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Top 11 Athletic Trainer Certifications

This article outlines the best certifications for athletic trainers, including their requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for an athletic trainer in the job market because they demonstrate a level of knowledge and skill that employers look for when hiring. Certifications provide proof of competency, and ensure that the athletic trainer is up to date on the latest trends and techniques. Having certifications also shows potential employers that the individual has a commitment to their profession and dedication to continuing education. Additionally, certifications often provide access to increased job opportunities, higher pay, and more professional recognition.

The purpose of this article is to review and explain how certifications for Athletic Trainers can contribute to their career development.

What are Athletic Trainer Certifications?

Athletic trainer certification is a process of becoming certified as an athletic trainer. It requires the completion of an accredited program, passing a national exam, and obtaining a state license. Becoming certified as an athletic trainer is important for both the safety of athletes and to ensure that they are receiving the best possible care.

Certified athletic trainers are held to high standards in terms of both knowledge and skill in order to provide the highest level of care possible. They must be knowledgeable in human anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation and emergency response protocols. Athletic trainers must also be able to assess injuries and provide preventative care in order to reduce the risk of injury or illness among athletes.

Having a certified athletic trainer on staff provides assurance that all athletes will receive quality medical attention as soon as possible when an injury occurs. Certified athletic trainers can also help athletes identify potential risks before they become serious issues and help them develop strategies for avoiding future injuries. This can help keep athletes healthy and performing at their best.

Overall, having a certified athletic trainer on staff can improve the overall safety and health of any sports team or organization by providing knowledgeable medical professionals that are dedicated to helping athletes stay safe and perform at their peak potential.

Pro Tip: Make sure to complete all required courses and exams for athletic trainer certification before applying for your license. This will help ensure you have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the field.

Related: What does an Athletic Trainer do?

Top 11 Athletic Trainer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Athletic Trainers today.

1. Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC)

A Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries related to physical activity. ATCs are certified by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC). To become an ATC, individuals must complete an accredited athletic training program and pass a comprehensive exam administered by the BOC. The length of time it takes to become an ATC varies depending on the individual's educational background and experience. Generally, it takes two years to complete an undergraduate degree in athletic training or three years if pursuing a master's degree.

In order to become certified as an ATC, individuals must first complete an accredited athletic training program and then take and pass the Board of Certification (BOC) exam. The BOC exam consists of both a written and practical component that tests knowledge in areas such as injury prevention, injury evaluation, therapeutic interventions, health care administration, and professional development.

The cost for taking the BOC exam varies depending on where you take it; however, it typically costs around $400-$500 USD. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with taking courses or obtaining certifications that are required for becoming an ATC.

2. Emergency Care and Safety Institute (ECSI)

The Emergency Care and Safety Institute (ECSI) is an international organization that provides emergency care and safety training for individuals, organizations, and businesses. ECSI offers a variety of courses designed to prepare people for medical emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, natural disasters, and other emergency situations.

ECSI courses are available online or in-person at approved locations around the world. The length of the course depends on the type of certification being sought. Generally speaking, most ECSI courses take between four to eight hours to complete.

To get an ECSI certification, you must first register with the organization and pay the appropriate fee. Fees vary depending on the type of certification being sought. For example, a basic CPR/AED certification costs $45 USD while a Wilderness First Aid Certification costs $150 USD.

Once registered and payment is received, you will be able to access your course materials online or attend an in-person session at an approved location near you. Upon successful completion of the course, you will receive your ECSI certification card which can be used as proof of training when needed.

3. National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification (NATA-BOC)

The National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification (NATA-BOC) is an independent, non-profit organization that provides certification for athletic trainers. It was established in 1969 and is the only nationally recognized certification program for athletic trainers. The purpose of the NATA-BOC is to ensure that all certified athletic trainers meet a high standard of quality and practice.

To become certified, applicants must first complete an accredited bachelor’s degree program in athletic training or a related field from an accredited college or university. After completing their degree, applicants must then pass the Board of Certification Examination (BOC exam). This exam covers topics such as injury prevention, recognition and evaluation of injuries, therapeutic interventions, and professional development.

The BOC exam typically takes about four hours to complete and consists of 200 multiple choice questions. The cost to take the exam is $195 for NATA members and $245 for non-members. Once applicants have successfully passed the exam, they will be awarded their Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) credential which is valid for five years. To maintain certification, ATCs must complete continuing education credits every two years in order to renew their credentials.

Overall, obtaining a NATA-BOC certification requires dedication and hard work but it can open up many doors in terms of career opportunities within the field of athletic training.

