How to become a certified Athletic Trainer in Canada

How to Become a Certified Athletic Trainer in Canada

Becoming an athletic trainer is a satisfying career but the requirements to become certified differ depending on where you live. If you are based in Canada, this process requires you to complete a Bachelor’s degree along with an accredited athletic therapy program, a National Certification Exam, and extensive field and clinic hours. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how to become a certified athletic trainer (athletic therapist) in Canada.

Educational Requirements for Canadian Athletic Trainers
Like the US, athletic therapists in Canada require a Bachelor’s degree as the first step to becoming certified. Typically, this involves completing a degree in Kinesiology or Exercise Science with a major focus on athletic therapy. Once a Bachelor’s degree is achieved, graduates need to complete an accredited athletic therapy program. There are seven institutions within Canada that offer accredited athletic therapy programs, and these provide students with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge necessary for becoming a certified athletic therapist. 

Additional Requirements
Along with the formal educational requirements above, anyone seeking to become a certified athletic therapist in Canada must hold valid First Responder and CPR-HCP certificates. Additionally, you must also complete 1,200 practical hours under the supervision of a supervisory athletic therapist. These hours need to be divided evenly between field experience at athletic events and clinical experience (more information about this can be found at

Canadian Athletic Trainer National Certification Examination
The final step towards becoming a certified athletic therapist in Canada, is the successful completion of the National Certification Examination (NCE), set by the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA). There are two parts to this examination and at least one part must be attempted within two years of graduation from an accredited program.

Written Exam
This first part of the NCE is a written exam of 200 multiple choice questions. This exam has a minimal passing level and you must receive a final score that is equal to or higher than the passing level to successfully complete the written exam.

Practical Exam
The second part of the NCE is a practical exam which is divided into two ‘stations’ – field station and clinic station. The practical exam is graded on a pass/fail system (meaning you need to demonstrate you are competent), and both stations need to be passed to successfully complete this section of the exam.

Both stations in the exam use simulations to test your skills and knowledge of athletic therapy. The field station uses pre-hospital environment simulations to evaluate skills and knowledge in treating, managing, and preventing emergencies and/or injuries. The clinic station uses clinical simulations to evaluate your ability to devise and implement a rehabilitation program (including therapeutic modalities), and clinical assessment skills. Once the NCE is successfully completed, you’ll be a Certified Athletic Therapist, with the designated letters CAT(C).

While the process of becoming a certified athletic therapist (athletic trainer) in Canada is a lengthy one, it is also rewarding. Once certified, you’ll be a member of the Canadian healthcare system and able to ensure the safety and care of the sporting community and athletes throughout Canada.

Looking for info on how to become an athletic trainer in the U.S or Australia instead? Check out our other articles on certification requirements for U.S. athletic trainers and Australian athletic trainers