The requirements for becoming an athletic trainer include earning a bachelor's degree from an accredited athletic training program and successfully passing a Board of Certification exam. Athletic trainers must maintain their certification with continuing education and fees, and 70 percent of trainers also hold master's degrees.
The first step to becoming a certified athletic trainer is graduating from a degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. A student must earn a degree in athletic training, keeping in mind that physical therapy, exercise science and other related fields do not qualify. Although only a bachelor's degree is required, attaining a master's degree provides opportunities for collegiate-level work and career advancement.
Graduates of qualified programs must then pass the Board of Certification exam, which covers topics such as rehabilitation, emergency care, clinical diagnosis and injury prevention. Trainers may also need to pass state exams to practice in certain states, and CPR certification is required on a national level. Athletic trainers must then report approximately every two years to pay a certification fee and show compliance with the Board of Certification Standards of Professional Practice. They must maintain certification in areas such as adult and child CPR, emergency cardiac care and automated external defibrillator use.