Gear Up 

The BUZZ Magazine

Sports Medicine Moment: National Athletic Trainer’s Month – How to Become an Athletic Trainer

Tags: , , ,

Sports Medicine Moment: How to become an Athletic Trainer

Written by Tristen Robinson

Tristen Robinson, M.S., ATC, LAT is a BUZZ Gear Up Blogger and an instructor at Andrew Jackson High School, for the sports medicine magnet program. Checkout the program’s Facebook page at Andrew Jackson High School Sports Medicine.


One of the appealing things to me about athletic training is the array of knowledge that is instilled; to prepare you for the wide range of medical cases you will be approached with. That is why it is important to understand the educational training that goes into becoming an Athletic Trainer.

Most of the public understands at a minimum, an Athletic Trainer should know BLS or basic life support skills; this includes first aid, CPR, and AED use. However, that is just a small portion of the educational training an Athletic Trainer knows. To become an Athletic Trainer, and individual must graduate from an accredited athletic training education program (ATEP). In this program, you concentrate on exercise science, kinesiology, human anatomy, human physiology, musculoskeletal injuries, therapeutic modalities, sports psychology, rehabilitation principles and techniques both in the classroom and in different athletic/clinical settings. As it currently sits, the program can be undergraduate or graduate based. In the near future, the athletic training profession will no longer be entry level bachelors; it will become entry level masters (meaning in order to enter the profession you will have to have a master’s degree). This is great for the profession and the public as a whole because it means that if treated by an Athletic Trainer, you would be treated by someone with an advanced study of what they are treating you for.

Upon completion of the ATEP, you will then sit for the board of certification (BOC) exam. You are not certified to practice as an Athletic Trainer until you have passed that exam; even if you have already graduated from the ATEP. Texas is the only state that will allow you to practice without that national certification. Conversely, you will have to pass their state exam, which is only allows you to practice in Texas. After you have passed (yaaaaaay!!!) you earn three letters behind your name ATC (Athletic Trainer Certified). Some people go on to earn other letters behind their name, but that is not needed in order to practice Athletic Training.

There are some states that want you to go an extra step to practice athletic training. For those states, they require not just the ATC letters behind your name, but that you are licensed to practice in their state. Licensure means you satisfy certain criteria, other than what is nationally required, to practice. Each state has their own standards and criteria to follow. I will provide a link that can show you what each state requires. Once you have become licensed, the “state” is your oyster and you may begin helping the public under the ATC tag. Just like many healthcare professions, continuing education units (CEU’s) are needed to maintain your certification; 50 every two years. To learn more about athletic training education and Athletic Trainers, please visit:


This has been your sports medicine moment…