Orthotists and Prosthetists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Orthotists and prosthetists design and fabricate medical supportive devices and measure and fit patients for them.

Work Environment: Orthotists and prosthetists work in various industries, including manufacturing, health and personal care stores, doctors’ offices, and hospitals. Most work full time.

How to Become One: Orthotists and prosthetists need a master’s degree and certification. Both orthotists and prosthetists must complete a residency before they can be certified.

Salary: The median annual wage for orthotists and prosthetists is $69,120.

Job Outlook: Employment of orthotists and prosthetists is projected to grow 20 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. The large baby-boom population is aging, and orthotists and prosthetists will be needed because both diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the two leading causes of limb loss, are more common among older people.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of orthotists and prosthetists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as an orthotist or prosthetist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Orthotist Jobs

  • Orthotist - Continuum Medical Staffing - San Angelo, TX

    Orthotist Needed in San Angelo, TX!!! Provides care to patients with disabling conditions of limbs and spine by fitting and preparing orthopedic braces, under direction of and in consultation with ...

  • Certified Orthotist - Medkinect - Denver, CO

    We are expanding into the metro Denver area and are looking for a contingent Certified Orthotist to help us create a strong foundation. This unique, part time opportunity affords the right candidate ...

  • Casting Technician/Orthotist - Leading Orthopaedic Clinic in South Texas - Corpus Christi, TX

    As a Casting Technician/ Orthotist , you will work directly with an orthopedic surgeon, or an orthopedic physician's assistant in order to help with casting procedures. You may also help with ...

See all Orthotist jobs

Top 3 Prosthetist Jobs

  • Orhtotist and/or Prosthetist (CO or CPO) - Cameron Craig Group - Santa Clarita, CA

    CERTIFIED ORTHOTIST and/or CERTIFIED PROSTHETIST (CO or CPO) I'm working with a well established O&P generalist practice, who has been in business for almost 30 years. They have a small, yet growing ...

  • Dental Prosthetics Technician - Centurion - Carson City, NV

    We are currently seeking a full-time Dental Prosthetics Technician to join our Team at the Nevada Department of Corrections located in Carson City, Nevada. Monday- Friday 8am-5pm The Dental ...

  • Anterior QC Full Mouth Ceramist - LSK121 Oral Prosthetics - Naperville, IL

    LSK121 Oral Prosthetics is a growing laboratory at the forefront of technology. Ideal candidates need to be exceptionally talented and able to produce high-end work with incomparable quality. The ...

See all Prosthetist jobs

What Orthotists and Prosthetists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Orthotists and prosthetists design and fabricate medical supportive devices and measure and fit patients for them. These devices include artificial limbs (arms, hands, legs, and feet), braces, and other medical or surgical devices.

Duties of Orthotists and Prosthetists

Orthotists and prosthetists typically do the following:

  • Evaluate and interview patients to determine their needs
  • Take measurements or impressions of the part of a patient's body that will be fitted with a brace or artificial limb
  • Design and fabricate orthopedic and prosthetic devices based on physicians' prescriptions
  • Select materials to be used for the orthotic or prosthetic device
  • Instruct patients in how to use and care for their devices
  • Adjust, repair, or replace prosthetic and orthotic devices
  • Document care in patients' records

Orthotists and prosthetists may work in both orthotics and prosthetics, or they may choose to specialize in one area. Orthotists are specifically trained to work with medical supportive devices, such as spinal or knee braces. Prosthetists are specifically trained to work with prostheses, such as artificial limbs and other body parts.

Some orthotists and prosthetists construct devices for their patients. Others supervise the construction of the orthotic or prosthetic devices by medical appliance technicians.

Work Environment for Orthotists and Prosthetists[About this section] [To Top]

Orthotists and prosthetists hold about 9,100 jobs. The largest employers of orthotists and prosthetists are as follows:

Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing 32%
Ambulatory healthcare services 27%
Health and personal care stores 16%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 10%
Federal government, excluding postal service 9%

Orthotists and prosthetists who fabricate orthotics and prosthetics may be exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain materials, but there is little risk of injury if workers follow proper procedures, such as wearing goggles, gloves, and masks.

