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Working As a Certified Orthotist

  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $90,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Certified Orthotist Do

Orthotists and prosthetists design and fabricate medical supportive devices and measure and fit patients for them. These devices include artificial limbs (arms, hands, legs, and feet), braces, and other medical or surgical devices. 

Duties

Orthotists and prosthetists typically do the following:

  • Evaluate and interview patients to determine their needs
  • Take measurements or impressions of the part of a patient’s body that will be fitted with a brace or artificial limb
  • Design and fabricate orthopedic and prosthetic devices based on physicians’ prescriptions
  • Select materials to be used for the orthotic or prosthetic device
  • Instruct patients in how to use and care for their devices
  • Adjust, repair, or replace prosthetic and orthotic devices
  • Document care in patients’ records

Orthotists and prosthetists may work in both orthotics and prosthetics, or they may choose to specialize in one area. Orthotists are specifically trained to work with medical supportive devices, such as spinal or knee braces. Prosthetists are specifically trained to work with prostheses, such as artificial limbs and other body parts.

Some orthotists and prosthetists construct devices for their patients. Others supervise the construction of the orthotic or prosthetic devices by medical appliance technicians.

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How To Become A Certified Orthotist

Orthotists and prosthetists need a master’s degree and certification. Both orthotists and prosthetists must complete a residency before they can be certified.

Education

All orthotists and prosthetists must complete a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics. These programs include courses in upper and lower extremity orthotics and prosthetics, spinal orthotics, and plastics and other materials used for fabrication. In addition, orthotics and prosthetics programs have a clinical component in which the student works under the direction of an orthotist or prosthetist.

Master’s programs usually take 2 years to complete. Prospective students seeking a master’s degree can have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline if they have fulfilled prerequisite courses in science and math. Requirements vary by program.

In 2015, there were 13 orthotics and prosthetics programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program​ (CAAHEP).

Training

Following graduation from a master’s degree program, candidates must complete a residency that has been accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Candidates typically complete a 1-year residency program in either orthotics or prosthetics. Individuals who want to become certified in both orthotics and prosthetics need to complete 1 year of residency training for each specialty or, less commonly, an 18-month residency in both orthotics and prosthetics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require orthotists and prosthetists to be licensed. States that license orthotists and prosthetists often require certification in order for them to practice, although requirements vary by state. Many orthotists and prosthetists become certified regardless of state requirements, because certification demonstrates competence.

The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) and the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC) offer certifications for orthotists and prosthetists. To earn certification, a candidate must complete a CAAHEP-accredited master’s program, an NCOPE-accredited residency program, and pass a series of three exams.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Orthotists and prosthetists must be able to communicate effectively with the technicians who often fabricate the medical devices. They must also be able to explain to patients how to use and care for the devices.

Detail oriented. Orthotists and prosthetists must be precise when recording measurements to ensure that devices are fabricated and fit properly.

Leadership skills. Orthotists and prosthetists who work in their own offices must be effective leaders. They must be able to manage a staff of other professionals in their office.

Patience. Orthotists and prosthetists may work for long periods with patients who need special attention.

Physical dexterity. Orthotists and prosthetists must be good at working with their hands. They may fabricate orthotics or prosthetics with intricate mechanical parts.

Physical stamina. Orthotists and prosthetists should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as working with shop equipment and hand tools. They may spend a lot of time bending over or crouching to examine or measure patients.

Problem-solving skills. Orthotists and prosthetists must evaluate their patients’ situations and often look for creative solutions to their rehabilitation needs.

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Highest Certified Orthotist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Certified Orthotist Medsupply Corporation Inc. Troy, MI Mar 18, 2012 $90,000
Certified Orthotist Horizon Prosthetics, LLC Colorado Springs, CO Dec 15, 2014 $80,000
Certified Orthotist Hanger, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Feb 01, 2015 $74,460
Certified Orthotist Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Feb 01, 2012 $55,000

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Top Skills for A Certified Orthotist

  1. Patient Care
  2. AFO
  3. Dynamic Alignments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided excellent patient care by exceeding expectations and developing relationships.
  • Lower extremity bracing ots and custom AFO, KAFO and HKAFO.
  • Perform fitting, including static and dynamic alignments.
  • Maintain close personal contact with Physician, Physician Assistants, Physical Therapists, and office personnel.
  • Examine and evaluate patient's needs in relation to disease and functional loss.

Certified Orthotist Demographics

Gender

Male

60.0%

Female

32.0%

Unknown

8.0%
Ethnicity

White

69.6%

Hispanic or Latino

12.5%

Black or African American

8.2%

Asian

5.6%

Unknown

4.0%
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Certified Orthotist Education

Schools

Eastern Michigan University

14.8%

Median School of Allied Health Careers

7.4%

Northwestern University

7.4%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

7.4%

Wake Technical Community College

7.4%

Saint Petersburg College

3.7%

Kennebec Valley Community College

3.7%

University of West Florida

3.7%

Oakland University

3.7%

Oakland Community College

3.7%

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

3.7%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3.7%

Moraine Valley Community College

3.7%

Lyon College

3.7%

Troy University

3.7%

Arizona State University

3.7%

Grossmont College

3.7%

Truman State University

3.7%

University of Iowa

3.7%

University of Wisconsin Extension

3.7%
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Majors

Biology

12.1%

Biomedical Engineering

9.1%

Special Education

9.1%

Occupational Safety And Health

6.1%

Mental Health Counseling

6.1%

Occupational Therapy

6.1%

Kinesiology

6.1%

Nursing

6.1%

Rehabilitation Science

6.1%

Management

3.0%

Public Health

3.0%

Medical Technician

3.0%

Sociology

3.0%

Medicine

3.0%

Graphic Communications

3.0%

Psychology

3.0%

Mechanical Engineering

3.0%

Fine Arts

3.0%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

3.0%

Social Sciences

3.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.5%

Masters

27.9%

Other

18.6%

Associate

9.3%

Certificate

4.7%
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Updated May 19, 2020