Sports Trainers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Participation in sports while in high school, either as an athlete or as assistant trainer or manager for a school team, is a good way to learn more about sports training. Take classes in physical education, health, anatomy, and physiology. Students with an interest in becoming athletic trainers will want to become certified in CPR and first aid.

Postsecondary Training

Sports trainers usually earn a bachelor's degree from a college or university program in athletic training that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education ( Students then intern with a certified athletic trainer. Another option is to earn a bachelor's degree or even a master's or professional degree in a related health field, such as osteopathy, and then intern with a certified athletic trainer. The number of hours required for clinical study and the internship phase will vary, depending on the program and the professional organization.

Most accredited programs in athletic training include course work in the prevention and evaluation of athletic injuries and illnesses, first aid and emergency care, therapeutic exercises, therapeutic modalities, administration of athletic training programs, human anatomy, human physiology, exercise physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, psychology, and personal and community health.

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education classes is a great way to keep your skills up to date and learn about new developments in athletic training. The National Athletic Trainers' Association and the American College of Sports Medicine provide professional development workshops and seminars.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Nearly all states require athletic trainers to be licensed or registered, which requires certification by the Board of Certification (BOC) for the Athletic Trainer. Different membership organizations and their respective certifying bodies have different eligibility requirements; individuals choose which organization best characterizes their ultimate goal.

For example, the National Athletic Trainers' Association requires that each member have a bachelor's degree (in any field), be either a graduate of an accredited program in athletic training or complete an internship, and pass a certification exam consisting of three sections—written, simulation, and oral practical.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience as an intern, volunteer, or part-time employee with a professional and amateur sports teams, sports medicine clinic, school, or another organization that employs sports trainers is highly recommended. 

Workers in this field need an understanding of human anatomy and physiology, both in terms of physical capabilities and injury treatment and prevention. Sports trainers are not squeamish when it comes to blood, broken bones, or other wounds. Athletes do get hurt, and a trainer who is unable to cope well with this aspect of sports may have a difficult time succeeding in the career. The ability and knowledge to handle medical emergencies is especially important for certified athletic trainers, whose work focuses on injury prevention and treatment.