What is an Athletic Trainer

Who We Are, What We Do & Where We Work

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Seattle Seahawks Head Athletic Trainer Don Rich (middle) attends to RB Thomas Rawls

What is an AT?

Athletic Trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Students who want to become certified athletic trainers must earn a degree from an accredited athletic training curriculum. Accredited programs include formal instruction in areas such as injury/illness prevention, first aid and emergency care, assessment of injury/illness, human anatomy and physiology, therapeutic modalities, and nutrition. Classroom learning is enhanced through clinical education experiences.

To become certified athletic trainer, a student must graduate with bachelors or masters degree from an accredited professional athletic training education program and pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification. Once certified, they must meet ongoing continuing education requirements in order to remain certified. Athletic trainers must also work under the direction of a physician and within their state practice act.

More than 70 percent of certified athletic trainers hold at least a master’s degree.

What do Athletic Trainers do?

Athletic Training & Personal Training

Athletic training is often confused with personal training. There is, however, a large difference in the education, skill set, job duties and patients of an athletic trainer and a personal trainer. Athletic trainers provide physical medicine, rehabilitative and preventative services. Athletic trainers treat a breadth of patients, including but not limited to: professional, college, secondary school and youth athletes, dancers, musicians and military personnel. Athletic trainers can work in a variety of locations including schools, physician clinics, hospitals and manufacturing plants.
Athletic Trainers vs Personal Trainers

Setting-Specific Information

Looking for information specific to your job setting or career phase? Visit the NATA Professional Interests section.