Athletic trainers must be licensed or certified in nearly all states.
Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree. Nearly all states require athletic trainers to have a license or certification; requirements vary by state.
Athletic trainers need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Master’s degree programs are also common, and may be preferred by some employers. Degree programs have classroom and clinical components, including science and health-related courses, such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and nutrition.
The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredits hundreds of athletic trainer programs, including postprofessional and residency athletic trainer programs.
High school students interested in postsecondary athletic training programs should take courses in anatomy, physiology, and physics.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Nearly all states require athletic trainers to be licensed or certified; requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the particular state’s licensing or credentialing board or athletic trainer association.
The Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC) offers the standard certification examination that most states use for licensing athletic trainers. Certification requires graduating from a CAATE-accredited program and passing the BOC exam. To maintain certification, athletic trainers must adhere to the BOC Standards of Professional Practice and take continuing education courses.
Compassion. Athletic trainers work with athletes and patients who may be in considerable pain or discomfort. The trainers must be sympathetic while providing treatments.
Decisionmaking skills. Athletic trainers must make informed clinical decisions that could affect the health or livelihood of patients.
Detail oriented. Athletic trainers must record patients’ progress accurately and ensure that they are receiving the appropriate treatments or practicing the correct fitness regimen.
Interpersonal skills. Athletic trainers must have strong interpersonal skills in order to manage difficult situations. They must communicate well with others, including physicians, patients, athletes, coaches, and parents.
Assistant athletic trainers may become head athletic trainers, athletic directors, or physician, hospital, or clinic practice administrators. In any of these positions, they will assume a management role. Athletic trainers working in colleges and universities may pursue an advanced degree to increase their advancement opportunities.