A male athletic trainer supports a female trainee lifting dumbbells, highlighting financial aspects in 'How much does it cost to become an athletic trainer' by INSURE FITNESS GROUP.

How Much Does it Cost to Become an Athletic Trainer?

Table of Contents

How much does it cost to become an athletic trainer? This pressing question for aspiring athletic trainers encompasses tuition, certification, equipment, and unexpected extras. Our guide cuts straight to the chase, providing clear cost breakdowns for educational programs and everything that follows while sparing you the sales talk. We also touch on financial aid options that can help ease the financial load on your journey to certification.

Key Takeaways

  • Becoming an athletic trainer varies widely based on the education level, with associate degree programs averaging $16,000 and Master’s Degrees costing up to $21,075 for out-of-state students.
  • Additional expenses beyond tuition include textbooks, equipment, certification fees, and other incidentals, potentially adding significant costs to the education of an athletic trainer.
  • There are multiple strategies to mitigate the costs of athletic training education, such as financial aid options (scholarships, grants, and loans), attending community college first, and engaging in part-time work or internships.

Understanding Athletic Training Programs

Athletic training programs are tailored to equip students with the skills to work alongside physicians in preventing and treating sports injuries. These programs encompass:

  • Identification, evaluation, and treatment of athletic injuries
  • Emergency care
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • A deep understanding of anatomy, physiology, and sports demands

The estimated costs of these programs can vary greatly depending on the level of education, the institution, and the number of credit hours required, all contributing to the total cost.

Certificate and Associate Degree Programs

Certificate and associate degree programs offer a faster route into the field, appealing to those eager to start their career early. With 32 educational institutions offering associate degree programs in Athletic Training and 1 offering a certificate program, a range of choices is available. These programs typically have shorter completion times and lower tuition costs, with the average cost being $16,000 for vocational programs.

They cover fundamental knowledge essential for the field with sports medicine, exercise science, biology, and physical education courses.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

A Bachelor’s Degree program in athletic training offers a more comprehensive education. The curriculum is wide-ranging, encompassing:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Injury prevention and management
  • Therapeutic modalities
  • Rehabilitation techniques
  • Hands-on clinical experience

Renowned universities such as the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, A T Still University of Health Sciences, University of Georgia, and Boston University offer such programs.

Following graduation, the typical earning for individuals with a Bachelor’s Degree in athletic training is $55,432.

Master’s Degree Programs

Master’s Degree Programs provide an opportunity for further exploration and advanced training in the field. While this is a more substantial financial commitment, the potential return is considerable. The typical expenditure for a Master’s Degree Program in Athletic Training is $11,290 for state residents and $21,075 for out-of-state students.

This investment can result in significant salary increases and open doors to high-profile positions in the athletic training industry.

Additional Expenses to Consider

Besides the program’s cost, one should not overlook the additional expenses of studying athletic training. For instance, textbooks and equipment are necessary investments that students need to factor in when enrolling in an athletic training program. The average expenditure for textbooks in athletic training programs is around $500 per semester.

Beyond textbooks and equipment, students may also need to allocate funds for the following:

  • Immunizations
  • Suitable attire
  • First aid and CPR certifications
  • E-value
  • Drug screening
  • Criminal background checks
  • Transportation for off-campus clinical field experiences

Certification fees are another integral component of the supplementary expenses.

Textbooks and Equipment

The cost of textbooks for Athletic Training programs can range from $79.95 to $1,350 per year. Additionally, the equipment required for these programs can surpass $10,000 and includes:

  • Athletic tape
  • Pre-wrap
  • Fabric bandages
  • Medical examination gloves
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Athletic assessment tools
  • Other performance training equipment

However, students can mitigate these costs by acquiring used or discounted textbooks and equipment through various methods, such as:

  • Adopting textbooks
  • Obtaining access to free materials from sales representatives
  • Shopping at specialized stores like Medco Athletics for rehab products
  • Exploring resources and tools for educational materials provided by organizations such as the NATA

NATA Membership and Certification Exams

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is a professional membership association for certified athletic trainers and those advocating for the profession. As such, membership and certification through NATA are essential for professional development and career advancement. The certification exams pertain to the Board of Certification (BOC) exam, recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, and is the sole accredited certification program for athletic trainers.

The fees for the NATA certification exam are $375 for the examination and $29 for the study guide (member price).

Financial Aid Options for Athletic Training Students

While the costs of studying athletic training may seem daunting, numerous financial aid options are available to ease the burden. Indeed, students pursuing athletic training may have the opportunity to utilize scholarships, loans, and other types of financial aid provided by their program, college, or university.

Entities such as the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association (NYSATA), and the Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society (MATS) provide grants to students who are enrolled in athletic training programs.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are a fantastic way to reduce the overall cost of an athletic training education. Accessible national scholarships for athletic training students comprise The National Athletic Trainer’s Association Research and Education Foundation, PFATS / NATA Scholarship Series, and Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship. Some universities also provide specific scholarships.

