How to Become an Athletic Trainer

How to Become an Athletic Trainer

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

At a minimum, certified athletic trainers hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited athletic training program. If not, they must meet other requirements set by the Board of Certification.

These educational programs focus on five general areas:

  • Prevention
  • Clinical Evaluation & Diagnosis
  • Immediate & Emergency Care
  • Treatment & Rehabilitation
  • Organization & Professional Health & Well-Being

Students must receive formal education in:

  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Injury prevention & management
  • Pathology of injuries and illnesses
  • Acute care of injuries and illnesses
  • Pharmacology
  • Therapeutic exercises and modalities
  • Common medical conditions and frequently occurring disabilities
  • Nutritional components related to injury and illness
  • Psychosocial intervention and referral
  • Professional development and responsibilities

The preparation timeline below outlines the suggested courses:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • College Algebra & Statistics
  • Introduction to Kinesiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Statistics
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Applied Kinesiology
  • Athletic Care & Prevention
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Nutrition for Atheletes
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Lower Body Injury Evaluation
  • Athletic Training Clinical I & II
  • Exercise Testing
  • Upper Body Injury Evaluation
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Health in the US
  • Health Education & Planning
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Policy
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

Not only do students receive academic studies, students also participate in a variety of clinical training practice settings, such as high schools, colleges, universities, emergency rooms, hospitals, health care clinics and physicians’ offices.

Schools that provide training for this career should be accredited to provide this type of training. Accreditation can be verified through the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

2. Earn the Required Certification & Licensure

In order to become a Certified Athletic Trainer, you must complete the certification exam administered by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer. Depending on whether you're a member of the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), the certification fee varies.

Members pay only $34, while non-members pay $50. The exam is administered five times per year, each having a window of nearly two weeks.

Exam results are posted in BOC Central™ and mailed 2-4 weeks from the last day of the exam window via You can find more information, registration, practice exams, and the candidate handbook here.

3. Consider a Master's Degree (2 Years)

Although it is not necessary for entry into the field, your prospects will be much better with a master's degree than a bachelor's.

If you intend to continue and complete and master's program, you should aim to maintain a high GPA during your undergraduate career since most graduate schools require a minimum of a 3.0 for consideration. A GPA of 3.4-3.8 is ideal.

4. Maintain Certifications & Continuing Education

Athletic trainers are required to maintain a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) during their certification maintenance period.

  • Trainers who were certified prior to 2014 must complete 50 CEUs, including at least 10 Evidence-Based Practice CEUs
  • Those who in or after 2014 must complete 25 CEUs, including at least 5 Evidence Based Practice CEUs

Click here for more information regarding Athletic Trainer CEUs