“While their are a lot more hurdles to start a career as an athletic trainer, the rewards are greater and the work can be more interesting and rewarding.” (about
Career as Athletic Trainers
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is a non-profit organization that was initiated in 1950. With time, NATA has grown and accommodated as many as 30,000 athletic trainers across the globe. NATA was created with the sole purpose of contributing to the well-being and success of athletes worldwide; its diverse services include continuing education, public relations, as well as certification and governmental affairs.
NATA aims to help interested candidates pursue a successful career as athletic trainers. To materialize its vision, it has set forth a code of standards to be strictly followed by them.
NATA provides certification programs in athletic training that help students specialize in preventing, recognizing, managing and rehabilitating injuries arising from strenuous physical activity. An athlete’s health care team consists of several health care professionals including certified athletic trainers, licensed physicians, athletics administrators, coaches and parents.
Difference between Athletic Trainers and Personal Trainers
An important point is to note the distinction between an athletic trainer and a personal trainer. A personal trainer does not legally need to be certified; he/she may not even have acquired higher education in health sciences. Further, a personal trainer’s tasks entail working with clients in health clubs, fitness centers to help them attain their personal fitness goals. Personal trainers may also provide information about the significance of physical activity and design need-based exercise programs to their clients.
On the other hand, an athletic trainer is required to be certified in addition to having a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. They are required to adhere to the guidelines set by a national certifying agency. They work in schools, colleges, hospitals, corporations, industry, and professional sports. and their duties include provision of medicine and rehabilitation services, assessment and treatment of injuries, and coordination with physicians.
Students interested in a career as athletic trainers must have a degree from an accredited athletic training curriculum. This is the primary requirement of the athletic training certification specified by the Board of Certification. At least 70% of athletic trainers have earned a master’s degree as well. Their previous education should include areas like prevention of injuries and illness, assessment and evaluation of injury or illness, emergency care, athletic training program administration, nutrition, psychology, pharmacology and the like.
The NATA BOC Exam
After meeting the requirements laid by the Board of Certification, students have to pass a comprehensive three-part test which includes a written section with multiple choice questions; a practical section aimed at evaluating the skills required for athletic training; and a written simulation test which consists of real life situations and this helps to understand the thought processes as well as the decision making ability of the candidates. This is a very challenging test and I recommend that you check out some of the independent NATA exam study guides that are available.
Continuing Education Requirements
Once a candidate meets the requirements set by the Board of Certification and passes the certification exam, he/she is required to meet the continuing education requirements in order to carry on and maintain the “certified” label.
These further requirements include completing a certain number of continuing education units which consists of a recertification in CPR to be completed once every three years; strict compliance with the Board of Certification’s Standards of Professional Practice; and making payments of the Board of Certification’s annual maintenance fee and NATA’s annual dues. The relevance of these continuing education requirements is noteworthy. These help the certified athletic trainers to explore different areas of knowledge; to stay abreast with the changes and the developments in professional skills and techniques; to acquire expertise in athletic training skills; and to continue their profession in an ethical manner.
Pursuing a career as athletic trainers equips one with immense knowledge and the ability to maintain high professional standards in their practice. Their specialization in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation is well recognized among health professionals and others alike. Athletic trainers are well-qualified and they have a major contribution towards the success of athletes; their dedication and diligence helps athletes to pull themselves out of damage and injury. They constantly strive to learn the new and innovative techniques that will help them better their professional skill set as well as contribute to the athletes’ health and potential.
Health Care Career instead of Fitness Career
Taking on a career as an athletic trainer implies that one will have to dedicate his entire life to health care. Athletic trainers receive secondary as well as vocational education in the health sciences field. They have been known to contribute to the health and well-being of innumerable athletes.
The Board of Certification lists six fields or areas in which athletic trainers should be educated and skilled. These are:
ii. Recognition, Evaluation and Assessment
iii. Immediate Care
iv. Treatment, Rehabilitation and Reconditioning
v. Organization and Administration
vi. Professional Development
Students aspiring for a career as athletic trainers should be able to clearly understand and analyze the various concepts; as well as possess knowledge and decision-making abilities in addition to special performance talents.
To embark on a successful career as athletic trainers, it is extremely significant to achieve the Athletic Trainer Certification and consequently, broaden the horizon of achievement. This certification is approved by 44 states that have made it a mandatory requirement in order to proceed as athletic trainers. This fact demonstrates the quality of NATA’s certification program as well as its recognition in the health care field.