Difference between an Athletic Trainer and a Personal Trainer

The functions of an athletic trainer and a personal trainer may overlap sometimes, or may even appear to be exactly the same. Nevertheless, the fact is that these are two distinct professions with completely different roles. While a personal trainer trains either at health clubs or gyms to help people become physically more fit and muscle bound, an athletic trainer is meant to help his clients recover from injuries. Athletic trainers are often employed by schools, colleges, hospitals and the military.


An athletic trainer usually works in collaboration with other medical experts with an aim to prevent injuries, or diagnose and treat them. The job of an athletic trainer includes rehabilitation or conditioning of his clients’ body, for example muscles or bones. It is natural for an athlete to get injured during practice or competition. Thus, their athletic trainer helps them perform to the best of their ability. Usually a candidate with a master’s degree is preferred by employers for this position, although contenders with bachelor’s degree may also be selected.

Athletic Trainer vs Personal Trainer

Personal trainers, on the other hand, are meant to monitor and coach sportspersons on their exercise regime. These kinds of trainers motivate their clients as well as provide them with feedback so as to help them improve in their particular sport. The job of a personal trainer demands him to conduct fitness assessments to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their clients. The plus point of a personal trainer is that they are not limited to providing sports training, but may even go further, to teach other facets of health and fitness such as nutrition guidelines.

Athletic Trainer vs Personal Trainer

The key difference between an athletic trainer and personal trainer is their education. Employers may apply different eligibility criteria for selecting trainers, but personal trainers can apply even with a simple certification. Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree to start with their job.

The other major difference is in the clients of the two types of trainers. For example, individuals seeking an overall progress in their health and hygiene may require a personal trainer. Then again, there are those who need to get better in terms of mobility and physical health. These individuals need an athletic trainer.

Athletic trainers are also paid more compared to personal trainers.

Comparison Chart

Athletic Trainer Personal Trainer
Athletic trainers are medical experts who help prevent and treat their clients’ injuries at a sports location. Personal trainers are those health professionals who train people to remain physically fit.
Athletic trainers require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. They need to be licensed. Personal trainers require a certification to get employed, and sometimes they may require a bachelor’s degree in physical education.