What is a Certified Athletic Trainer?
Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers, health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute, and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations, and disabilities.
To become certified athletic trainers, students must graduate with bachelors or masters degree from an accredited professional athletic training education program and pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification. Once certified, they must meet ongoing continuing education requirements in order to remain certified.
While practice act oversight varies by state, athletic trainers practice under state statutes recognizing them as health care professionals. Athletic training licensure/regulation exists in 47 states.
ATHLETIC TRAINER VS. PERSONAL TRAINER
How do Athletic Trainers differ from Personal Trainers?
Places of employment
Athletic Trainers provide healthcare in many different settings including
- Secondary schools
- Colleges and universities
- Professional sports
- Hospitals, clinics, physician offices and sports medicine clinics
- Military and law enforcement
- Industrial and commercial
- Performing Arts
Athletic training education
In the United States Athletic Training Education Programs are accredited by the [Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education] (CAATE). Entry level athletic training education uses a competency-based approach in both the classroom and clinical settings. Students must receive instruction in the foundational courses of human physiology, human anatomy, exercise physiology, kinesiology/biomechanics, nutrition, acute care of injury and illness, statistics and research design, and strength training and reconditioning. The student must be introduced to professional coursework that encompasses the following domains:
- Risk management
- Pathology of injury/illness
- Prevention and assessment of injuries/illness
- General medical conditions and disabilities
- Therapeutic modalities
- Strength and Conditioning
- Therapeutic massage
- Emergency medicine
- Weight management, nutrition, and body composition
- Psychosocial intervention and referral
- Medical ethics and legal issues & Pharmacology
- Professional development and responsibilities
The profession of athletic training originated in the 1930s, with the majority of athletic trainers employed at colleges, universities, and high schools, providing services almost exclusively to athletes. This setting has been referred to as the "traditional setting" for athletic training employment. Between the years of 1947 and 1950, university athletic trainers started organizing themselves into separate regional conferences. In 1950, 101 athletic trainers from the various conferences met in Kansas City, Missouri, and officially formed the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), with its primary purpose: to set professional standards for the athletic trainer. The NATA has since seen remarkable growth. When the membership was first tracked in 1974, there were 4,500 members. As of today, there are more than 32,000 members. Over the past decade, the role of the athletic trainer has gradually grown to be linked to that of a health care provider. Today, more than 40 percent of athletic trainers are employed in clinics and hospitals working under the direction of a physician as physician extenders. While many athletic trainers continue to work in school settings, others are working as health care providers in all professional sports including rodeo and NASCAR, and some can even be found working with law enforcement departments and government agencies including NASA, the U.S. Senate, and at the Pentagon. Athletic trainers can also be found working internationally with more than 400 Certified Athletic Trainers working in 25 countries outside of the United States (most are in Japan or Canada).
Want to learn more about the profession of athletic training? Visit the National Athletic Trainers' Association website.