Academic Employers' Impressions Regarding the Qualifications of Athletic Trainers With the Doctor of Athletic Training Degree

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Context: The emergence of the doctor of athletic training (DAT) degree creates opportunities to develop advanced practice leaders in athletic training. Preliminary data suggest academic employers are likely to hire and believe it would be beneficial to hire someone with a DAT degree; however, it remains unclear how academic employers perceive the DAT degree.

Objectives: To explore the impressions of academic employers regarding the qualifications of athletic trainers (ATs) with the DAT degree for employment in the academic setting.

Design: Qualitative study.

Setting Individual video interviews.

Participants: A total of 11 employers who are ATs (8 women, 3 men; age = 42 ± 8.5 years; years as an educator = 10.3 ± 5.9 years).

Data Collection and Analysis: The primary investigator interviewed participants via individual video conferences using a semistructured interview guide to gather perceptions of the DAT degree and the role of ATs with the DAT in academic settings. Data were analyzed and coded into common themes and categories, followed by triangulation of data via the research team and member checking to ensure data accuracy.

Results: One predominant theme emerged relative to the employers' impressions regarding qualifications of ATs with the DAT degree. Participants characterized those with the DAT degree as being capable of conducting practice-based research and implementing innovative practices in and outside of the classroom. Participants also described DAT-credentialed ATs as individuals who embodied advanced practice characteristics demonstrated through leadership, soft skills, core competencies, and advanced application of knowledge and skills.

Conclusions: Although academic employers' impressions toward hiring DAT-credentialed ATs were positive, the focus and role of the DAT degree remains unclear. Further education is needed within the athletic training community to clarify the goal and focus of the DAT degree and its role in athletic training education.




Athletic Training Education Journal






National Athletic Trainers' Association/Allen Press