How do I Become a Certified Athletic Trainer?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2018
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Choosing to become a certified athletic trainer opens up a number of career options. In most cases, the trainer works in a group environment and is associated with high schools, college teams, or professional sports clubs. However, a growing number of personal trainers and general fitness trainers are also seeking certification as athletic trainers. If a career in athletic training is something you want to pursue, here is what you will need to do in order to secure the proper credentials.

As with many careers, you must first obtain the required education credentials in order to become a certified athletic trainer. In most countries, this involves obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training or Physical Education. The degree must be earned from an accredited institution of higher learning in order to be recognized by the agencies that grant the certification. Before enrolling in any degree program, it is a good idea to confirm that your completed coursework will be accepted and allow you to apply for the certification.


With the basic coursework completed, the next step to become a certified athletic trainer is to begin the actual application process. There is a good chance that the institution that granted your degree can help you prepare and submit the application. Keep in mind that examinations in your area may only be held a few times each year. Making sure that your application is complete and accurate will help to prevent delays in taking the exam and allow you to move closer to your goal.

Upon the acceptance of your application and the scheduling of your examination date, you will most likely receive some guidelines from the agency that will conduct the exam and be responsible for issuing your certification. Take the time to review the guidelines thoroughly. You will find information about what to bring along for the exam, some idea of what to anticipate in terms of the structure of the examination, and an idea of how long you will have to complete all sections of the certification test. There is also a good chance the guidelines will include information about how long it takes to process the results and grant your certification, assuming you pass on your first attempt.

In the interim, you can keep busy with personal training work or obtain a job at a health club. Once you become a certified athletic trainer, it will be possible to decide what direction would be best for your exercise career and make plans to secure the right position. With your certification in hand, there will be several different career paths you can choose.

Keep in mind that in many jurisdictions, you do not become a certified athletic trainer for life. There is a good chance you will be required to take additional courses from time to time in order to keep your skills sharp. For example, you may be required to take and successfully complete a course in the latest CPR methods every few years in order to keep your certification. These periodic updates help to keep your knowledge up to date and in fact will enhance your credibility with prospective employers.



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