According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for athletic trainers is expected to be extremely high within the next few years. Currently, the estimated employment growth for the profession is approximately 37 percent. Western Carolina University offers a professional athletic training education program fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. Ninety-eight percent of the program’s graduates are currently employed in the field or pursuing graduate education, while 100 percent of graduates have become Certified Athletic Trainers. Career opportunities are primarily found in secondary schools, collegiate settings, sports medicine clinics and physician offices.
The WCU Athletic Training Education Program prepares students to become successful athletic trainers. The program promotes critical thinking and problem solving in a hands-on curriculum that exposes students to a wide variety of clinical education opportunities. Students interact with faculty and clinical instructors in the classroom, the laboratory and during clinical education experiences so that they can apply their knowledge to a “living laboratory.” In addition to athletic training courses such as Introduction to Athletic Training, Therapeutic Exercise, and Organization and Administration in Athletic Training, the major requirements include emergency medical care and nutrition and dietetics courses. Students may also further their education through the Western Athletic Training Association, which promotes and recognizes the Athletic Training Education Program and the field of athletic training.
Most athletic training education graduates opt for a master’s degree in a field directly related to athletic training. More than 95 percent of students who pursue graduate degrees do so as graduate assistants, receiving tuition waivers and stipends to assist with their continued education. Other students enter the workforce immediately and find employment in a variety of settings, from schools, colleges and universities to physician offices and sports medicine and rehabilitation clinics. Job seekers also find employment opportunities in hospitals and military, industry and performing arts settings. With employment growth for athletic training currently higher than other comparable health care fields, it is estimated that more than 12,000 new and replacement positions will open in the field within the next few years.