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Careers in Athletic Training
Athletic trainers (ATs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment, diagnosis and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. As part of a complete health care team, the athletic trainer works under the direction a licensed physician and in cooperation with other health care professionals.
More than 70 percent of practicing athletic trainers hold a master’s degree and the number of athletic training jobs is predicted to increase by 30 percent by 2020.
Athletic trainers can be found almost anywhere people are physically active. Whether it is on the playing field or in an industrial work setting, athletic trainers are in place to help active people prevent injuries and stay healthy. Here are some of the places you will find them:
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Public and private secondary schools offer abundant job opportunities for ATs. Parents and administrators are discovering the benefits an AT can offer in preventing and caring for injuries. Many ATs teach classes at the high school level.
Athletic training jobs in colleges and universities generally fall into two categories: athletic department staff assignment and combination teacher/athletic trainer.
Although teams operate only a few months per year, ATs work year-round conditioning and rehabilitating athletes. Fewer jobs are available in this practice setting due to the limited number of teams.
This growing setting provides ATs the opportunity to work with a number of different health care professionals and a diverse patient population. In addition to athletic injury rehabilitation, many clinics provide athletic training services for secondary schools via outreach programs.
The U.S. military is increasing its use of athletic trainers. ATs can be found as part of the health care team for active-duty injured service people, on- and off-base fitness and wellness centers, new-recruit readiness programs and pre-enlistment readiness programs, in addition to established military school sports teams.
These settings use both outreach clinics and full-time AT employees to deliver services. Athletic trainers are a key component to the heath care team, and work with physicians and other allied health personnel. As well, ATs are first-responder medical personnel who are experts in injury assessment and treatment, particularly in the orthopaedic and musculoskeletal disciplines.
Athletic trainers must have at a minimum a bachelor's degree, usually in athletic training. More than 70 percent of athletic trainers hold an advanced degree such as a master's degree. ATs also participate in extensive clinical affiliations with physicians’ offices, hospitals, rehabilitation clinics and athletic teams under appropriate supervision.
Accredited undergraduate education programs include formal instruction in a variety of areas, including: injury/illness prevention, first aid and emergency care, assessment of injury/illness, human anatomy and physiology, therapeutic modalities and nutrition.
Athletic trainers have fulfilled the entry-level requirements for certification established by the Board of Certification. The certification examination consists of:
- A written part with multiple choice questions
- A practical section that evaluates the skill components of the domains within athletic training
- A written simulation test, consisting of athletic training related situations designed to approximate real-life decision making
In addition to the exam, ATs must maintain continuing education, and meet individual state regulatory or licensure requirements in most states. To determine if these added requirements apply, ATs must check their state practice act.
National Athletic Trainers' Association
The National Athletic Trainers' Association, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, was founded in 1950. Today, the NATA membership spans the globe and includes 30,000 members.
The mission of the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) is to enhance the quality of health care for athletes and those engaged in physical activity and to advance the profession of athletic training through education and research in prevention, evaluation, management and rehabilitation of injuries.