4. American Red Cross CPR/AED certification

American Red Cross CPR/AED certification is a program designed to teach individuals how to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest, choking, and other medical emergencies. It also teaches participants how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the event of sudden cardiac arrest.

The American Red Cross offers several levels of CPR/AED certification, including Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Heartsaver AED. The length of the course depends on which level you are taking, but most courses take about 4-6 hours to complete.

To get certified, you must attend an American Red Cross training class either online or in-person. Online classes provide step-by-step instructions and videos that demonstrate proper technique for responding to medical emergencies. In-person classes provide hands-on practice with mannequins and AEDs so that students can gain experience using the equipment in a real-life setting.

The cost of American Red Cross CPR/AED certification varies depending on which level you are taking and whether you take the class online or in person. Generally speaking, BLS certification costs around $50-$75; ACLS certification costs around $200-$250; PALS certification costs around $200-$300; and Heartsaver AED certification costs around $60-$90.

5. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is a professional fitness organization that provides certification programs, continuing education courses, and other resources to help fitness professionals advance their careers. ISSA was founded in 1988 and currently has more than 200,000 members in over 140 countries worldwide.

ISSA offers a variety of certifications for personal trainers, nutritionists, strength coaches, and other fitness professionals. Their most popular certification program is the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) program which takes approximately 8-12 weeks to complete. The CPT program includes an online course with video lectures, quizzes and exams as well as hands-on practical training sessions.

To become certified through ISSA you must meet certain requirements such as being 18 years or older, having a high school diploma or equivalent, and passing the CPT exam with a score of 80% or higher. You can register for the exam online at www.issaonline.com/exam/. The cost of the exam varies depending on your membership level but typically ranges from $199-$399 USD. Once you have passed the exam you will receive your CPT certification which is valid for two years before needing to be renewed.

Overall, the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is a great resource for those looking to get certified in personal training and related fields. With its comprehensive curriculum and wide range of certifications available it can help you take your career to the next level!

6. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the strength and conditioning profession worldwide. It was founded in 1978 and has since grown to become the leading organization for strength and conditioning professionals.

The NSCA offers various certifications, such as Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Special Populations Specialist (CSPS), Certified Youth Fitness Specialist (CYFS), Tactical Strength and Conditioning-Facilitator (TSAC-F) and Registered Strength Coach (RSC).

To get certified by the NSCA, individuals must first pass an exam. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions that test knowledge of exercise science, program design, equipment usage, safety/injury prevention, nutrition, biomechanics, sport psychology, anatomy/physiology, testing/evaluation and administration. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete.

In order to be eligible to take the exam, applicants must have a current CPR certification as well as a bachelor’s degree in an exercise science field or equivalent experience. Additionally, applicants must submit a $50 application fee along with their completed application form.

Once an individual passes the exam they will receive their certification from the NSCA which is valid for four years before it needs to be renewed. To renew their certification individuals must submit proof of continuing education credits or retake the exam.

7. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is an organization dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational, practical, and evidence-based applications of exercise science and sports medicine. ACSM is the world’s largest sports medicine and exercise science organization with over 50,000 members worldwide. It was founded in 1954 by Dr. Jack H. Wilmore and Dr. David L. Costill as a not-for-profit organization to promote the study of exercise science, physical activity, health promotion, injury prevention, and wellness through research, education, advocacy, and professional development.

It takes approximately 6 months to complete the certification process to become an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP). The first step is to apply for the exam by completing an application form online or by mail. Once approved for the exam you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to register for the exam date that best fits your schedule. The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions that must be completed within 3 hours time limit.

The cost of taking the ACSM CEP exam varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of ACSM at the time of registration:

  • ACSM Member: $325 USD
  • Non-Member: $425 USD

In addition to the exam fee there is also a one-time processing fee of $50 USD which covers all future re-certification exams taken within 10 years from initial certification date.

Once you have successfully passed the exam you will receive your official certificate in 4–6 weeks after passing date via email or postal service depending on your preference during registration process.

8. American Kinesiology Association (AKA)

The American Kinesiology Association (AKA) is a professional organization that promotes excellence in the field of kinesiology. It provides educational, research, and professional development opportunities for its members. The AKA also works to advance the profession of kinesiology and promote the health and well-being of individuals through physical activity and sport.

To become a member of the AKA, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. Generally, you must have earned a bachelor's degree or higher in kinesiology or a related field from an accredited college or university. You must also have at least two years' experience working in the field of kinesiology.

