What Do Orthopedic Technicians Do?

Orthopedic technicians, also known as orthopedic technologists, work under the direct supervision of orthopedic surgeons. They assist in the operating room, apply and remove casts, fit walking aids, and perform other support duties. Keep reading to learn more about orthopedic technicians' duties and certification requirements. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Orthopedic technicians, more commonly called orthopedic technologists, assist orthopedic surgeons in the care of patients with injuries or diseases of the musculoskeletal system. One of the most important duties of an orthopedic technician is aiding surgeons in the operating room by assembling fracture tables and preparing for surgical procedures.

Orthopedic technicians apply and remove plaster and synthetic casts and inform patients about the risks of treatment. Working under the guidance of physicians, orthopedic technicians also set up and make adjustments to certain types of traction and assess patients in traction.

Additionally, orthopedic technicians teach patients to use walking aids, such as canes and crutches, and fit and adjust equipment as necessary. Under the guidance of surgeons, orthopedic technicians fabricate splints and manage other simple medical technology, including braces and prosthetic limbs.

Important Facts About Orthopedic Technicians

Median Salary (2018) $47,920 (health technologists and technicians)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12%; much faster than average (surgical technologists)*
Required Education Associate degree or certificate in orthopedic technology
Similar Occupations Dental assistants, licensed practical nurses, medical and clinical laboratory technicians and technologists, medical assistants, etc.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


The National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists (NBCOT, www.nbcot.net) administers a written certification examination. Because orthopedic technology professionals come from diverse educational and experience-related backgrounds, NBCOT has developed the following qualifications to sit for the exam:

  • Full-time, on-the-job training in orthopedic technology, under the supervision of an orthopedic physician, for a minimum of two years
  • Graduation from an orthopedic technology training program recognized by the NAOT (www.naot.org)
  • Certification or licensure as an athletic trainer, plus at least six months relevant work experience in orthopedic technology, under the supervision of an orthopedic physician

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