Football is practically a religion in Alabama, and with hundreds of football and other youth sports programs and 45 collegiate athletic programs, opportunities are ripe and growing for athletic trainers in the Yellowhammer State. Alabama also has nearly 130 hospitals where athletic trainers can gain internship experience and work. On average, athletic trainers in Alabama earn an annual salary of $42,330, and here’s how you can claim your spot in the field.
Unlike some other states, Alabama doesn’t impose its own individual set of requirements to obtain an athletic trainer’s license. The state requires that prospective athletic trainers comply with the rules and regulations set forth by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Board of Certification, Inc. According to NATA, the first step to become a licensed athletic trainer in Alabama is earning an undergraduate degree. Your baccalaureate degree must be in athletic training, and the program you enroll in must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. Failure to enroll in an athletic training program that is CAATE-certified will make you ineligible to sit for the national athletic trainer certifying exam. The educational program you choose must cover the following subject areas:
- Acute care of injury and illness
- Clinical examination and diagnosis
- Evidence-based practice
- Health care administration
- Prevention and health promotion
- Professional development and responsibility
- Psychological strategies and referral
- Therapeutic intervention
Athletic Trainer Clinical Education
Per NATA’s standards, aspiring Alabama athletic trainers must complete at least 2 years of clinical rotations during their undergraduate studies. The purpose of clinicals are to give athletic training students real world experience and the opportunity to work with patients from all walks of life. Students not only work with patients who suffer from athletic injuries or musculoskeletal issues, students also have the opportunity to work with patients who suffer from general medical conditions. All clinicals must be performed under the supervision of a licensed athletic trainer or a credentialed health professional.
Transferring an Athletic Training License to Alabama from another State
If you’re already a licensed, certified or registered athletic trainer, transferring your credentials from another state to Alabama is relatively easy. As long as you are licensed in a state that has similar licensing requirements as Alabama, all the state’s board of athletic trainers asks is that your current license be in good standing. If this is the case, you can easily transfer your athletic trainer’s license to Alabama without examination. If you come from a state that has dissimilar licensing requirements or that doesn’t regulate the athletic training profession at all, at a minimum you must meet NATA’s licensing standards to obtain an athletic training license in Alabama.
Again unlike some other states, Alabama doesn’t explicitly require athletic trainers to hold certain certifications, such as an EMS or automatic defibrillator certification, prior to obtaining a license. However, the Alabama Board of Athletic Trainers counts the following certifications as advanced and specialized training:
- Emergency medical technician certification (EMT-B, EMT-I, EMBT-P, National Register)
- Physical Therapist certification/license
- APTA Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist (SCS)
- NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Certification
- Nursing license (RN or LPN)
The final step in obtaining an athletic trainer’s license in Alabama is completing the NATA Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC) examination. In order to be eligible for the BOC examination, you must complete a CAATE-accredited educational program or be within your final semester/quarter of a CAATE-accredited educational program when you sit for the exam. The program director of your educational program must certify that you have received or will receive a bachelors or masters degree in athletic training on your exam application. For more on the BOC examination, read here.
In order to maintain your athletic trainer’s license in the Yellowhammer State, you must earn a certain amount of continuing education credits within a certain period of time. Alabama requires that all licensed athletic trainers earn a minimum of 75 continuing education hours over a three year period. These hours can be obtained a variety of ways. From taking home study courses to attending conferences, as long as the program is BOC-approved, it counts toward your continuing education hours. This also includes online courses and seminars.
More and more athletic trainers are using their continuing education credits as an opportunity to travel and advance their skills at the same time. I know many ATs who travel all across the country and as far as Japan to attend seminars and workshops that indeed count toward continuing education hours. I consider it a win-win, and it’s also a great opportunity to meet other athletic trainers from around the globe and make professional connections that could help you in the future.