Orthopedic Technician: Career, Outlook and Education Requirements

Orthopedic technicians build and fit braces and prosthetics to improve patient mobility and relieve pain. Get information on the education and training need to work as an orthopedic technician, and see what the predictions are for job growth and salaries in this field. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Orthopedic Technician?

Orthopedic (or orthopaedic) technicians, also called prosthetic technicians, prepare and maintain braces, crutches, prosthetics and other orthotics. As an orthopedic technician, you may use many different materials to form and craft orthotics. You'll also work closely with orthopedic doctors to provide comfort, stability and range of motion for patients.

Through the use of patient interviews and examinations, you will work with doctors to come up with designs that meet patients' needs. You should have a good understanding of the tools that orthopedic technicians use to measure body parts, calculate movement and craft orthotics and prosthetics. In addition to making orthotics and prosthetics you may also be tasked with teaching patients how use them and, in the event of damage, make repairs.

What Salary and Prospects Might I Have?

The BLS predicted a 11% percent increase in job opportunities for all medical appliance technicians in the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The reasoning for this prediction was the rise of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses that can result in the loss of limbs. Also with advances in medical technology, more and more patients are surviving severe accidents that result in the loss of limbs. According to Salary.com in 2017, the median salary for orthopedic technicians was $42,146.

How Can I Prepare?

Orthopedic technicians have no set educational requirements, but some colleges offer an associate degree program in orthopedic technology, which is designed to prepare you for entry into the career. Some employers may hire and train you on-the-job if you only have a high school diploma.

In either case, O*Net OnLine suggests expanding your knowledge in communications, science, anatomy and medicine in preparation for your orthopedic technology career (www.onetonline.org). You may also find knowledge of engineering, design, computer science, critical thinking, quality control and visualization helpful. You might even consider courses in medical terminology, orthopedic techniques, physiology and healthcare systems when preparing for employment. O*Net OnLine also stated that 21% of orthopedic technicians have only a high school diploma, while 44% have completed some college training.

For employment beyond entry-level positions, you may need to obtain one of the two certifications from the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists (www.nbcot.net). Another option is the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, which certifies orthotists, technicians and orthotic fitters (www.abcop.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in the construction of prosthetics, then you may also be interested in the production of dentures and eyeglasses. These are typically created by dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians. Similar to orthopedic technicians, these types of technicians need a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Dispensing opticians also have the same education and training requirements, and they focus on fitting patients' eyeglasses and contact lenses.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools