A Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) is a degreed and nationally certified healthcare practitioner of the sports medicine community who, when present, is the first to respond to and rehabilitate a sports-related injury under the direction and delegation of a board certified medical physician.
The Certified Athletic Trainer is first charged with the duties and responsibilities concerning the care and well-being of the athlete. This primarily entails the prevention, recognition and rehabilitation of an athletic-related injury.
Some of the daily activities of the ATC, however, also include the recruitment of team members such as orthopaedic surgeons, family practitioners, chiropractors, and dental and eye specialists. Certified Athletic Trainers also have administrative duties like managing personnel (Assistant ATCs, Graduate Assistants, students, volunteers, etc.), purchasing equipment, and maintaining Athletic Training Facility inventory.
For answers to questions not addressed on this page, please click the regulating organization and agency links listed on the Athletic Training Links page.
Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) work was traditionally limited to professional athletic environments. In recent years, however, athletic training settings have expanded to include weekend public sporting events; middle school, high school and collegiate athletics; strength and conditioning specialization settings; physicians' extenders in medical offices; clinicians of in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation offices; work-place ergometric consultants; on-site industrial clinicians of large corporations; and military installations.
Becoming a Certified Athletic Trainer requires a minimum of a specialized baccalaureate degree in athletic training. Most ATCs elect to continue their education through the master's level, and some even obtain a terminal degree (Ph.D.) in the human sciences.
Immediately following completion of the baccalaureate degree program, athletic training students sit for a national certification exam regulated by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer to earn the rights and privileges of certification.
Because applied rehabilitative techniques and knowledge of human physiology expand at high rates, the Certified Athletic Trainer must annually sit for a minimum of 27 contact hours of Continued Education after certification. Continued Education allows the Certified Athletic Trainer to stay abreast of the latest in protection equipment, injury mechanisms, surgical and rehabilitative techniques, rehabilitative tools and legislative changes.