How to Become an Athletic Trainer?

Are you thinking of becoming an Athletic Trainer or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Athletic Trainer, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Athletic Trainer job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become an Athletic Trainer

Before pursuing a career as an athletic trainer, it's important to understand what the role entails. While formal training is necessary, athletic trainers have skills that you can't learn in a classroom. Successful athletic trainers excel at motivating others, being dependable, and understanding what their clients need. Many clients seek an athletic trainer to help them make physical improvements or recover from injuries, so empathy is vital. If you enjoy helping others and are goal-oriented, this may be a good job for you. In this article, we provide five steps for becoming an athletic trainer.

Pursue an athletic training degree.

If you want to work as a licensed athletic trainer, you'll first have to earn a bachelor's degree in athletic training. When choosing a program, make sure it has an accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). An accredited program proves to license boards and employers that you've undergone rigorous training that meets professional standards. You can expect program coursework to include anatomy, physiology, and nutrition. You'll also participate in hands-on clinical education.

While pursuing a master's degree isn't necessary for entry-level employment, earning one can expand your career opportunities, especially if you want to work with a collegiate or professional athletic team.

What type of degree should you pursue to become an Athletic Trainer?

100% of people working as an Athletic Trainer earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be an Athletic Trainer?

  • CPR Certified
  • Excellent Communication
  • CPR First Aid
  • Releases
  • Powerpoint
  • Computer Literacy
  • Public Speaking
  • Microsoft Office
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as an Athletic Trainer in the United States.

Apply for athletic training internships.

As you complete your degree, consider applying for an athletic training internship. Interns are typically responsible for setting up equipment, cleaning equipment, and distributing supplements after a training session. They also assist senior trainers with evaluating and monitoring a client's performance. An internship will give you practical experience and help you expand your professional network. Plus, it can turn into a permanent position, and it looks good on your resume.


Pass the BOC exam.

After earning your degree, you can sit for the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC) exam. The exam consists of 175 questions and covers subjects like injury diagnosis, emergency care, and rehabilitation. Scores for the exam are tabulated on a scale from 200 to 800, with 500 being the minimum passing score. After passing the exam, you'll need to complete 25 continuing education units every two years to maintain your certification.


Apply for athletic trainer jobs.

As soon as you receive your BOC certification, you can start applying for athletic trainer jobs. While you might dream of working for a university or professional sports team, you'll need some experience before landing such a high-profile position. Hospitals, fitness centers, and recreational centers are all places where you can hone your professional skills and acclimate to working with clients.


Join a professional organization.

Athletic training is an ever-evolving field, so it's vital to keep up with the latest developments. Joining a professional organization like the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) will give you access to essential educational materials. Plus, you can attend workshops and other events where you can expand your knowledge and your professional network.

Athletic Trainer Career Path

Athletic Trainer

0 - 1Years of Experience
$50K - $79K /yrMost Likely Range
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Athletic Trainer IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
$48K - $73K /yrMost Likely Range
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Assistant Director of Athletic Training

5 - 7Years of Experience
$50K - $86K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Athletic Trainer Career Path

Athletic Trainer I
Athletic Trainer
Athletic Trainer IV
Assistant Director of Athletic Training
Associate Director of Athletic Training
Director of Athletic Training
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Related Careers in the Skilled Labor & Manufacturing Industry

Interested in other Skilled Labor & Manufacturing careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Athletic Trainer skills. Discover some of the most common Athletic Trainer career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Exercise Physiologist
13% skills overlap
17% transitioned to Exercise Physiologist