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What is an athletic trainer?

Athletic Trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers work with all types of physically active individuals in a variety of settings.

How do I become an athletic trainer?

  1. Attend an accredited program
    • Currently the minimum degree to get certified is a Bachelors
    • Starting in the year 2022, the minimum changes to a Masters
    • A list of accredited programs can be found on the CAATE's website (found under the links tab)
  2. Pass a national certification test (BOC)
  3. Obtain State Credentials
    • Most states require a license to practice
    • Some states have other forms of regulation (registration, certification, etc.)
  4. Attend Continuing Education to maintain certification
    • ATs must participate in 50 hours of CE every 2 years
    • Renew CPR/AED Certification every 2 years

What do the letters after an athletic trainers' name mean?

The letters stand for different degrees, certifications, or licenses held by athletic trainers. The most common abbreviations are below.

  • ATC- Certified Athletic Trainer
  • LAT- Licensed Athletic Trainer
  • MS- Masters of Science
  • CSCS- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Athletic Training Domains

Domains are the general areas in which athletic trainers are responsible for providing care. They encompass everything an athletic trainer does on a daily basis and much more. Some examples are given below each domain but if you are interested, each domain is broken down further by the NATA and BOC (see links tab for links to those organizations' websites)

  1. Injury & Illness Prevention & Wellness Promotion
    • Preventative Warmup Planning
    • Hydration
    • Educating patients on nutrition, injury prevention, weight lifting, etc.
    • Educating Coaches
  2. Examination, Assessment, & Diagnosis
    • Evaluating Orthopedic Injuries
    • Evaluating Concussions
    • Evaluating General Medical Conditions
    • Determining Return to Play Status
  3. Immediate & Emergency Care
    • CPR/AED Usage
    • Emergency Splinting
    • Developing Emergency Action Plans
  4. Therapeutic Intervention
    • Therapeutic Modalities
    • Therapeutic Exercises
    • Taping/Bracing
    • First Aid
  5. Healthcare Administration & Professional Responsibility
    • Developing Policies for Sport Safety
    • Documentation
    • Communicating with parents, teachers, administration, etc.
    • Maintaining Continuing Education to stay current on best practices

Athletic Training Settings

Athletic Trainers work in a variety of settings besides high schools. Some places you might find athletic trainers providing health care include:

  • Secondary Schools
  • College Athletics
  • Professional Sports (Traditional Sports, NASCAR, Rodeo, etc.)
  • Performing Arts (Dance, Marching Bands, Cirque du Soleil, etc.)
  • Tactical Medicine (Military, Police Academies, Firefighters)
  • Physician Offices (As physician Extenders)
  • Physical Therapy/Sports Rehabilitation Clinics
  • Research/Education
  • Health Care Administration
  • Industrial/Ergonomics (Factories, Assembly Lines, UPS, etc.)