Orthopedic Technologist Education and Career Facts

Orthopedic technologists work alongside orthopedic surgeons to apply casts and splints to patients with broken bones or injured muscles. Read about diploma and degree options in this field, and find out what you'd study. Review the requirements for earning certification as an orthopedic technologist, and check the typical salary for these professionals. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

To be an orthopedic technologist, you must be trained in the application, maintenance and removal of casts, splints, canes, walkers, and other appliances. You'll advise patients on the use of these appliances as well as on the basics of traction techniques. This job will require you to go through an approved training program so that you will be able to act as a first assistant to an orthopedic surgeon.

Courses Communication , math, biology, anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, orthopedic techniques
Degrees Associate of Applied Science, certificate in orthopedic technology at community colleges
Certification Orthopaedic Technologist Certified designation available

Where Do I Get the Right Education?

The National Association of Orthopaedic Technologists (NAOT) approves training programs for orthopedic technologists. You can pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree or a certificate in orthopedic technology at community colleges. These programs generally take 1-3 years to complete. As part of your education, you might complete rotations at hospitals and clinics in order to get hands-on experience.

Some of the courses you'd study in pursuit of a program in orthopedic technology include:

  • Orthopedic anatomy and physiology
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Orthopedic techniques
  • Orthopedic surgery methods
  • Medical terminology

What About Professional Certification?

You may earn the title of Orthopedic Technologist Certified (OTC) from the National Board for the Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists (NBCOT) by taking a certification exam after you graduate from an accredited training program. You're also eligible to take the NBCOT certification examination if you have been employed for two years as an orthopedic technologist, or for six months as an athletic trainer who deals directly with orthopedic technology.

After you have earned the OTC designation and worked for one year as an orthopedic surgical assistant, you are eligible to earn the Orthopaedic Technologist Surgery Certified, or OT-SC, from the NBCOT. This certification is held in conjunction with a current OTC certification.

What Does a Career as an Orthopedic Technologist Look Like?

An important component of the work of an experienced orthopedic technologist is the ability to act as an assistant of an orthopedic surgeon. This may require you to keep patient history, prepare and position patients for surgery, retract tissue, close incisions and assist with the reduction of fractures and dislocations. You'll also remove casts and other orthopedic appliances.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2016 there were about 15,000 medical appliance technicians. Careers in this field are expected to grow 14 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS. The median annual wage for medical appliance technicians was $37,190 in May 2017. The states with the most jobs in this profession were California, Tennessee and New York.

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:

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