Athletic Training Programs in California: Everything You Need to Know

Are you considering a career in athletic training and looking for the best programs available in California? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about athletic training programs in California.

Athletic Training Programs in California: Everything You Need to Know

What is Athletic Training?

Athletic trainers are healthcare professionals who specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries related to physical activities. They work with athletes of all ages and levels, from recreational players to professional athletes. Athletic trainers work closely with other healthcare professionals such as physicians, physical therapists, and coaches to ensure that athletes receive the best possible care.

Why Pursue an Athletic Training Program in California?

California is home to some of the top athletic training programs in the country. These programs offer state-of-the-art facilities, experienced faculty members, and hands-on clinical experiences that prepare students for successful careers in sports medicine. Additionally, California’s diverse population provides students with opportunities to work with a wide range of athletes, from different backgrounds and cultures.

Types of Athletic Training Programs Available in California

There are several types of athletic training programs available in California. These include:

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Bachelor’s degree programs typically take four years to complete and provide students with foundational knowledge and skills required for entry-level positions as athletic trainers. Some examples of bachelor’s degree programs offered by Californian universities include:

  • University of Southern California (USC) offers a bachelor’s program that combines classroom instruction with practical experience providing care for USC’s Division I teams.
  • San Diego State University (SDSU) offers a bachelor’s program that focuses on injury prevention, evaluation, rehabilitation techniques, therapeutic modalities as well as emergency medical care.

Master’s Degree Programs

Master’s degree programs take two years to complete and build upon foundational knowledge provided by bachelor’s degrees. They offer specialized coursework allowing students to focus on specific areas of interest. Examples of master’s degree programs offered by Californian universities include:

  • California State University, Fullerton offers a Masters in Athletic Training program that focuses exclusively on athletic training and includes clinical experiences with NCAA division I teams as well as local high schools.
  • San Francisco State University offers a Master of Science (MS) in Kinesiology with a concentration in Athletic Training which combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience in real-world settings.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Doctoral degree programs take three to five years to complete and prepare students for leadership roles within the field of sports medicine. The programs emphasize research, teaching, and advanced clinical skills.

There is only one university in California offering a doctoral degree in athletic training:

  • A.T. Still University offers an online Doctorate in Athletic Training degree that accommodates both post-professional and entry-level candidates.

Admission Requirements for Athletic Training Programs

Each program has its admission requirements. However, most undergraduate-level athletic training programs require applicants to have completed high school or received their equivalent certification. Additionally, they may require students to have completed coursework in biology, anatomy & physiology, chemistry, physics, and psychology.

On the other hand, graduate-level athletic training programs typically require applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and be certified by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Board of Certification (NATABOC).


Accreditation ensures that academic institutions maintain high standards of quality education. Prospective students should ensure that the athletic training program they are considering is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

Careers and Salaries for Athletic Trainers in California

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for athletic trainers in California is $55,540 (May 2020). The BLS also projects job growth rate at 16% between 2019-2029 which is much faster than the national average.

Athletic trainers can work in various settings, including:

  • Schools and universities
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Professional sports teams
  • Fitness clubs
  • Rehabilitation centers


In conclusion, athletic training programs in California provide students with a high-quality education that prepares them for successful careers in sports medicine. Prospective students should consider factors such as program type, accreditation, admission requirements, and career opportunities to make an informed decision on which program to choose. With this guide, you have all the information you need to take that crucial step towards building a successful career in athletic training.


What are the benefits of enrolling in athletic training programs in California?

Athletic training programs in California offer a comprehensive and specialized education for individuals who aspire to become professional trainers or physical therapists. Through these programs, students gain practical skills, theoretical knowledge, and hands-on experience that can prepare them to deliver top-notch services to athletes and other clients.

How long does it take to complete an athletic training program in California?

The duration of an athletic training program in California varies depending on the level of certification or degree you wish to pursue. Typically, a bachelor’s degree may take four years to complete while a master’s degree may take two years. However, there are also certificate programs that last between six months to one year.

What prerequisites do I need before I can enroll in an athletic training program in California?

Generally, you need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and a satisfactory score on standardized tests such as ACT or SAT. Additionally, some schools may require prerequisite courses like anatomy, biology, chemistry, and kinesiology.

Can I work as an athletic trainer without getting licensed or certified?

No. In California, all athletic trainers must be licensed by the state’s Board of Certification before they can practice their profession legally. Moreover, licensure requirements include completing specific academic coursework and clinical hours through approved programs accredited by CAATE (Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education).

Are there scholarships available for aspiring athletic trainers and therapists in California?

Yes! Many universities and organizations offer scholarships or financial aid to deserving students who show academic excellence, leadership potential, community involvement, financial need or other criteria that align with their mission statement. Some examples include the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), and local sports teams like the Laker Youth Foundation.

What types of courses will I take in an athletic training program in California?

Some common courses you may encounter in an athletic training program in California include biomechanics, exercise physiology, sports psychology, nutrition, injury prevention and treatment, therapeutic modalities, rehabilitation techniques, emergency care, and professional ethics.

How much does it cost to enroll in an athletic training program in California?

The cost of enrollment in an athletic training program varies depending on a number of factors such as school choice, degree level, residency status, and financial aid availability. According to’s 2020 statistics report for California-based universities, the average annual tuition fee ranges from $7K per year at public community colleges to $52K per year at private research institutions. However, this estimate may not include additional expenses such as textbooks, lab fees and equipment costs or living expenses outside campus.

Can I pursue online athletic training programs while working full-time?

Yes! Many schools offer flexible online learning options that cater to students who may have work or family obligations. These programs typically allow students to complete coursework on their own schedule within a designated time frame. However, keep in mind that clinical hours and internships still require being physically present at approved sites with certified instructors.

How competitive is the job market for athletic trainers in California?

The job market for athletic trainers in California can be competitive but also rewarding for those who are skilled and experienced. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data as of May 2019 , there were approximately 6K jobs available for athletic trainers with an expected growth rate of 16% over ten years which is faster than average compared other career fields. Be open-minded about pursuing various career opportunities such as working with high school or college sports teams, fitness centers, rehabilitation clinics, hospitals or private practice.

How can I maximize my chances of being accepted into an athletic training program in California?

To increase your chances of being accepted into an athletic training program in California, start by researching various schools and their admission requirements. Follow the instructions carefully and make sure to submit all required documents on time. Additionally, maintain a high GPA (Grade Point Average) throughout your academic career, attend relevant events such as career fairs or professional conferences/ seminars, gain practical experience by volunteering or interning with athletics programs or healthcare facilities, and highlight your leadership skills and extracurricular activities in your application essay.

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