Podiatry Jobs: Salary and Career Facts
Explore the career requirements for podiatrists. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Podiatrist?
Podiatrists are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat ailments and injuries of the feet, ankles and lower legs. They help patients maintain good foot health. Podiatrists conduct physical exams on these areas and may use things like X-rays or lab tests to help diagnose any problems. Their treatment methods may include prescribing orthotics or medication and performing surgery if necessary. Podiatrists may work with other doctors if they suspect larger issues, such as diabetes. Podiatrists also need to stay updated with current practices and techniques in the field. Learn more about the career of podiatrist from the table below.
|Degree/Training Required||Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), plus a 3-year medical and surgical residency|
|Education Field of Study||Podiatric medicine|
|Key Responsibilities||Advise patients on proper foot care; prescribe medications, devices, physical therapy, and/or surgery; perform surgery as indicated; make, fit, and evaluate prosthetics|
|Licensure/Certification||All states require licensure; board certification is voluntary|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)||14%*|
|Mean Salary (2015)||$136,180*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Type of Work Will I Do As a Podiatrist?
Podiatrists are primarily responsible for helping clients maintain good foot health. As a professional in this field, you'll treat many types of feet disorders such as corns, calluses, tumors, cysts, ingrown toenails and heel injury. You'll perform surgery when needed, as well as create and provide prosthetic and corrective items such as casts, straps, arch supports and custom-made shoes.
Because problems with the feet and legs can often be the first warning signs of other serious conditions, you'll perform diagnostic tests to determine if issues like diabetes or heart disease are present. You'll also be responsible for performing needed x-rays and blood tests. In addition, you'll educate patients on proper foot care and prescribe medications and therapy procedures.
What Are My Requirements to Enter This Field?
To get started in the podiatry profession, you'll need to first complete a doctoral program in podiatric medicine, most of which last four years. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you'll need several years of undergraduate work and passing scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before you'll be considered for admittance into a podiatry program (www.bls.gov). Overall, such programs are highly competitive, so you'll also need a strong GPA, hands-on experience and leadership qualities to stand out from other applicants (www.une.edu). A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree is given upon graduation.
You'll also need a license before you can begin practicing. Requirements vary from state to state, but in general, you'll need to pass written and oral exams. You'll also need to complete a residency program after you graduate. However, unlike other fields that require a license in order to work, many states will allow you to work even if your license was obtained in a different state.
What Specialized Areas Are Available for Me to Pursue?
Whether working in your own private practice or for prestigious groups such as the Armed Forces, U.S. Public Health Service or Department of Veterans Affairs, there are many specialties to focus on in the field. You can work primarily in public health or primary care. You can also focus on providing surgery and orthopedic care. In addition, you can provide services in geriatrics, dermatology, sports medicine and radiology.
What Is the Job Outlook?
With increased issues of foot injuries and problems caused by obesity, diabetes, aging and other factors, employment growth in the field should be good. In fact, a growth rate of 14% was expected between 2014 and 2024, a rate which is much faster than average, according to the BLS. Salary amounts vary depending on specialization, experience and location. The BLS reported that the mean annual wage for all podiatrists was $136,180 as of May 2015.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
There are several alternative career options in the medical field for those who earn a doctoral or professional degree. One option is an optometrist. Optometrists specialize in caring for patients' eyes and visual systems. They may prescribe glasses or treat diseases of the eye. Another option is a dentist. Dentists diagnose, treat and work to prevent various conditions of the teeth, gums and mouth. Physical therapists are also similar positions. These professionals work with injured or ill patients to manage pain and increase mobility.
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