Becoming an Athletic Trainer

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.

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. To search for institutions with programs to prepare graduates to become athletic trainers, search for Professional Programs.    Degrees in physical therapy, exercise science, strength and conditioning or others DO NOT qualify the candidate to sit for the BOC examination.

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Professional Programs lead to eligibility to sit for the Board of Certification examination and to enter the profession of athletic training. Professional Programs are available at both the baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate degree levels

If you are already a licensed/certified athletic trainer and looking for more education, you will need to look for Post-Professional Degree Programs or Post Professional Residency Program.

Post-Professional Degree Programs lead to a degree (masters or doctorate) for learners that are already credentialed as athletic trainers and expand the depth and breadth of the applied, experiential, and propositional knowledge and skills of athletic trainers through didactic, clinical, and research experiences.  These programs DO NOT qualify the learner to sit for the BOC exam.

Post-Professional Residency Programs are formal educational programs that offer structured curricula, including didactic and clinical components, to educate Athletic Trainers. They are designed to build upon and expand the Athletic Trainer’s knowledge and experience acquired during professional (entry-level) education.

Search for accredited Athletic Training Programs. 

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 traini

  • 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.  Click here to see a listing of all Professional Program 3-year BOC Pass Rate Results
    • 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 pass rate across all programs


% First Time Pass Rate

Overall pass rate










Please note:  these data are based on graduating cohorts across all accredited athletic training programs.


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?