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Become A Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist

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Working As A Certified Prosthetist/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

  • $88,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Certified Prosthetist/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 Prosthetist/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 Prosthetist/Orthotist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist Michigan Orthopedic Services Livonia, MI Aug 05, 2009 $80,000
Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist Wright & Filippis, Inc. Rochester Hills, MI Apr 27, 2016 $73,798
Certified Prosthetist/Ortotist Orthopro of Reno, Inc. Reno, NV Jan 04, 2016 $60,000
Certified Prosthetist/Ortotist Ortho Pro of Reno Reno, NV Jan 04, 2016 $60,000
Certified Orthotist/Prosthetist Hanger, Inc. Washington, DC Mar 15, 2016 $59,779 -
$90,000
Certified Prothetist and Orthotist Total Contact Medical Inc. Santa Fe Springs, CA Oct 09, 2016 $50,000

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Top Skills for A Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist

  1. Patient Care
  2. Compliance Efforts
  3. Functional Loss
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Handled all aspects of clinical and technical patient care services.
  • Analyzed and implemented new technology and compliance efforts.
  • Examine and evaluate patient's needs in relation to disease and functional loss.
  • Establish and maintain professional relationships with medical professionals to boost patient referrals.
  • Develop and implement quantitative tests for patient mobility and prosthetic outcomes to increase reimbursement rates.

Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist Demographics

Gender

Male

63.0%

Female

33.3%

Unknown

3.7%
Ethnicity

White

62.9%

Hispanic or Latino

12.5%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

10.2%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist Education

Schools

Eastern Michigan University

9.1%

University of Pittsburgh -

9.1%

New York University

4.5%

Saint Petersburg College

4.5%

University of West Florida

4.5%

Ramapo College of New Jersey

4.5%

Towson University

4.5%

Western New England College

4.5%

California Lutheran University

4.5%

Northwestern University

4.5%

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

4.5%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

4.5%

Arizona State University

4.5%

Diablo Valley College

4.5%

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

4.5%

North Iowa Area Community College

4.5%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

4.5%

Florida International University

4.5%

Spelman College

4.5%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

4.5%
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Majors

Kinesiology

20.8%

Mechanical Engineering

12.5%

Biomedical Engineering

8.3%

Human Development

4.2%

Psychology

4.2%

Business

4.2%

Physics

4.2%

Public Health

4.2%

Mental Health Counseling

4.2%

Plant Sciences

4.2%

Health Sciences And Services

4.2%

Occupational Therapy

4.2%

Sociology

4.2%

Medical Assisting Services

4.2%

Political Science

4.2%

Legal Support Services

4.2%

Chemistry

4.2%
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Degrees

Masters

37.5%

Bachelors

33.3%

Other

20.8%

Doctorate

4.2%

Associate

4.2%
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