Athletic Training vs. Personal Training

A lot of individuals are fairly confused about the differences between athletic trainers and personal trainers. Many people use the term “trainer” interchangeably. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of confusion and does not accurately represent the differences between these professions. It is important to understand who you’re working with and what they are qualified to provide. So who are athletic trainers and personal trainers?

Athletic Trainers

Athletic training is a recognized allied health care profession that encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers specialize in injury education and prevention. They must obtain, at least, a bachelors degree in athletic training and sit for a certification exam to obtain the ATC (certified athletic trainer) credential. Athletic trainers are regulated by professional standards on many levels including local government, a national certifying agency (most commonly the Board of Certification) and a national code of ethics. They are required to complete numerous continuing education courses each year to maintain their certification. In addition to this, most states require an athletic trainer to obtain a license to practice like many other medical professions. Daily duties of athletic trainers include things, such as providing injury prevention care, rehabilitation, conditioning, injury diagnosis (both acute and chronic), and injury treatment. Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings including clinics, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, professional sports, industry, military, and performing arts.

Personal Trainers

Personal trainers develop and monitor a personal fitness program. They may obtain a credential from a number of agencies without having received any formal education. However, some individuals identify themselves as a personal trainer without any form of credential. Several credentialing agencies exist and each agency has a wide range of requirements to become a personal trainer. Some require only taking a short test, while others require any bachelors degree plus passing an exam to obtain. So, some personal trainers may have formal exercise performance education, but this is not required to become a personal trainer. Likewise, continuing education is not mandatory to be a personal trainer. Daily duties of personal trainers include many different things, but their main focus is on achieving a client’s fitness goals. Personal trainers typically work in gyms or health clubs.

Although personal trainers can assist you in meeting your personal fitness goals, athletic trainers can provide many valuable additional services. So think about your goals and seek out the professional with the right credentials and education for you.


  1. National Athletic Training Association.
  2. National Athletic Training Association.

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