ABCs of Being an ATC (Certified Athletic Trainer)

by: Brad Yeargin – Columbia, SCCertified athletic trainers (ATCs) specialize in the prevention, recognition, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries among the active population.

Athletic trainers work under the direction of physicians and are recognized as healthcare professionals by the American Medical Association. Work settings include high schools, colleges, physical therapy clinics, orthopedic offices, professional and extreme sports, hospitals,  performing arts and factories.

The title of “athletic trainer” actually is a misnomer. Athletic trainers provide medical services to all types of people – not just athletes participating in sports – and do not train people as personal or fitness trainers do. However, the profession continues to embrace its proud culture and history by retaining the title. In other countries, athletic therapist and physiotherapist are similar titles.


  • Athletic trainers possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited athletic training program.
  • More than 70 percent of ATCs possess a master’s degree
  • Continuing education required in order to maintain certification
  • Forty-six states require state licensure or certification in order for an ATC to practice

Daily duties

  • Work as part of a sports medicine team to provide and facilitate the best care possible for patient/athlete.
  • Provide physical medicine and rehabilitation services
  • Prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate injuries (acute and chronic)
  • Coordinate care with physicians and other health care professionals
  • Develop community relationships
  • Provide patient and community health education