Orthotist and Prosthetist Work Schedules

Most orthotists and prosthetists work full time.

How to Become an Orthotist or Prosthetist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Orthotists and Prosthetists near you!

Orthotists and prosthetists need a master's degree and certification. Both orthotists and prosthetists must complete a residency before they can be certified.

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Education for Orthotists and Prosthetists

All orthotists and prosthetists must complete a master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics. These programs include courses in upper and lower extremity orthotics and prosthetics, spinal orthotics, and plastics and other materials used for fabrication. In addition, orthotics and prosthetics programs have a clinical component in which the student works under the direction of an orthotist or prosthetist.

Master's programs usually take 2 years to complete. Prospective students seeking a master's degree can have a bachelor's degree in any discipline if they have fulfilled prerequisite courses in science and math. Requirements vary by program.

In 2016, there were about a dozen orthotics and prosthetics programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Orthotist and Prosthetist Training

Following graduation from a master's degree program, candidates must complete a residency that has been accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Candidates typically complete a 1-year residency program in either orthotics or prosthetics. Individuals who want to become certified in both orthotics and prosthetics need to complete 1 year of residency training for each specialty or an 18-month residency in both orthotics and prosthetics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Orthotists and Prosthetists

Some states require orthotists and prosthetists to be licensed. States that license orthotists and prosthetists often require certification in order for them to practice, although requirements vary by state. Many orthotists and prosthetists become certified regardless of state requirements, because certification demonstrates competence.

The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) offers certification for orthotists and prosthetists. To earn certification, a candidate must complete a CAAHEP-accredited master's program, an NCOPE-accredited residency program, and pass a series of three exams.

Important Qualities for Orthotists and Prosthetists

Communication skills. Orthotists and prosthetists must be able to communicate effectively with the technicians who often fabricate the medical devices. They must also be able to explain to patients how to use and care for the devices.

Detail oriented. Orthotists and prosthetists must be precise when recording measurements to ensure that devices are fabricated and fit properly.

Patience. Orthotists and prosthetists may work for long periods with patients who need special attention.

Physical dexterity. Orthotists and prosthetists must be good at working with their hands. They may fabricate orthotics or prosthetics with intricate mechanical parts.

Physical stamina. Orthotists and prosthetists should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as working with shop equipment and hand tools. They may spend a lot of time bending over or crouching to examine or measure patients.

Problem-solving skills. Orthotists and prosthetists must evaluate their patients' situations and often look for creative solutions to their rehabilitation needs.

Orthotist and Prosthetist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for orthotists and prosthetists is $69,120. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,090, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $108,780.

The median annual wages for orthotists and prosthetists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing $72,160
Federal government, excluding postal service $70,530
Ambulatory healthcare services $70,280
Health and personal care stores $67,790
Hospitals; state, local, and private $59,960

Most orthotists and prosthetists work full time.

Job Outlook for Orthotists and Prosthetists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of orthotists and prosthetists is projected to grow 20 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,800 new jobs over the 10-year period.

The large baby-boom population is aging, and orthotists and prosthetists will be needed because both diabetes and cardiovascular disease, two leading causes of limb loss, are more common among older people. In addition, older people will continue to need other devices designed and fitted by orthotists and prosthetists, such as braces and orthopedic footwear.

Advances in technology are allowing more people to survive traumatic events. Patients with traumatic injuries, such as some veterans, will continue to need orthotists and prosthetists to create devices that allow the patients to regain or improve mobility and functionality.

Job Prospects for Orthotists and Prosthetists

Job prospects should be best for orthotists and prosthetists with professional certification. Although it is not required in all states, certification shows a specific level of educational knowledge and training that employers may prefer.

Employment projections data for Orthotists and Prosthetists, 2018-28
Occupational Title Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28
Percent Numeric
Orthotists and prosthetists 9,100 10,900 20 1,800


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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