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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s new master’s degree in athletic training is designed to prepare graduates for careers on playing fields and in locker rooms, or in medical centers and at large corporations.

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who prevent, diagnose and treat injuries to the human body’s musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.

Their expertise is needed in a range of settings, said Dr. Gregg Davis, an associate professor who leads UL Lafayette’s School of Kinesiology.

“An aging population coupled with an overall focus on health and wellness nationwide is driving a demand for highly qualified athletic trainers capable of working in many different environments,” Davis explained.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment for athletic trainers will increase by 16 percent between 2019 and 2029.

The 55-credit hour master’s degree in athletic training program is structured to be completed in six semesters. A cohort of students will be admitted once a year. The first group will begin in June as part of the full-time, year-round program.

Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, dean of the University’s Graduate School, said the launch of the new degree program underscores an ongoing, campus-wide focus on “ensuring that our students have access to professions that are changing rapidly.”

“After 2022, athletic trainers will have to hold master’s degrees to meet national certification requirements,” Farmer-Kaiser explained. “The master’s in athletic training, like all of our programs, is designed to position graduates to land high-demand jobs and seek advancement opportunities.”

Aimee Gros is an instructor in the School of Kinesiology who will teach and advise students enrolled in the new degree program. Athletic trainers “work with sports teams, for the military, in performing arts – almost anywhere there are physically active people or where injuries can occur,” she said.

That includes large companies, which hire athletic trainers to lead or work on teams of health care professionals who implement health and wellness programs for employees.

“Working for sports teams at all levels is still a common career goal, but companies are increasingly hiring athletic trainers as injury prevention specialists. They instruct employees about things like proper lifting techniques, ways to sit to prevent back problems, or provide in-house treatment for certain injuries,” Gros explained.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or related allied health field can apply for admission into the athletics training graduate program. It includes a thesis track for students interested in becoming teachers or researchers, and non-thesis track for students who intend to work full-time.

Both tracks include clinical rotations with athletic trainers, physicians, nurses, physical therapists, emergency medical technicians, physician’s assistants and other health care professionals.

“An understanding of other health care professionals’ roles can, in many circumstances, be as essential to athletic trainers as the ability to evaluate or treat injuries,” Gros explained.

Learn more about UL Lafayette’s master’s degree in athletic training program.

Photo caption: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s new master’s degree in athletic training program is designed to prepare students for a range of careers, including work with sports teams, helping physicians diagnose and treat patients, or as injury prevention specialists for large companies. Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette