CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become an athletic trainer.
Is becoming an athletic trainer right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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It is never too early to start preparing for your career as an athletic trainer. High school biology will provide foundational knowledge on how to treat injuries to the human body and physics can be a useful grounding for university level courses. Pay particular attention, as well, to English and speech classes, which will begin to prepare you to communicate with athletes, coaches, medical staff, and other potential clients.
Consider joining a sports team or sports club to build experience working with athletes and a team. If your high school has an athletic trainer, ask to shadow and observe him/her for a day.
Earn a bachelor’s degree in athletic training by completing a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. Participate in hands-on clinical education under the direct supervision of an experienced athletic trainer.
Although employers will consider hiring new graduates without previous experience, gaining experience while in school will give students a competitive edge in the job market. Students can participate in summer internships, which provide hands-on training in how to develop training programs, conduct patient evaluations, document injuries, and communicate with medical personnel.
Certification and Licensure
State licensing requirements are often fulfilled by passing the certification exam administered by the Board of Certification. The exam covers clinical evaluation and diagnosis; treatment and rehabilitation; and emergency care.
Although voluntary, a master’s degree in athletic training is especially helpful for trainers working at the collegiate level and seeking career advancement. Graduate degree programs commonly combine both laboratory experiences and clinical internships. They provide further study in exercise and sports medicine, exercise physiology, and advanced athletic training.