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Department of Kinesiology

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About Athletic Training

Per the National Athletic Trainers' Association

"Athletic Trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers work under the direction of a physician as prescribed by state licensure statutes.

Athletic trainers are sometimes confused with personal trainers. There is, however, a large difference in the education, skill set, job duties and patients of an athletic trainer and a personal trainer. The athletic training academic curriculum and clinical training follows the medical model. Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program, and 70% of ATs have a master’s degree. Learn more about the education of athletic trainers.

The Guide to Athletic Training Services (pdf) describes the qualifications of athletic trainers and the clinical tasks they routinely perform in the delivery of quality healthcare.

If you are a current high school student and interested in athletic training, you can learn more about the profession by reading the Becoming an AT (pdf),  Profile of Athletic Trainers(pdf) and Who is Taking Care of Your Athletes? (pdf) infographics.

Typical patients and clients served by athletic trainers include:

  • Recreational, amateur, and professional athletes
  • Individuals who have suffered musculoskeletal injuries
  • Those seeking strength, conditioning, fitness, and performance enhancement
  • Others delegated by the physician

Some places athletic training services are provided include:

  • Athletic training facilities
  • Schools (K-12, colleges, universities)
  • Amateur, professional and Olympic sports venues
  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Physician offices
  • Community facilities
  • Workplaces (commercial and government)"

(, 11/1/17)

Athletic Trainers vs Personal Trainer

Athletic training is not the same profession as personal training. Although ATs have traditionally worked in athletic settings, today ATs are often employed in a variety of settings including many non-athletic settings. Students must complete an accredited professional athletic training program and pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification (BOC) to become a certified athletic trainer. Once certified, they must meet ongoing continuing education requirements in order to remain certified.

Athletic Trainers vs Personal Trainer
Athletic Trainer Personal Trainer
An athletic trainer is an expert at recognizing, treating and preventing musculoskeletal injuries. ATs meet qualifications set by the Board of Certification, Inc., and adhere to the requirements of a state licensing board. ATs practice under the direction of a physician and are members of a health care profession recognized by the American Medical Association. A personal trainer develops, monitors and changes an individual's specific exercise program in a fitness or sports setting. Some personal trainers also make nutrition recommendations. Personal trainers can earn credentials through a number of agencies and can work as fitness trainers without formal instruction or certification.
  • Must obtain, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in Athletic Training
  • Must pass a comprehensive exam to earn the credential
  • Must keep their knowledge and skills current by participating in continuing education
  • Must adhere to standards of professional practice set by one national certifying agency and to a national code of ethics
  • May or may not have higher education in health sciences
  • May or may not be required to obtain certification or state licensing
  • May or may not participate in continuing education
  • May become certified by any one of numerous organizations that set varying education and practice requirements
Daily Duties:
  • Provide physical medicine and rehabilitation services
  • Prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate injuries (acute and chronic)
  • Coordinate care with physicians and other healthcare professionals
  • Work in schools, colleges, professional sports, clinics, hospitals, corporations, industry, military, performing arts
Daily Duties:
  • Assess fitness needs and design appropriate exercise regimens
  • Work with clients to achieve fitness goals
  • Help educate the public on the importance of physical activity
  • Work in health clubs, wellness centers and other locations where fitness activities take place