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Athletic Training Profession

What is an Athletic Trainer?

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who render service or treatment, under the direction of or in collaboration with a physician, in accordance with their education and training and the states’ statutes, rules and regulations. As a part of the health care team, services provided by ATs include injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. *Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as a health care profession.

*This definition is approved by the Inter-Agency Terminology Work Group and the Athletic Trainer Strategic Alliance, January 2017.


The BOC was incorporated in 1989 as a not-for-profit credentialing agency to provide a certification program for the entry-level athletic training profession.

The BOC establishes both the standards for the practice of athletic training and the continuing education requirements for BOC Certified ATs.

The BOC works with state regulatory agencies to provide credential information, professional conduct guidelines and regulatory standards on certification issues. The BOC also has the only entry-level accredited certification program for ATs in the United States and has an International Arrangement with Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Ireland (ARTI), British Association of Sport Rehabilitators (BASRaT) and Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA).

In 2021, the BOC Orthopedic Specialty Certification (orthopedic specialty) for ATs was launched. The Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedics (BCS‑O) credential is available to ATs who have acquired specialized education and focused experience in orthopedics beyond the requirements for the ATC® credential. It is the first and only board-certified specialty for ATs who specialize in orthopedics and it is backed by the BOC’s rigorous process and standards.


Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Ireland (ARTI)

is a recently founded professional organization responsible for the promotion, regulation and continued education of Athletic Rehabilitation Therapists. ARTI is dedicated to ensuring that all Certified Athletic Rehabilitation Therapists provide the highest quality of care to all patients and athletes. The BOC and ARTI have a mutual recognition arrangement. BOC Certified Athletic Trainers interested in becoming certified in Ireland, please visit the ARTI website. ARTI Certified Athletic Therapists interested in becoming certified through the BOC, please click here.

The Strategic Alliance

is a group of four leading organizations committed to the athletic training profession and to the delivery of quality health care to the public. The four member organizations are:

Each member of the Strategic Alliance serves a distinct group of stakeholders, yet all members have a shared interest in advancing the athletic training profession. The Strategic Alliance collaborate throughout the year to discuss research and deliberate on current topics of interest to the profession; solicit feedback from the public; and communicate findings and positions to all stakeholders. The Strategic Alliance offers its joint statements in an informed manner based upon what is best for students, patients, the public and the profession.

AT Strategic Alliance Vision: The Strategic Alliance will promote worldwide growth, enhanced protection, strategic development and continued advancement of the athletic training profession.

AT Strategic Alliance Mission: Through the collaborative efforts of accreditation, credentialing, membership and research of athletic training, the Strategic Alliance advances the Athletic Training profession by identifying and prioritizing current and future practices and initiatives impacting the profession of athletic training and its stakeholders worldwide.

The Strategic Alliance has issued the following statement:
Legal and Ethical Responsibility to Report Unregulated Practice

Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education

is the agency responsible for the accreditation of more than 360 professional (entry-level) athletic training programs, 16 Post-Professional Degree Programs and two Residencies. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) cooperate to sponsor the CAATE and collaborate to develop the “Standards for Entry-Level Athletic Training Educational Programs”

Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE)

formerly the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA), is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational, networking and advocacy resources for the credentialing community. ICE’s accrediting body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), evaluates certification organizations for compliance with the NCCA’s “Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.” ICE provides educational resources and best practices for organizations with certification programs, whereas, the NCCA evaluates those certification programs based on predetermined and standardized criteria.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA)

is the national membership organization for the profession of athletic training and others who support the athletic training profession. The BOC began as a committee of the NATA until it was separately incorporated in 1989. The mission of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association is to represent, engage and foster the continued growth and development of the athletic training profession and athletic trainers as unique health care providers.

NATA Research & CAATE

It’s work benefits every AT and every company associated with the profession, as well as the physically active community at large. The NATA Foundation is the only 501 c(3) non-profit dedicated to advancing the athletic training profession through research and education.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

is the accreditation body of Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). The NCCA’s mission is to ensure the health, welfare and safety of the public through the accreditation of a variety of individual certification programs that assess professional competency. The NCCA sets standards that include “Essential Elements” that must be met by organizations offering certification programs.

The NCCA “Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs” categories:

  1. Purpose, Governance and Resources
  2. Responsibilities to Stakeholders
  3. Assessment Instruments
  4. Recertification
  5. Maintaining Accreditation

The BOC meets all NCCA standards; BOC requirements are often originated from NCCA standards. These standards answer questions as to why ATs must complete CEUs and why the BOC and NATA are two separate organizations. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • BOC recertification must demonstrate that continued competence is in the best interest of the public and athletic training profession.
  • BOC Recertification Requirements must measure or enhance continued competence of ATs.
  • The BOC must be structured and governed in a way that is appropriate for the profession, occupation, role or skill and that ensures autonomy in decision making over essential certification activities.

The BOC has the only accredited certification program for ATs in the US. Since 1982, the BOC has been continuously accredited by the NCCA and must undergo review and reaccreditation every five years.

World Federation of Athletic Training and Therapy (WFATT)

was founded in 2000 with the vision of Athletic Training & Therapy being recognized as an essential part of multidisciplinary healthcare teams worldwide.

Since inception, the WFATT has made it its mission to provide leadership to advance the international interests of its members for the common goal of optimal healthcare for physically active populations.

BOC has been a proud associate member of the WFATT since 2005.

Athlete Training Practice Domains

Learn more about the current athletic training practice domains.
Practice Analysis, 8th Edition (PA8)

BOC Exam: PA8 is effective for BOC exams beginning March/April 2023.
Certification Maintenance: PA8 is effective for continuing education beginning January 1, 2024.

  • Risk Reduction, Wellness and Health Literacy
  • Assessment, Evaluation and Diagnosis
  • Critical Incident Management
  • Therapeutic Intervention
  • Health Care Administration and Professional Responsibility

Click here to learn more about the PA8.

Professional Preparation

Learn how students become eligible for BOC certification.

Students become eligible for BOC certification through an athletic training degree program (Bachelor’s or entry-level Master’s) accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

Students engage in rigorous classroom study and clinical education in a variety of practice settings such as high schools, colleges/universities, hospitals, emergency rooms, physician offices and healthcare clinics over the course of the degree program. Students enrolled in their final semester are eligible to apply for the BOC exam.

Athletic Trainer Demographics

Learn more about the athletic training population.
Learn More About The Athletic Training Population

Employers of Athletic Training Services

Athletic Trainers are employed in many different settings.
Professional Settings:
  • Professional and Collegiate Sports
  • Secondary and Intermediate Schools
  • Sports Medicine Clinics
  • Hospital ED and Rehab Clinics
  • Occupational Settings
  • Military/Government/Law Enforcement
  • Physician Offices
  • Dance/Fine Arts
View Sample AT Job Descriptions
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