How do I Become an Athletic Trainer?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2019
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Athletic trainers are medical professionals who work with professional and amateur athletes to treat and prevent sports-related injuries. They may work indoors in hospitals or private offices or on site at athletic events, providing direct care when needed. There are several steps a person must take to become an athletic trainer. A prospective trainer must usually obtain a bachelor's degree or higher in athletic training or a related field, gain certification from an accredited program, and devote several years to mastering the job.

A high school student who hopes to eventually become an athletic trainer can begin learning about the field by taking courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, and health science. Many high school students supplement their classroom education by assisting athletic trainers in their high schools' sports programs. Students gain valuable firsthand knowledge of different training programs, first aid techniques, and safety equipment.

Those who wish to pursue athletic trainer careers typically enroll in four year colleges with accredited athletic training education programs. Most universities offer bachelor's degrees or higher in athletic training, exercise science, and similar health programs. Master's and doctoral programs in athletic training are popular, but someone can work as an athletic trainer with no more than a bachelor's degree.


Master's degree programs in athletic training usually take about two years to complete, while PhD programs may take three to four years. Students receive extensive classroom and clinical training in exercise physiology, emergency care, nutrition, and rehabilitation techniques. Prospective athletic trainers frequently take education and communication classes as well, since a significant portion of their careers will involve providing instruction to athletes about injury prevention.

In addition to meeting educational requirements, a person must gain certification to become an athletic trainer. In the United States, this entails passing an exam administered by the Board of Certification. Trainers are usually required to take occasional continuing education and refresher courses to maintain certification and stay informed about new techniques and equipment pertinent to their jobs.

Bachelor's and master's degree holders are qualified to obtain training positions at high schools and public clinics. Those doctoral degrees generally have more employment opportunities with universities, professional sports organizations, hospitals, and private practices. Job prospects are generally abundant, as athletes at all levels of competition require the services qualified professionals.

A person who wants to become an athletic trainer may also be interested in personal and fitness training. Personal trainers design individual exercise and diet plans for clients, allowing them to increase their physical fitness and stay healthy. While personal trainers are not usually engaged in caring for injuries, their services are valuable for preventing injuries.


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Post 3

Becoming an athletic trainer has been my dream since I was a little kid. I know that sounds weird but it is true. I just graduated high school and it looks like I am not going to have the money for college for at least a few years. How do I become an athletic trainer if I haven't been to college? Is there anything I can do to prepare myself while I am waiting to start school?

Post 2

One thing that many people don't realize is that professional athletes often spend more time with their trainers than they do their coaches. No matter how good of shape you are in, professional athletics takes a tremendous toll on the body. It is the trainers job to facilitate the fastest and most complete recovery that is medically possible.

Athletes will spend hours getting massaged, going through physical therapy exercises and swimming in ice baths. It takes a lot to keep those bodies performing at an elite level.

Post 1

You can get a lot of valuable experience as an athletic trainer when you are in college. Most athletic departments will allow student volunteers or even student employees who help administer the training facilities and do some of the work on the athletes. It is almost like an internship.

I had several friends who did that in college. They all hoped to go on to become athletic trainers at the professional level. And all but one of them is working at that level now. So obviously getting real world experience as early as you can helps a lot.

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