How Long Does Athletic Training School Take?

Athletic trainers, not to be confused with fitness trainers, are professionals who help athletes who may get injured during games or other sporting events. Before accidents happen, they help prevent these situations by coming up with programs that would avert injuries and illnesses among collegiate or professional athletes or other physically active groups of people that they are working with. Athletic trainers have traditionally been employed by athletic teams big and small and from amateur high school teams to famous professional sporting teams. Now they are also found in the military, in hospitals, sports clinics and other areas where people are engaged in sports and physical activity.

To be able to work as an athletic trainer, you would need to get a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. This usually takes four years to complete although there are accelerated programs where you are allowed to take summer courses and thus be able to finish the program earlier. Students are given formal instruction in first aid and emergency care, the prevention of injuries and illnesses, nutrition, how to assess injuries and illnesses, human anatomy and physiology and modes of treatment. The theoretical parts of the lessons are delivered in the classroom. Students are also given the chance to gain hands-on experience in clinical settings where they work with real patients.

In order to get Board of Certification (BOC) licensing as an athletic trainer from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), you will need to pass an exam. To maintain your certification, you will have to meet the recertification requirements of the BOC. These include complying with the BOC Standards of Professional Practice, maintaining at least Basic Life Support/Professional Rescuer level certification for Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC), paying annual certification maintenance fee and meeting the required continuing education units.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a different field and wish to work as an athletic trainer, you have two entry points. First, you can get a bachelor’s degree in athletic training or second, you can opt to get obtain an entry-level master’s degree in athletic training. According to NATA, there are less than 20 schools that have an accredited master’s program. This postgraduate program typically takes a couple of years to finish. Meanwhile, if you are already a certified athletic trainer and wish to beef up your professional qualifications in order to advance to management roles, you can get advanced master’s degree programs offered in about 12 schools. This takes about two years to complete.

Athletic training is a small occupation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that there were only 22,900 athletic trainers employed in 2012. This career is expected to experience a very positive growth rate in the next few years. The BLS has projected that from 2012 to 2022 the employment rate is expected to grow 21 percent. This translates to an increase of 4,900 athletic trainers for a total projected employment of 27,800 in 2022. The demand stems from the increased awareness of the detrimental effects that sports-related injuries like concussions have to young people. The emphasis now placed on game injury prevention and disease detection will also fuel demand for athletic trainers.

Career Spotlight: Athletic Trainer

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