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About Athletic Trainers


Athletic trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians in prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses.


The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is the professional membership association for certified athletic trainers and others who support the athletic training profession. Founded in 1950, the NATA has grown to more than 37,000 members worldwide today. The majority of certified athletic trainers choose to be members of the NATA – to support their profession, and to receive a broad array of membership benefits. By joining forces as a group, NATA members can accomplish more for the athletic training profession than they can individually.

  • Athletic trainers are licensed or otherwise regulated in 49 states; efforts continue to add licensure in California.
  • NATA has ongoing efforts to update obsolete state practice acts that do not reflect current qualifications and practice of ATs under health care reform.
  • Athletic trainers practice under the direction of physicians.
  • 47 states require ATs to hold the Board of Certification credential of “Athletic Trainer, Certified” (ATC).

Academic curriculum and clinical training for athletic training students follows the medical model. Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program; over 70 percent of ATs have a master’s degree.

  • ATs provide medical services and an unparalleled continuum of care to all types of patients, not just athletes participating in sports.
  • Athletic trainers are the most qualified professional to provide daily care for student athletes; they are also the most capable person to organize and direct an athletic health care system for a secondary school. Relying on coaches, administrators or volunteers to provide these types of services puts the athlete, school and its employees at risk.
  • ATs are in demand for their knowledge and skills in prevention and rehabilitation, as well as their proven cost savings, clinical efficiencies and positive return on investment.
  • Many athletic trainers work outside of athletic settings; they provide physical medicine and rehabilitation, as well as other services to people of all ages.
  • ATs commonly work with patients with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other health conditions to safely improve their health and fitness.
  • ATs specialize in patient education to prevent injury and re-injury, which reduces rehabilitative and other health care costs. 

ATs are trained to treat, prevent and address health issues (such as nutrition, brain injury and cardiac events) that impact athletes’ performance. NATA supports efforts by the health care team, school administration, coaches and parents to implement suggested safety protocols to keep athletes safe.

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