1. Who are Certified Athletic Trainers, exactly?

Certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs) work with physicians to educate patients to help prevent and care for injuries and medical conditions. Certified Athletic Trainers are responsible for emergency care and diagnosis, as well as therapy and rehabilitation over time. Highly respected for their active, multi-skilled approach to health care, Certified Athletic Trainers must earn a degree from an accredited Athletic Training program, which typically pairs classroom time with clinical experience. More than 70 percent of Certified Athletic Trainers have a master’s degree.

Certified Athletic Trainers treat patients across the spectrum, from athletes to military personnel. And Certified Athletic Trainers are not confined to the hospital—their work can take them from manufacturing plants to team headquarters, rural clinics to urban university hospitals.

2. Why become an Athletic Trainer?

The demand for Certified Athletic Trainers is high, and growing steadily. Roles of the Athletic Trainer are varied, depending on the position, but could include wellness and occupational therapy, rehabilitation specialization, and more—there are enough possibilities to suit any trainer’s strengths and preferences.

Certified Athletic Trainers are widely known for their strong patient outcomes, both functionally and physically. Hospitals, professional sports teams, schools, and employers of all kinds depend on the abilities of Certified Athletic Trainers. An Athletic Trainer might specialize in helping the obese, diabetic, and asthmatic, or he/she might aid in strengthening the abilities of a professional baseball team. Whatever the sector, the career of an Athletic Trainer promises to be dynamic, active, and fulfilling.

3. What does an Athletic Training curriculum include?

Program offerings vary across the board, but all include formal instruction with certified Certified Athletic Trainers in prevention, first aid, emergency care, injury assessment, and human anatomy. In addition, programs provide both instruction and clinical practice focusing on therapeutic modalities, new technologies, and nutrition.

4. What’s the difference between Athletic Training and Personal Training?

Though they’re sometimes lumped together, a Certified Athletic Trainer and a personal trainer do very different types of work—and hold very different levels of training. While personal trainers may create and monitor exercise programs, only Certified Athletic Trainers meet specific and stringent regulations. As a result, while personal trainers evaluate exercise routines, Certified Athletic Trainers may prescribe medications, coordinate care with physicians, and work in corporate, military, and academic environments.

Furthermore, all Certified Athletic Trainers must hold a bachelor’s degree, pass a comprehensive licensure exam, and meet annual professional development requirements. None of this is required of personal trainers.

5. How large is NATA?

Certified Athletic Trainers are recognized in 47 states. As the profession has evolved, it has become critical that regulation becomes more standardized and is effective in all jurisdictions. NATA boasts a membership of over 39,000 members in America and around the globe. There are estimated to be around 40,000 Certified Athletic Trainers practicing in the U.S. today. In addition, NATA members include students representing over 320 accredited collegiate academic programs.

To support the needs of its vast membership, the NATA national office employs over 40 full-time staff members.

6. What are the membership requirements to join NATA as a certified Athletic Trainer?

Prospective NATA members must earn at least a Bachelor’s degree from a college or university with an accredited athletic training program, which will combine academic work with clinical training. Then, all potential Certified Athletic Trainers must pass the exam administered by the Board of Certification.

Once certified, Certified Athletic Trainers must remain up to date by fulfilling continuing education requirements. Certified Athletic Trainers are mandated to practice under the direction of a physician and within their state practice act.

Remember: NATA membership is invaluable whether you’re a potential or current Athletic Trainer. NATA’s mission is to enhance the quality of health care provided by certified Certified Athletic Trainers and to advance the athletic training profession.

7. The NATA Board of Directors plans to transition accreditation services for post-professional athletic training graduate degree programs from the NATA to the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). What does this mean?

Effective July 1, 2012, the NATA Executive Committee for Education (ECE) and the Commission on the Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) agreed to transition accreditation services from the NATA to the CAATE. Now, all accreditation services for athletic training education programs are unified under the auspices of the CAATE.

CAATE is recognized as an expert in providing accreditation services. This move to bring all services under one roof, so to speak, will boost efficiency in the accreditation processes for all aspects of education in Athletic Training. CAATE boasts strong standards and consistent recognition of compliance across the board.

8. What resources are available to NATA-affiliated Certified Athletic Trainers?

The Training Education Journal is an electronic interface for scholars, educators, and practitioners, and is free for NATA members to read, download, and print.

The Journal of Athletic Training, NATA’s award-winning scientific publication, keeps members apprised of professional research.

Member Monthly, NATA’s monthly e-newsletter, discusses news and politics relevant to Certified Athletic Trainers, and examines new products and services, upcoming events, and new publications.

The NATA News is published 11 times a year, and is distributed in-print and online to all members.

Range of Motion, NATA’s weekly e-zine, brings stories spanning the healthcare industry to NATA members everywhere.

Finally, position and consensus statements—research-based, peer-reviewed, timely scientific statements—are available to all members anytime. These resources are archived online and may be accessed electronically.

9. What if I don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree, but am interested in becoming a NATA-certified Athletic Trainer?

Remember: prospective NATA members must earn at least a bachelor’s degree from a college or university with an accredited athletic training program. To find a list of schools with entry-level Athletic Training Programs, go to and search programs. You can narrow your search down by state or by university, but make sure you’re searching for a progression program that offers a Bachelor’s Degree.

Today there exist over 360 schools to choose from.

10. What if I already have my bachelor’s degree, but it’s in something other than Athletic Training?

You can either earn a second bachelor’s, or you can get a master’s degree in athletic training from an accredited institution. You can search for programs by visiting


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