How to Become an Orthopedic Technician in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become an orthopedic technician. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Orthopedic technicians help doctors and orthopedic surgeons in acute and clinical settings with tasks such as removing casts and splints. The following chart gives you an overview about a career as an orthopedic technician.

Degree Required Post-secondary certificate or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Orthopedic technician
Key Responsibilities Immobilize patient limb by applying cast and any associated traction device prescribed by physician; set up and properly adjust hospital bed traction equipment; adjust patient dressings, bandages, casts and splints as needed
Licensure and/or Certification Professional certification is available
Job Growth (2012-2022) 36% for all orthotists and prosthetists*
Median Salary (2014) $39,466**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Is an Orthopedic Technician?

Orthopedic technicians, or orthopaedic technicians, fit patients with canes, braces and other orthotic devices. You may also measure and fit patients with prosthetics. Adjusting bandages, making plaster casts and handling traction equipment under the supervision of an orthopedic physician may round out your duties.

Step 1: Earn Your High School Diploma

A high school diploma is required for admission to orthopedic technician or technology programs. In high school, it's important to pay attention to math and English classes; some schools require that assessment tests in these subject areas be passed prior to admittance into the relevant program.

Step 2: Enroll in a Postsecondary Program

Technical schools and colleges offer orthopedic technician or technology programs that commonly result in a certificate or an associate degree. Training usually includes classes in anatomy, mathematics, medical terminology, splint application, aseptic techniques and physiology.

Step 3: Complete Training in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Off-site, hands-on coursework is required in most orthopedic technician or technology programs. Prior to undertaking this component of the program, you may need to show proof that you've been certified in CPR through the American Heart Association.

Step 4: Undertake Hands-On Training

Many programs include practicums or an externship. This provides clinical or on-the-job training, allowing you to gain practice in local hospitals or other medical facilities. You'll learn to apply orthopedic technology terminology, basic practices and policies in a real-life setting.

Step 5: Earn Certification in the Field

Graduates of approved orthopedic technology programs may pursue the optional Orthopaedic Technologist Certified (OTC) credential offered through the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists (www.nbcot.net). If you haven't met education requirements, you may still be eligible if you complete a certain amount of work experience. In order to gain the credential, you must complete an examination.

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