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.

What Does an Orthopedic Technician Do?

Orthopedic technicians help doctors and orthopedic surgeons in acute and clinical settings with tasks such as removing casts and splints. They may also help physicians in adjusting joints and bones. In some cases they may also help physicians design orthopedic devices. They then may be responsible for helping patients learn how to use these devices, while keeping records of how patients adjust to using them as well as their satisfaction. This data is helpful when creating future orthopedic devices. 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; setup 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 (2014-2024) 23% (for all orthotists and prosthetists)*
Median Salary (2016) $40,751**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.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.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A similar job to that of an orthopedic technician is a prosthetist. Whereas orthopedic technicians help develop and teach patients how to use orthopedic devices, prosthetists work with prosthetic devices. In the field of dentistry, dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians are the equivalent to orthotists and prosthetists. Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians help design and create dentures and eyeglasses respectively, as well as other prosthetics related to their fields.

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