What Do NFL Athletic Trainers Make?

FactorImpact on Salary
ExperienceSignificant: Entry-level: $30,000+, Seasoned: $100,000+
Team LocationModerate: Big-market teams (NY Giants, Dallas Cowboys) tend to offer higher salaries
SpecializationPositive: Certifications in strength & conditioning, sports psychology can increase pay
PerformancePositive: Exceeding expectations often leads to raises & bonuses

Picture this: the deafening roar of the crowd, the electrifying energy of Sunday Night Football, and a player crumpled on the field. In that split second, a figure bursts onto the scene, their green jersey blazing under the stadium lights. They’re the unsung heroes, the silent guardians of player health: NFL athletic trainers. But beyond the adrenaline rush and sideline glory, what does this career path truly entail, and most importantly, what do NFL athletic trainers make?


NFL athletic trainers are far more than glorified bandage dispensers. They’re highly skilled healthcare professionals who shoulder a multifaceted role throughout the season. Imagine them as walking encyclopedias of human anatomy, constantly evaluating injuries, administering first aid, and crafting personalized rehabilitation plans. But their expertise extends beyond the physical. They become confidantes, motivators, and emotional coaches, supporting players through the mental and psychological challenges of a demanding sport.

Here’s a glimpse into their day-to-day realities

  • Pre-game prep: Analyzing game film, studying player injury history, and preparing equipment.
  • On-field presence: Responding to acute injuries, providing immediate care, and stabilizing players for transport.
  • Rehabilitation & recovery: Developing personalized treatment plans, overseeing therapy sessions, and monitoring progress.
  • Preventative measures: Implementing injury prevention strategies, conducting strength and conditioning programs, and promoting overall wellness.
  • Psychological support: Offering mental health guidance, managing stress, and fostering a positive team environment.

Remember, these tasks don’t occur in a vacuum. Travel, long hours, and intense pressure are constant companions, demanding physical and mental resilience.

What Do NFL Athletic Trainers Make
What Do NFL Athletic Trainers Make

Salary Secrets of the Green Brigade

Now, to the burning question: how much do NFL athletic trainers make? Buckle up, because the answer involves a spectrum of factors:

  • Experience: Like most careers, years of experience significantly impact salary. Entry-level trainers might start around $30,000, while seasoned veterans can command upwards of $100,000.
  • Team location: Salaries can vary based on team location and cost of living. Big-market teams like the New York Giants or Dallas Cowboys might offer higher salaries than smaller-market teams.
  • Specialization: Trainers with specialized certifications in areas like strength and conditioning or sports psychology might earn more.
  • Performance: Like any profession, exceptional performance and exceeding expectations can translate into raises and bonuses.

On average, NFL athletic trainers earn around $75,000 annually. While it’s a respectable income, it’s important to consider the demanding nature of the job and the long hours invested.

Perks and Pitfalls of the Profession

So, is being an NFL athletic trainer simply about the paycheck? Not! While the financial aspect is important, there are other unique rewards:

  • Working with elite athletes: Imagine the thrill of being part of a world-class team, witnessing peak human performance firsthand.
  • Fast-paced, dynamic environment: Every day brings new challenges and opportunities, keeping things exciting and never dull.
  • Travel and exposure: Experiencing different cities and stadiums, immersing yourself in the vibrant world of professional sports.
  • Making a difference: Knowing your work impacts player health and performance, contributing to their success and well-being.

However, it’s not all sunshine and touchdowns. Being an NFL athletic trainer also comes with challenges:

  • Long hours and demanding schedules: Expect to work nights, weekends, and holidays, sacrificing personal time for the team.
  • High pressure and stressful environment: Performance scrutiny, player expectations, and potential for public criticism can weigh heavily.
  • Travel-related fatigue and disruptions: Constant travel can strain personal relationships and disrupt your normal routine.
  • Risk of burnout: The physically and mentally demanding nature of the job can lead to exhaustion and emotional strain.

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Is This the Right Fit for You?

If you’re considering a career as an NFL athletic trainer, self-reflection is crucial. Do you possess the dedication, resilience, and passion to excel in a demanding environment? Are you comfortable with long hours, travel, and pressure? Do you thrive
in a fast-paced, high-intensity atmosphere?

If the answer is a resounding yes, then the rewarding journey might be worth the pursuit. Remember, the financial compensation is just one piece of the puzzle. Consider the intangible rewards, personal growth opportunities, and unique experiences this career path offers


What are the physical demands of the job?

Being an NFL athletic trainer requires physical stamina and agility to respond quickly on the field and manage long hours.

What are the educational costs involved?

Earning a bachelor’s degree, certifications, and a potential master’s degree can be expensive. Consider scholarships, financial aid, and loan options.

What is the job outlook for NFL athletic trainers?

The outlook is generally positive, with projected growth in the coming years. However, competition for positions can be fierce.

Can I work with a specific NFL team?

Networking, targeting teams you’re passionate about, and demonstrating relevant skills can increase your chances.

What are the alternative career paths for athletic trainers?

Many options exist outside of the NFL, including working with college teams, high schools, or private practices.

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