How to Become an NHL Athletic Trainer

Aisha Visram recently became the first female athletic trainer in the NHL. Maybe you’ve heard the news and got excited about pursuing your athletic training career in the NHL. Or perhaps you’ve been working towards this career for a while. Either way, it’ll be important to know what it takes to get hired as an NHL athletic trainer so you can get started.

What Does an NHL Athletic Trainer Do?

Before applying for NHL athletic trainer jobs, you must know what these employees do. At a high level, these are medical professionals who help to make sure that NHL players are physically ready for practice and games. But there’s a lot that goes into that.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Keeping the athletic training room staffed with all necessary supplies, including tape, ice, and heat pads
  • Helping players warm up with stretching, injury assessments, and other types of preparatory training before practices and games
  • Evaluating and resolving new potential injuries during and after practices and games
  • Helping athletes recover during non-training or playing days
  • Being available for players who make special training requests

The bottom line is that it’s an NHL athletic trainer’s job to ensure that players are fit and capable of playing as often as possible.

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How Much Does an NHL Athletic Trainer Make?

As you consider whether this career is right for you or not, it’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with athletic trainer NHL salaries.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for any athletic trainer is $47,576. But NHL athletic trainers tend to make more than this because they’re working at the profession’s highest level.

For example, the average salary for an athletic trainer with the Boston Bruins is between $88,401 and $96,121. It isn’t easy to give an exact figure since this is a rare position with few salary data points.

But you can assume that you will make more than the average athletic trainer and perhaps somewhere close to what the Boston Bruins pay their staff members for this role.

How to Become an Athletic Trainer in the National Hockey League

Now we’re ready to take a closer look at what it takes to become an NHL athletic trainer. There are several vital steps in this process, and we’ll give you an in-depth look at each in the sections below.

Education and Certification

The first thing you’ll need is a bachelor’s degree in athletic training or a related field from an accredited university. While pursuing that degree, you’ll learn many of the same skills that you would if you were training to become a physical therapist or personal trainer.

The key difference is that your classes will show you how to apply the lessons from those fields to athletes specifically, which will involve courses on:

  • Exercise science
  • Kinesiology
  • Sports medicine
  • Related fields

You may also want to pursue a master’s degree in one of these fields. That’s because professional athletic training jobs are highly competitive, and earning an advanced degree may help your application stand out.

Finally, you will need to earn a certification from CAATE. To get this, you have to earn your degree and then sit for a licensing exam. After earning certification, you’ll have to take continuing education classes throughout your career to maintain it.


It can also be helpful to work on developing the general skills that athletic trainers need to thrive, such as:

  • Ability to perform in high-stress situations
  • Good medical evaluation skills
  • Strong relationship-building capabilities
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Patience and persistence

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The more experience you have before applying to an NHL athletic training job, the better. But not all experience is created equal. NHL teams tend to value previous athletic training experience in hockey the most.

You could gain that experience by working for minor league hockey teams as an athletic trainer or potentially a college team. For example, you could work with your college’s hockey team while pursuing your degree.

Professional athletic training experience in other sports can also be valuable because they show that you can adapt your skills to different situations and that you know how to work with professional athletes.

It’ll just be essential for you to have some way of showing NHL teams that you understand hockey well enough to be a trainer for that sport specifically. Playing the game at a high level can also help satisfy this requirement.


Finding any job in the NHL can be challenging. If you want to break into the league, focusing on building relationships within it can be beneficial. You could do that by taking internships, volunteering, and through any other ways that you can think of to start forming NHL relationships. 

Some of the relationships you form at the collegiate or minor league level can also be very beneficial.

Search and Apply

Finally, you’re ready to begin searching for jobs and applying for them. To give yourself the best chances of success, you’ll want to apply for jobs quickly as soon as they get posted. That way, NHL teams see your resume and cover letter near the top of the stack. This simple action could help to boost your chances of finding your dream job.

Getting Started

Are you ready to take the first step toward becoming an NHL athletic trainer? If so, is here to help.

We maintain an up-to-date list of the best job opportunities in professional and collegiate sports – including the NHL. You can sign up to receive notifications so that you know the moment that a new NHL trainer job gets posted by a team.

So why wait? Make sure you don’t miss out on your next opportunity. Create an account with us today.