Students and Public

What is an Athletic Trainer?

Athletic Trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

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Click here to find out more about the profession of Athletic Training.

How do I qualify to become an Athletic Trainer?

To become an athletic trainer, candidates must graduate with a degree in Athletic Training from an accredited athletic training program and successfully pass the Board of Certification (BOC) Exam.    To practice as an athletic trainer in most states, the individual must also be credentialed within the state.

Search for accredited Athletic Training Programs. 

See individual program outcomes on the Board of Certification exam

What factors I should take into consideration when choosing an Athletic Training Program?

There are many factors that students (and parents) should consider when choosing a college or university for a degree in Athletic Training.  Listed below are a few questions that prospective students and their parents should ask when trying to choose a college/university to study athletic training.

  • Is the program accredited?  Program MUST be accredited for graduates to sit for the BOC exam
  • How successful are the program’s graduates on the BOC examination?  Graduates of Athletic Training Professional Programs are eligible to sit for the Board of Certification (BOC) examination that serves as the credentialing examination for the profession.   Each program MUST publish student outcomes data on their website. This includes:
    • The number of students graduating from the program who took the examination, number and percentage of students who passed the examination on the first attempt, and overall number and percentage of students who passed the examination regardless of the number of attempts.
    • Programs that do not meet or exceed a three year aggregate of 70 percent first-time pass rate on the BOC examination are in non-compliance with CAATE Standard 11.
    • Although graduate’s success on the BOC exam is just one indicator of the program’s outcomes, passing the examination is a requirement to enter the profession so should be a consideration when a prospective student is choosing a program.

BOC Exam – Aggregate Pass Rate Across All Programs

 Pass Rates for BOC Certification Examination, 2010-2011 to
2012-2013 by Cohort.

Graduating Class

% First Time Pass Rate

Overall pass rate

2011

80.47%

94.34%

2012

81.35%

92.05%

2013

84.19%

90.75%

Please note that the pass rate when calculated by cohort may be different than the pass rate reported by the BOC as their report is based on their examination year and not on the cohorts by academic year.  In the spring of each year, the BOC publishes its annual exam report on its website. The full report for each exam year (1996-2013) can be found on the BOC website at www.bocatc.org/resources/exam-reports

To see a specific programs first time and overall pass rate on the Board of Certification examination, click here.

Other factors in choosing a Professional Program in Athletic Training

  • In what college/department is the program located?   Is the program housed with other health care professions?  A big part of learning to be a health care professional is interacting with other health care professionals and students.
  • What is the size and experience of the program faculty?
  • What is the placement rate of the program’s graduates?  Do graduates find jobs in athletic training? 
  • Does the program offer a variety of clinical placements with athletic and non-athletic populations?

Information on Degree Mills

Be sure the institution you are interested in attending is accredited.   Information on Degree and Accreditation Mills may be found through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)    http://www.chea.org/

FAQs for Students and the Public


  • No, they do not have a CAATE accredited program. See a complete list of accredited programs here.


  • The undergraduate degree may have provided the student with many of the pre-requisites required to enter a post-baccalaureate professional program in AT, however programs have varying admission criteria, so the individual institution should be contacted for specific information. A degree in "sports medicine" does NOT allow the graduate to sit for the BOC exam, call themselves and athletic trainer or perform the duties of an athletic trainer.


  • No, a specific degree is not required, however, most post baccalaureate professional programs in AT require a significant number of science pre-requisites. Typically the science requirements at a minimum are chemistry, physics, anatomy, and physiology. Many programs require more than one semester of each of the sciences.


  • You would need a degree in Athletic Training from an accredited program. Currently Professional AT degrees are available at both the bachelors and masters level so since you already have a masters, you could apply for admission to a Professional AT program at the Masters degree level. You may search for programs by Type and Degree at


  • You need to graduate with a degree in athletic training to be eligible for certification as an athletic trainer. Some of the courses that you took for your PTA certification may transfer to some programs as pre-requisites for admission, but that would be up to the individual program on what (if any) courses they would accept.


  • The Standards for Accreditation of Professional Athletic Training Programs do not specifically place a minimum or maximum number of clinical education hours. The Standards do however, require that programs establish a minimum and maximum hours policy for their students, and must abide by that policy. In addition all clinical education must be contained in individual courses with course credit consistent with institutional policy. Several Standards that focus on student clinical education are listed below.
    55. All clinical education must be contained in individual courses that are completed over a minimum of two academic years. Clinical education may begin prior to or extend beyond the institution’s academic calendar. 56. Course credit must be consistent with institutional policy or institutional practice. 57. All clinical education experiences must be educational in nature. The program must have a written policy that delineates a minimum and maximum requirement for clinical hours. 58. Students must have a minimum of one day off in every seven-day period. 59. Students will not receive any monetary remuneration during this education experience, excluding scholarships. 60. Students will not replace professional athletic training staff or medical personnel.


  • Each state has its own requirements for credentialing. Typically there is an application that requires verification of degree and certification, You can find a link to each of the states regulatory boards through the Board of Certification website at http://www.bocatc.org


  • This institution's athletic training program is not accredited, nor have they started the accreditation process with the CAATE. Students from this institution are not eligible to sit for the BOC exam.


  • You would need to fulfill all of the prerequisites to be eligible for admission to a Professional Program either at the baccalaureate or post-baclaurette level. The Post-Professional Programs are for persons who are already credentialed as athletic trainers.


  • It is really dependent on the institutional degree structure and how degrees are designated at that institution. For state schools, guidelines may exist for designation of the degree. Most professional degrees are designated by the degree and the profession (e.g..BSN [nursing], MSW [social work], etc) In athletic training the professional degree is often designated as a BSAT, BAT MSAT or MAT. This designation is often used as a credential after one's name. A BS in Athletic Training is often used when the degree is a BS and the major is Athletic Training. Either is acceptable for the professional degree in athletic training.


  • The CAATE accredits the institution, not the individual so in order to be eligible to sit for the Board of Certification examination for athletic trainers, a candidate must have a degree in Athletic Training (not kinesiology or other) and be a graduate of an accredited athletic training program.


  • You MUST graduate with a DEGREE in Athletic Training at either the baccalaureate or post-bacalaurette levels from an accredited program to be eligible to sit for the Board of Certification Examination for entrance into the profession of athletic training.


  • You can find a list of all accredited Post-Professional Degree and Residency programs in athletic training through the Search for Programs option on this website. Search for Type of Program =Post Professional, Degree = Masters. If you are interested in pursuing a Post-Professional Residency Program that provides education and training without a degree, search for Residency in the search function.

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