With only two collegiate sports teams and just 25 hospitals, Alaska may not seem like a great place to work for athletic trainers. However, with three Air Force bases, three Army bases, and three Coast Guard bases, athletic trainers in Alaska have plenty of opportunities to earn internship hours and work with soldiers and military veterans at one of the nine military bases in the state. Alaska athletic trainers earn an average annual salary of $44,972. Read on to find out how you can become an athletic trainer and make a comfortable living in Alaska.
Athletic Trainer Clinical Education
Believe it or not, Alaska is one of the two states that does not regulate athletic training field (the other being California), but that could change very soon. The Alaska state legislature has proposed House Bill No. 160, which if enacted would regulate the licensing of athletic trainers in the state. The bill seeks to define the scope of athletic training in Alaska and restrict who can practice athletic training without being licensed. The bill states that unless you obtain an athletic training license in accordance with the licensee rules outlined by the legislature or you are a:
- Student who is currently enrolled in an accredited athletic training program and working under the direct supervision of a licensed athletic trainer, physician, or osteopathic physician, or
- Registered, licensed, or certified athletic trainer from another state who intends to reside in the state for no more than 90 days and only practice athletic training on individuals or groups who are not based in Alaska, or
- Military service member or federal employee practicing athletic training within the scope of your job duties
you cannot practice athletic training in the state of Alaska. Should the bill pass, all persons in Alaska using the title athletic trainer must cease the use of this title unless they obtain the proper license. However, the bill notes that coaches and fitness trainers who perform similar duties to an athletic trainer do not have to obtain a license as long as they refrain from using the athletic trainer title.
Since talks of regulation are in their infancy in Alaska, the qualifications for obtaining an athletic trainer’s license in the state aren’t very clear. At a bare minimum, House Bill No. 160 states that perspective athletic trainers must be certified by the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC) ,or another nationally recognized professional athletic trainer association that the department approves of, and you must provide proof of your certification upon licensing.
Transferring an Athletic Training License to Alaska from Another State
The bill currently does not outline how Alaska plans to handle athletic trainers transferring from another state. However, it’s safe to assume that like most other states, as long as you are nationally certified and pass the BOC examination, you should have no trouble obtaining an athletic trainer license if you decide to move to Alaska from another state.
Again, due to its infancy, Alaska’s athletic training bill doesn’t explicitly state any type of required certifications to meet the athletic trainer licensing qualifications. However, since most athletic trainers must be prepared and equipped to handle certain emergency situations for patients in their care, obtaining a CPR, EMS, First Aid, or Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) certification couldn’t hurt your prospects. In fact, these certifications may boost your chances of scoring an advanced or supervisory position.
The Alaska athletic training bill does state that aspiring licensees must be BOC certified, therefore future athletic trainers in the state must complete the BOC exam in order to become licensed. In order to sit for the BOC exam, you must be a student in his or her last semester of an accredited athletic training program, or a graduate of an accredited athletic training program. Now the thing that makes this tricky for Alaskans is that there are no accredited athletic training programs in the state, so most Alaskans would more than likely have to attend an athletic training program outside of the state to meet the BOC exam eligibility requirements. As stated before, the exact rules outlining licensing in the state aren’t very clear at this stage because the bill hasn’t even passed yet, and who is to say that some athletic programs in Alaska won’t obtain accreditation by the time the bill passes.
Another aspect of the athletic training profession that House Bill No. 160 aims to define is Alaska’s continuing education requirements for athletic trainers. As it stands, since the state does not regulate the profession, current athletic trainers do not have to meet any continuing education requirements. Should the bill pass, it’s safe to presume that the state would implement the national continuing education requirements of 75 contact hours every 3 years, or 25 continuing education hours every year. It is not clear if the state would accept online courses as continuing education credits, but if the state follows national NATA and BOC standards so closely on other licensing matters, I’m sure the state would follow in NATA’s and BOC’s footsteps on this matter as well.