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Because the stresses of training, combat and recreational activities may have an impact on a soldier’s health--and therefore battle readiness--the Army uses athletic trainers to help manage sports- and training-related injuries among troops. Armed with knowledge of physiology and therapy, athletic trainers aren’t merely motivational personal trainers but skilled professionals. The Army doesn’t have a military occupation specialty for athletic trainers, but those with the proper training may find similar positions.
Army Athletic Trainers
Recruits with athletic trainer credentials enter into the Army as athletic training specialists or health educators, although military athletic training positions are severely limited in the Army, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. When athletic trainers enter the Army, they receive a base salary tied to their rank and the length of time they served. After basic training, this wage can range as widely as $1,644.90 per month for a private with less than two years in the service to $8,313.30 for a lieutenant colonel with more than 40 years in the Army.
Civilian Athletic Trainers
More often than working with enlisted athletic trainers, many Army installations hire civilian athletic trainers to perform the duties, according to the National Athletic Trainers' Association. These positions are somewhat rare. Civilian athletic trainers receive payment on the office of personnel management’s GS pay scale similar to other federal employees, and receive pay at GS-9 level, which provides between $41,563 and $54,028 in base pay, plus up to 32 percent in additional cost-of-living stipend in addition to base pay.
Student Athletic Trainers
Some college athletic trainer education programs team with nearby Army installations to provide athletic training services to troops who are in basic training or ROTC programs. Because these programs are interwoven into curriculum, in many cases, or are part of an internship program, students don’t receive payment for their services or perform at work-study wages. Some programs, such as the partnership between Auburn University’s Department of Kinesiology and Fort Benning, received funding directly from the Army.
Comparison to Average Athletic Trainer Salary
Civilian athletic trainers who work for the Army receive pay higher than the median compensation for athletic trainers. Nationwide, athletic trainers earned a mean annual salary of $44,030 as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Median income for the profession was $41,600, and half of all athletic trainers earned between $33,800 and $51,280 annually. Civilian athletic trainers employed by the Army begin drawing a salary nearly exact to their profession’s median income and may eventually earn higher than the 75th percentile wage for their profession.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Athletic Trainers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Athletic Trainers - Occupational Employment and Wages
- National Athletic Trainers' Association: Status of ATCs in the Military
- Auburn University College of Education; Graduate Athletic Trainers Help Keep Army Infatnry on Its Feet; December 2009
- Office of Personnel Management: Salary Table 2011-GS
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.