Students become eligible for Board of Certification (BOC) certification through an athletic training (bachelor or entry-level masters) degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).
Entry-level athletic training education uses a competency-based approach in both the classroom and clinical settings. Using a medical-based education model, instructors teach athletic training students to provide comprehensive medical care in five domains of clinical practice: prevention; clinical evaluation and diagnosis; immediate and emergency care; treatment and rehabilitation; organization, administration, and professional health and well-being.
The educational requirements for CAATE-accredited Athletic Training Education programs include not only cognitive (knowledge) and psychomotor (skill) content, but also a broad scope of foundational behaviors of professional practice, as well as a comprehensive clinical learning requirement that is embodied in the clinical proficiencies (professional, practice-oriented outcomes) as identified in the Athletic Training Educational Competencies and Clinical Proficiencies.
To become a BOC-certified athletic trainer, you must earn a degree from a college or university with an accredited athletic training program and pass the exam administered by the Omaha-based Board of Certification. Some states also require a second test above and beyond the NATA requirements.
There are several paths to becoming an NFL ATC. The first approach starts by working as an undergrad student intern for training camp followed by completing your master's, while along the way gaining good football experience to see if this is the career for you. Furthermore, seasonal internships with individual teams are a great stepping-stone to truly serving as part of the staff and, more often than not, they're a great way to network with ATCs from around the league.
Internships vary throughout the league, and typically one to two seasonal internships are available per team. Applicants can apply in the fall for open positions for each team. The majority of NFL teams require that seasonal internship applicants are certified athletic trainers and have either graduated from an accredited undergraduate or graduate Athletic Training Education Program (ATEP). They often start in the spring and extend through the end of the NFL season. A seasonal intern's role will vary from team to team, but he or she typically is involved in duties on a daily basis, continually demonstrating the ability to serve as a productive member of the athletic training staff. As seasonal interns progress, they gain more responsibilities relative to field setup and breakdown for practice and game days, taping duties and stretching responsibilities. They may help with rehabilitation protocols, provide support during practice and pack and prepare trunks for away games. Mentoring and teaching in relation to football experience is also common. Please contact individual teams to apply.
Training Camp/Summer Internships
Undergraduate students who are enrolled in an accredited Athletic Training Education Program (ATEP) can apply in the fall for open positions for each team, which begin in the summer. Teams rely heavily on summer/training camp interns for coverage of the larger number of players present. Interns can expect to be exposed to a variety of rotating responsibilities each week, including field setup and breakdown for practice, taping and rehab to get them involved in different aspects of training camp. Please contact individual teams to apply.