Have you ever wondered about the credentials of the person rehabbing your strained hamstring? On the other hand, maybe you’ve been curious about what regulatory oversight there is for the medical professional on the sports field with your high school athlete. What are the athletic training education requirements, and how does one become an athletic trainer, anyway?
Athletic Training Education Basics
The goal is to create highly skilled and knowledgeable allied health care professionals. To achieve this, athletic training education requires at least a bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited program. This accreditation ensures that all athletic trainers meet the same minimum competencies required for their job. However, most athletic trainers have exceeded this minimum education requirement. In fact, nearly 70% of all athletic trainers have their master’s degree, as well.
The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) oversees the core skills in which each athletic trainer must demonstrate proficiency. CAATE also performs regular audits of accredited programs to guarantee compliance. In addition to learning the required skills, athletic training students must pass a national exam through a separate organization, the Board of Certification (BOC).
Athletic Training Education New Requirements
As of 2015, the National Athletic Trainers Association, CAATE, and the BOC, jointly agreed that a master’s degree is the new minimum level of education. CAATE accredited programs have until 2022 to comply with this new degree requirement. Of course, an exception is in place for the 30% of athletic trainers currently practicing without a master’s level education. They will continue to work under the pre-2015 requirements.
In addition to the national exam, the BOC is also responsible for ensuring that all athletic trainers complete at least 50 credit hours of continuing education every two years. This continuing education requirement ensures that athletic trainers remain current in their ability to recognize and treat injuries.
State of Oregon Oversight
Individual states also have requirements of athletic trainers. For example, in Oregon, all athletic trainers must register with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). In addition, they must sign an affidavit verifying that they have kept up with continuing education requirements. The OHA may audit athletic trainers, and request that they provide records of compliance with BOC requirements.
As you can see, athletic trainers are subject to many layers of education and oversight. They must complete a rigorous course load, pass a national exam, register with the state, provide proof of compliance with agency requirements, and complete 50 credit hours of continuing education every two years. The result is a professional, knowledgeable, and competent athletic trainer caring for you or your young athlete when you need them most.
Please visit www.nata.org if you would like to learn more about athletic trainer educational requirements, CAATE, and the BOC.
Written by: Michael Estes, MS, ATC athletic trainer for The Center Foundation and Crook County High School in Prineville, OR. Learn more about Michael HERE.
The Center Foundation places dedicated athletic trainers in local high schools to provide sports medicine services to young athletes at no charge to the students or their families. Learn more about our work HERE.