For instance, USF Health provides an incoming student scholarship of $1,500 plus two additional scholarships, each offering up to $1,000. Students can apply for these scholarships through organizations like The National Athletic Trainer’s Association Research and Education Foundation, PFATS / NATA Scholarship Series, and ScholarshipPoints.

Student Loans

For some students, student loans may be the only way to finance their athletic training education. However, they should be considered carefully due to potential long-term debt. Students enrolled in athletic training programs can access various student loans, including Federal Direct Loans, PLUS Loans, and private student loans.

Federal student loans, such as Direct Unsubsidized Loans, are available for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and may range in debt from $50,000 to $200,000. Interest rates for student loans in athletic training programs may vary, with a common rate being 6.5%. Repayment is typically structured on a standard 10-year plan by default. However, there may be options for alternative repayment plans based on eligibility.

However, considering the potential for significant debt and long-term commitment, it is advisable for students to thoroughly evaluate the necessity and carefully assess the benefits versus the risks before opting for student loans to pursue athletic training education.

Comparing Athletic Training Program Costs at Different Universities

After gaining a firm grasp of the various programs and their costs, comparing the expenses of athletic training programs at different universities becomes a valuable exercise. Factors such as whether the university is public or private and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student can significantly impact the cost of your education.

Public vs. Private Universities

Public universities typically have lower tuition costs than private institutions, charging 70.84% less for in-state students. The average expenditure for athletic training programs at public universities in the United States amounts to $34,320 for the top 50 programs.

Conversely, the average annual expense of athletic training programs at private universities in the United States is $19,991. The higher costs at private universities are due to their greater dependence on student tuition fees, alumni donations, and endowments. In contrast, public universities benefit from state government funding, which contributes to the maintenance of lower tuition costs.

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition

The cost of tuition can also vary greatly depending on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student at a public university. The average tuition and fees at public, four-year colleges for out-of-state students amount to $18,809, whereas for in-state students, it is $8,487. This difference is because tax dollars subsidize public colleges and universities from the state. Consequently, students who reside in that state benefit from reduced tuition compared to non-resident students who have not contributed to the state through taxes.

However, students may become eligible for in-state tuition at universities outside their home state by meeting residency requirements or by exploring reciprocity agreements or regional exchange programs, which can offer reduced tuition fees.

Tips for Reducing the Cost of Becoming an Athletic Trainer

Despite financial aid availability, the expenses associated with becoming an athletic trainer can be substantial. Nevertheless, several strategies can help mitigate these costs. Let’s explore two of the most effective: attending community college first and seeking part-time work or internships.

Attending Community College First

Starting your education at a community college and then transferring to a four-year university is a viable strategy to cut down on tuition costs significantly. Community colleges generally charge lower tuition fees than four-year universities. As a result, individuals who attend community college before transferring to a university for athletic training can save an average of $16,000 on tuition compared to students who directly enroll in four-year universities.

Based on student budget assessments conducted by financial aid offices, the potential savings from attending a community college can reach up to $30,000 or more.

Seeking Out Part-Time Work or Internships

Seeking part-time work or internships in the field presents another practical approach to easing the financial burden of an athletic training education. These opportunities can offset costs and provide valuable real-life experience. Common part-time jobs for students studying athletic training include positions such as student athletic trainer, athletic training student jobs, and part-time athletic trainer roles, with wages ranging from $10.00 to $13.34 per hour.

In addition to alleviating educational costs, internships provide athletic training students with valuable real-life experience, the opportunity to acquire practical skills, and exposure to various settings within the athletic training environment, all crucial for their future career advancement.


Becoming an athletic trainer is no small investment. The costs can quickly add up from tuition to textbooks, equipment, and certification fees. However, with careful planning, thorough research, and strategic decision-making, it’s possible to mitigate these costs and make your dream of becoming an athletic trainer a reality. Whether choosing a more affordable program, taking advantage of financial aid, or seeking part-time work or internships in the field, remember that every penny saved is a step closer to your goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can athletic trainers make six figures?

Some athletic trainers can make six figures, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $78,000 annually. Work experience may play a role in achieving this salary level.

What is the average age of athletic trainers?

The average age of athletic trainers is 40 years old, with the most common ethnicity being White at 61.8%.

What is the average cost of a Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training?

The average cost of a Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training can vary. Still, individuals with this degree typically earn around $55,432 post-graduation.

What is the price of the NATA certification exams?

The NATA certification exam costs $375 for the exam and $29 for the study guide for members. It is important to consider these costs when planning to take the exam.

Are there any financial aid options specifically designed for students studying athletic training?

Yes, students studying athletic training may have access to scholarships, loans, and other financial aid offered by their school or program.

Meet The Author:

Parker Franklin

Parker, IFG’s Brand Manager since 2022, began his wellness journey in 2020, leading to a significant personal transformation. He holds a journalism degree from Murray State University and started his career as an award-winning journalist in western Kentucky before transitioning into marketing and PR. At IFG, Parker is responsible for writing content, managing The Fit newsletter, and overseeing promotions and collaborations with affiliate fitness organizations.