Athletic Training Education
Athletic training is an academic major or graduate equivalent major program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). The current minimum entry point into the profession of athletic training is the baccalaureate level, however it was recently decided by the AT Strategic Alliance that the minimum professional degree level will be a master's, a change to be implemented within the next several years. More than 70 percent of athletic trainers hold at least a master’s degree. Upon completion of a CAATE-accredited athletic training education program, students become eligible for national certification by successfully completing the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC) examination.
Professional training education uses a competency-based approach in both the classroom and clinical settings. Using a medical-based education model, athletic training students are educated to provide comprehensive patient care in five domains of clinical practice: prevention; clinical evaluation and diagnosis; immediate and emergency care; treatment and rehabilitation; and organization and professional health and well-being. The educational requirements for CAATE-accredited athletic training education programs include acquisition of knowledge, skills and clinical abilities along with a broad scope of foundational behaviors of professional practice. Students complete an extensive clinical learning requirement that is embodied in the clinical integration proficiencies (professional, practice oriented outcomes) as identified in the Athletic Training Education Competencies (PDF).
Students must receive formal instruction in the following specific subject matter areas identified in the Competencies:
- Evidence-based practice
- Prevention and health promotion
- Clinical examination and diagnosis
- Acute care of injury and illness
- Therapeutic interventions
- Psychosocial strategies and referral
- Health care administration
- Professional development and responsibility
Per the Board of Certification
Continuing education requirements are intended to promote continued competence, development of current knowlege and skills and enhancement of professional skills and judgement. These activities must focus on increasing knowledge, skills and abilities related to the practice of athletic training.
As information continually changes, it is important for professionals to learn the latest about athletic training. Continuing education requirements are meant to ensure ATs continue to:
- Stay on the cutting edge in the field of athletic training.
- Obtain current professional development information.
- Explore new knowledge in specific content areas.
- Master new athletic training-related skills and techniques.
- Expand approaches to effective athletic training.
- Further develop professional judgment.
- Conduct professional practice in an ethical and appropriate manner.
NATA provides athletic trainers with a range of continuing education opportunities through workshops, webinars, home study courses and the Clinical Symposia & AT Expo.
Doctoral education is important to the profession, especially for athletic training educators. NATA nor the Executive Committee for Education and its committees accredit or endorse specific doctoral education programs for athletic trainers. The following information is provided to assist those who are interested in doctoral education for athletic trainers.
There are several opportunities for athletic trainers when embarking on a doctorate. While there are few universities that grant a doctorate in athletic training, there are several universities that provide research infrastructure, educational opportunities, mentorship and financial compensation to athletic trainers. The list found below is intended to aid athletic training professionals by providing contact information related to the doctoral educational opportunities for athletic trainers wishing to pursue a career in the academy.
Preparing for a career in higher education (commonly referred to as "the academy") requires careful preparation to decide which program is right for you. Establishing clear goals for your scholarly research agenda is important as you investigate academic programs. There are several resources available as you investigate a doctoral education. Graduate education prepares the scientists and engineers needed by industry, government and universities to conduct the nation's research and development; educates the scholars in the humanities, social sciences and the arts who preserve and enlarge our understanding of human thought and the human condition; and develops the scholars in all disciplines who become the faculties of the nation's colleges and universities. Several useful links to assist you in the pursuit of a career in academia are listed at the bottom of this page.
NATA nor its committees (Executive Committee for Education and Post-Professional Education Committee) endorse the links below. All information is provided by the institution and is listed here for convenience of those looking to pursue a doctoral degree. The NATA Executive Committee for Education reserves the right to remove information at its discretion.
See our list of athletic training doctoral programs.
Find general information and components of earning a doctorate degree (pdf).
Post-Professional Residency Programs
The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredits post-professional degree and residency programs. More information is available from CAATE.