How to Become an Athletic Trainer

I graduated from Aquinas College back in 2019, which feels like forever ago! Since I began practicing 4 years ago, there have been some changes to athletic training education. The biggest change over the last few years is that the entry-level for the profession is now a master’s degree. Overall, the material that is covered throughout the program largely remained the same. Some programs require a bachelors degree, then the masters. However, some schools, like Grand Valley State University (GVSU) have a 5 year master athletic training program that students go right into without a bachelors degree. 

  • You must attend a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
  • You must meet all the program requirements and be accepted into the program.
    • Most, if not all, programs require a grade of a C or higher for pre-requisite courses.
    • Programs will require observation hours under a licensed athletic trainer.
    • Prerequisite course samples from GVSU: Modern Principles of Athletic Training, General Biology, Basic Nutrition, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, kinesiology, Introductory Psychology, Intro Applied Statistics
  • You must maintain a CPR certification throughout the program (and the rest of your career!)
  • Course Work during the program
    • Samples from GVSU: Prehospital care, General medical conditions, injury assessment, therapeutic interventions, pharmacology, psychosocial intervention, statistics, evidence-based practice
  • You will have different rotations throughout the program. These rotations can be working with different sports teams on campus, or in surrounding school districts.
  • There will also be a lot of time spent in the athletic training room (It will almost feel like a second home to you by the end!). It will mainly consist of some observation, practicing skills, taping athletes, performing injury evaluations, and treating athletes.
  • There will be a chance to attend student summits or other educational extra-curricular opportunities. These are a GREAT way to create connections with other students and licensed athletic trainers.
  • At the end of the program, students become eligible for national certification by passing the Board of Certification (BOC) examination. (YAY! This is a moment you worked so hard for)
  • To maintain your BOC certification and enhance your knowledge set, you must participate in continuing educational units (CEUs). We need a total of 50 CEUs every two years to maintain certification. These CEUs can be completed in any area of interest!

I strongly encourage anyone interested in knowing more to call Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy at 616.256.8679 or reach out to any one of our clinics!

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Lisa Metzger, ATC