coaches, and agents.
There is a large and growing industry devoted to keeping athletes healthy and in peak condition. If sports are what you live for, maybe its time to leave that desk job behind and start doing what you love. Sports sciences and sports medicine professionals work diligently behind the scenes providing frontline medical and training care for athletes in every sport--from Little Leaguers to pro athletes.
Why Athletic Trainers are Important
The importance of athletic trainers has only recently gained the appreciation it warrants, as it has become evident that athletes who work year-round with trainers enjoy more extensive careers, remain in their prime longer, and suffer fewer injuries. This sustained high level of performance is partly due to fitness, but also because trainers can recognize and diagnose injuries before they become chronic. They also improve athletes' motion and mechanics, and create training regimens that promote joint stability.
Sports and Fitness Degrees
If you, like most people, are not in a position to just leave your current job and return to school, you still have options. Online health programs in sports sciences and sports medicine will prepare you to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate a variety of sports injuries and give you the opportunity to earn a degree in sports sciences and sports medicine. Most athletic trainer jobs require a bachelor's degree, but you should plan on continuing your education even as you start your career. A master's degree is all but a necessity for career advancement, and many top trainers have doctorates.
The course load is heavy on science, including courses in anatomy, biology, physiology, nutrition, and biomechanics. Supplementing this course load by studying such things as massage therapy and sports psychology can give you an edge in what is becoming a very competitive field. In all but four states you must be licensed to work as an athletic trainer. You need at least a bachelor's degree to be licensed, and must also pass a licensing exam. Continuing education classes are required to retain your athletic trainer license.
Career Trajectory for Athletic Trainers
Career-wise, being an athletic trainer isn't entirely unlike being a professional athlete: very few make it to the top, but those who do are very well compensated. Fortunately, trainers who don't make the big time still have solid career prospects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates growth in the athletic trainer field will be much faster than the average growth for all occupations.
The BLS reports that median annual earnings for athletic trainers were $36,560 in 2006. While no program can guarantee a position or salary, the growth of our sports culture means plenty of opportunities for graduates of sports science or sports medicine programs. The technological and procedural advances in the field make every day a learning experience.