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   Athletic trainer

An athletic trainer is an allied health care provider capable of performing immediate and emergency injury management, injury assessment, and rehabilitation. Athletic trainers work closely with other members of the allied health team including physicians, physician's assistants, physical therapists, and others.

Most athletic trainers are employed in athletic settings including middle school, high school, college/university, professional, and recreational sports. However, with the emergence of the athletic trainer as a respected member of the allied health community, many more find work in clinical, industrial, and hospital settings as well.

   Scope of Practice

Although each state sets its own scope for practicing as an athletic trainer, standardized education ensures the athletic trainer has knowledge in several areas:

  • Injury prevention and risk management through developing training and conditioning programs, ensuring a safe playing environment, selecting, fitting, and maintaining protective equipment, explaining the importance of nutrition and using medications appropriately.

  • Recognition, evaluation, and assessment of injuries through conducting physical examinations, understanding the pathology of injury and illness, referring to medical care and support services. Immediate care of injury and illness.

  • Treatment, rehabilitation, and reconditioning through design of rehabilitation programs, supervising rehabilitation programs, incorporating therapeutic modalities, and offering psychosocial intervention.

  • Organization and administration through record keeping, ordering equipment and supplies, supervising personnel, and establishing policies for operation of an athletic training program. And finally professional development and responsibilities through acting as an educator and counselor.


Athletic trainers, as we know them today, came into existence in the late 19th century with the development and organization of interscholastic athletics. These individuals did not have any formal medical training and were available primarily for "rub-downs" and other home remedies.

Throughout the years the demand for athletic trainers has increased dramatically. In 1950, athletic trainers met in Kansas City, Missouri and officially formed an organization to establish professional standards called the National Athletic Trainer's Association (NATA). The NATA has grown to include over 25,000 members.

Perhaps the most significant impact on the profession of athletic training came in 1990 when the American Medical Association (AMA) decided to include athletic trainers as fellow allied health care professionals.


The standards of athletic training education have changed much since AMA recognition in 1990. Currently the minimum qualifications for becoming a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) are a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college/university and successful passing of a comprehensive examination. In order to maintain certification, an athletic trainer must accumulate 80 hours of continuing education every 3 years.

Nearly half of all NATA members also possess some form of post-Bachelor's education whether it be Master's, Doctorate, or additional education in another allied health field.

Since January 1, 2004 it is required for all those taking the national certification examination to graduate from an accredited college/university with a specialized accredited program in Athletic Training Education. This change was required in order to ensure that basic minimum standards in the domains of athletic training were met before taking the exam.

Accreditation of Athletic Training Education Programs is decided by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Athletic Training and reports to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.


As stated, one must successfully pass a comprehensive examination and possess a Bachelor's degree before receiving the credential of Certified Athletic Trainer or A.T.C. In addition, most states require a state license before practicing. Most states recognize passing the certification examination as evidence of meeting minimum standards for that state, however, the state of Texas requires its own examination before issuing a license.