What Is The Average NBA Athletic Trainer’s Salary?

They say that it takes a whole organization for a team to win an NBA Championship. However, when we watch successful NBA teams, we look only at the players and coaches. We don’t think of the people working behind the scene to ensure team success — one of them is the NBA athletic trainers.

So, if NBA athletic trainers are essential to a team, how much do they make?

According to Career Explorer Guide, the average NBA athletic trainer’s annual salary is around $55,767. Some athletic trainers can earn from $54,840 to $61,900 and will vary depending on the trainer’s experience, skill level, and location.

Now let us look closer at how much NBA trainers make.

What is the Average Salary for NBA Athletic Trainers?

NBA Athletic Trainers are some of the unspoken heroes of the league. They ensure that the players are always in healthy condition night in and night out. They are also responsible for ensuring that injuries are minimized, and the recovery rate is high.

According to the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, every NBA team must have at least one head athletic trainer and another assistant athletic trainer full-time. And since there are only 30 teams in the league, NBA athletic trainers are part of the select group. So, they should earn relatively high, right?

The data from Career Explorer Guide shows that athletic trainers earn an average annual salary of $55,767, which is relatively higher than the US national average salary of  $53,490 per year.

Inexperienced NBA athletic trainers with less than two years of experience can earn around $54,840, while trainers with more than five years can earn about $61,900. Aside from the usual responsibilities of athletic trainers, they can also have other income sources, like private training in colleges and high schools.

What is an NBA Athletic Trainer?

NBA Athletic Trainers are health professionals identified explicitly in the NBA CBA as requirements for every team. They are responsible and specialize in preventing, detecting, and caring for players’ injuries. They may not be as well-known as the coaches, but they play a crucial part in a player’s success.

Athletic trainers are the immediate healthcare practitioners usually present during the games so that they can respond quickly during emergencies. They are also part of the team’s health professionals. They must also work with the team physicians and strength and conditioning coaches.

What are the Duties and Responsibilities of NBA Trainers?

Basketball trainer with a ball

NBA Athletic Trainers have several responsibilities throughout the season, but here are some of the most common activities they do according to the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association (NBTA), which is connected to the NBA.

1. Apply injury-prevention measures

NBA Trainers’ primary role is preventing injuries, which they accomplish by properly applying tapes and bandages before games. They are also tasked with ensuring that players are healthy enough to play in the game.

2. Identify and assess player injuries and illnesses

Immediate identification and assessment of injuries are crucial to avoid worsening an already-existing injury, so trainers must recognize injuries or weaknesses in players.

3. Perform first aid and emergency treatment

NBA Trainers are the first line of emergency care for players who unexpectedly suffer an injury. So they need to know first aid and how to manage hurt players.

However, some players will still push to play through the pain, so it is also their responsibility to assess if the players can continue with the game.

4. Develop and implement rehabilitation procedures for injured players

Injuries are part of the game. With basketball now played faster and stronger, more players fall victim to career-threatening injuries.

If that happens, athletic trainers must personalize a rehabilitation plan that will help injured players recover to their pre-injury selves.

5. Perform administrative tasks

Aside from their physical responsibilities to players, NBA trainers must also perform administrative tasks to ensure that recording and reporting injuries, prevention measures, and rehabilitation are adequately documented.

What Degree Should you Obtain to be an NBA Trainer?

The first requirement to be an NBA athletic trainer is to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in athletic training and sports science. Based on the profiles taken from the NBTA, here are the most frequent degrees to land the position.

  • Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree in Athletic Training – 33 Trainers with this degree
  • Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree in Kinesiology – 12 Trainers with this degree
  • Bachelor/Master of Science in Exercise Science – 11 Trainers with this degree

Some of the less frequent degrees but still landed a job in NBA Teams include:

  • Bachelor/Master of Science in Physical Education – 4 Trainers with this degree
  • Bachelor/Master of Science in Physical Therapy – 4 Trainers with this degree
  • Bachelor/Master of Science in Physiotherapy – 3 Trainers with this degree
  • Bachelor/Master of Science in Health Science – 3 Trainers with this degree
  • Bachelor’s /Master’s Degree in Physical Activity and Health – 2 Trainers with this degree

How to Become an NBA Trainer?

Trainer helping an athlete in the gym

Since NBA Athletic Trainers are tasked with taking care of physically active professional athletes playing at the highest level every single game, NBA trainers are also expected to be great. The NBA CBA is also specific about what trainers should be.

For first-time athletic trainers:

  • Must be a certified athletic trainer by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) or Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA).
  • Must have a certification in Basic Cardiac Life Support or Basic Trauma Life Support.

For NBA athletic trainers aiming to be the head athletic trainer:

  • Same qualification as the first-time athletic trainers; and
  • Three years of experience as an athletic trainer.


Lastly, aside from their educational background, certifications, and experience, NBA Athletic Trainers must also have the right connections to inform them of openings. But they can still check the NBA Careers site for vacancies.


The latest NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement made sure that players are not only taken care of on the financial side but, more importantly, on the physical side, which is the bread and butter of their NBA careers.

NBA Athletic Trainers may not earn as much as the players or coaches, but their contribution to the team cannot be underestimated.

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