It can take up to four weeks to process your membership application once it has been received by the AKA. Once approved, you will receive an official membership card along with access to all of the benefits that come with being a member.

The cost for an individual annual membership is $75 USD per year; however, discounts are available for students, seniors, and other groups. Additionally, there are discounted rates for multi-year memberships as well as group memberships for organizations or universities.

9. Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is an assessment tool used to evaluate the functional movement patterns of athletes and individuals. It is designed to identify any asymmetries or limitations in mobility, stability, and motor control that may put an individual at risk for injury. The FMS consists of seven tests that measure the quality of fundamental movement patterns including the deep squat, hurdle step, inline lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk stability push-up and rotary stability.

The FMS can be completed in about 20 minutes. To get an FMS evaluation you will need to find a certified provider who has been trained in administering the FMS. This can include physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractors or strength coaches. Most providers will charge a fee for their services which can range from $50-$200 depending on the provider and location.

10. Titleist Performance Institute Level 1 certification

The Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Level 1 Certification is a comprehensive educational program designed to teach coaches, fitness professionals, and medical professionals how to assess, train and coach golfers of all ages and abilities. The program provides a thorough understanding of the physical demands of the golf swing, as well as how to properly assess and train golfers for optimal performance.

The TPI Level 1 Certification consists of an online course that takes approximately 10-12 hours to complete. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive a TPI Level 1 Certificate.

To get certified, individuals must register for the TPI Level 1 Certification Course at tpi.com/certification-courses/level-1/. The cost for the certification course is $499 USD.

11. Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification

Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification is an online nutrition coaching program designed to help coaches and trainers develop the skills and knowledge necessary to provide effective nutrition advice. It is a comprehensive, evidence-based program that covers all aspects of nutrition, from basic science to practical application. The program takes approximately 16 weeks to complete and includes over 30 hours of video lectures, readings, quizzes and assignments.

The cost of the Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification is $499 USD, which includes access to the online course materials as well as a one-year membership in the Precision Nutrition Coaching Network. To get certified, applicants must first register for the course by submitting an application form and payment. Once accepted into the program, participants are required to complete all coursework within 16 weeks and pass a final exam with a score of 80% or higher. Upon successful completion of the coursework and exam, participants will receive their Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification.

Do You Really Need a Athletic Trainer Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on your individual goals. An athletic trainer certificate can be beneficial for those looking to specialize in sports medicine or become an athletic trainer, but it is not necessarily a requirement.

If you are interested in becoming an athletic trainer, then having an athletic trainer certificate is essential. Athletic trainers are healthcare professionals who specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries and illnesses related to physical activity. The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) requires certification of athletic trainers in order to practice. This certification requires passing the Board of Certification (BOC) exam, which tests knowledge in areas such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses related to physical activity.

However, if you are interested in working with athletes but do not want to become an athletic trainer specifically, then an athletic trainer certificate may not be necessary. Many jobs related to sports medicine or exercise science do not require certification as an athletic trainer. For example, physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches do not necessarily need a certification as an athletic trainer; however they must meet the specific requirements for their job role.

In conclusion, whether or not you need an Athletic Trainer Certificate depends on your individual goals and career path. If you plan on becoming a certified Athletic Trainer then it is essential that you obtain the appropriate credentials from NATA; however if you are simply looking for a job related to sports medicine or exercise science then it may not be necessary for you to attain this certificate.

Related: Athletic Trainer Resume Examples

FAQs About Athletic Trainer Certifications

1. What certifications do athletic trainers need?

Answer: Athletic trainers must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, be certified by the Board of Certification (BOC) and meet state licensure requirements.

2. How much does it cost to become a certified athletic trainer?

Answer: The cost to become a certified athletic trainer varies depending on the type of certification sought and the state in which it is obtained. Generally, fees range from $50 to $400, plus any additional costs for required continuing education courses or materials.

3. How long does it take to become an athletic trainer?

Answer: It typically takes four years to complete the educational requirements for becoming an athletic trainer, but this can vary depending on the individual's academic background and chosen program. After completing their education, individuals must pass both the BOC exam and any applicable state licensing exams before they can practice as an athletic trainer.

4. What are the requirements for maintaining my certification?

Answer: To maintain your certification, you must complete continuing education courses related to your field every two years and submit evidence of completion to the BOC for review. Additionally, you must renew your certification every four years by submitting an application and paying a renewal fee.

5. Are there different levels of certification available?

Answer: Yes, there are three levels of certification available: Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), Advanced Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC-A) and Master Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC-M). Each level requires additional qualifications and experience in order to qualify for that level of certification.