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“Transition to Practice”: Steps to prepare for your first job as an Athletic Trainer in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania

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A Resource for Students in Athletic Training Education Programs, Presented by JAG PT Athletic Training

Phase 1 – As an athletic training student, before taking (and passing) your Board of Certification (BOC) exam:

  1. Get that resume and cover letter ready! Have a few variations of each, specific to the job setting(s) you are applying for. This makes it easier to individualize quickly for a new job post you come across. Be sure to communicate how you’ve made an impact and what would bring to that team/workplace.
  2. Create a LinkedIn profile and leverage it. Match your LinkedIn profile “experience” section to your resume and communicate key themes from your cover letter in your “about” section. Take advantage of the “headline” section to sell your impact. All of this  makes it more likely for a recruiter to find you and for prospective employers to scout you when you apply. Then get connected with fellow ATs and employers in the regions you hope to work!
  3. Become a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Did you know you can join as a student before becoming certified? Take advantage of the countless career resources and support the NATA offers. Through becoming an NATA member you also become a member of the Eastern Athletic Trainers Association, NATA District 2, and your home state association – all great resources for networking and helping you grow into your career
  4. Ensure you have (and maintain) a current Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) certification. Per the BOC, approved ECC providers are those adhering to the most current “International Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiac Care.”
  5. If seeking employment in PA: An applicant who is a graduate of an approved athletic training education program and who has applied to take the examination may be granted a temporary license (up to 1 year or when obtaining license) to practice athletic training under the onsite direct supervision of a licensed athletic trainer. Temporary Licensure

Phase 2 – After passing your BOC Exam:

  1. Be proactive in completing the application for the state-specific licensure and/or registration, along with any other state-specific credentials required to land your first job. See below for state-specific recommendations.
  2. Apply for your National Provider Identifier Number.
  3. Update your NATA membership details to become a certified member. As an NATA member, you can complete your member profile and upload your resume into their Job Seeker database.
  4. Once you have your state-specific license and/or certificate, to practice as an AT you will require a physician-signed Plan of Care (NJ and NY) or Written Protocol (PA). This document gives an overview of what you can do as an AT, where you can do it, and who you can apply your skill set to as a practicing AT. If you work for a business or organization, they will typically provide this for you. If you are working independently, you will need to identify a physician licensed in the state you wish to practice in to sign. If you need to seek your own, start with asking your network of ATs for recommendations, or any family practice, ortho, or sports medicine physician you already have some sort of relationship with. Be prepared that there may be a fee involved for the physician to serve as your “supervising physician”
    1. Sample written protocol templates (
    2. Keep in mind your document must be state-specific based on your state practice act details).
  5. Obtain Professional Liability Insurance. Find many options with a quick web search “athletic training professional liability insurance”, compare costs, and lock it in before you start practicing. Recommended minimum limits of liability: $1,000,000/$3,000,000
  6. Know your national and state-specific (if in New Jersey) Continuing Education Unit (CEU) reporting period(s). Start knocking out those CE Courses in areas of your focus, and keep those certificates of completion/attendance for possible future audits.

Phase 3 – Address state-specific needs:

  •  New York (certification)
  • New Jersey (licensure)
    • Apply: New Jersey Athletic Training license
    • If any chance of working in secondary schools in NJ at some point, complete your application for the Department of Education “SCHOOL ATHLETIC TRAINER STANDARD CERTIFICATE
      • Create an NJEdCert Account (link on the bottom of the page)
      • Apply for a STANDARD certification:  When filling out the Certifications and Endorsements section, you choose – Educational services certificate – School Athletic Trainer (Code 2930)
      • Note: You cannot complete the entire application process online. After applying online, email all necessary documentation to Electronic transcripts must be sent directly from your university, college, clearinghouse or school. Include your tracking number in the subject line of all correspondence with our office.
    • Note: Biennial license requirement – New Jersey requires athletic trainers to complete 2-hours of concussion education and 1 hour of education in prescription opioid drugs, including the risks and signs of opioid abuse, addiction, and diversion. These courses must be with BOC-approved providers
  • Pennsylvania (licensure)
      • PA Athletic Training Licensure requirements
      • Temporary Licensure available until license is approved (1 year max)
      • To officially apply visit
      • Requires completion of 3 hours of approved training by the Department of Human Services (DHS) on the topic of child abuse recognition and reporting. Must register for the course using the information provided on your application for licensure. A list of DHS-approved child abuse education providers can be found on the Department of State Website. Must update and maintain each license cycle.

Learn More From JAG Physical Therapy

Congratulations on preparing for your first athletic trainer job! Keep honing your skills, expanding your knowledge and networking with other professionals. Don't forget to check out our other resources and opportunities at JAG Physical Therapy to advance your career in the sports medicine industry. Contact us to learn more!