Orthotic and Prosthetic Technicians
Approximately 14,130 orthotic and prosthetic technicians are employed in the United States. Typical employers of prosthetic and orthotic technicians include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, private brace and limb companies, and the Veterans Health Administration.
With only about 10 schools in the country offering an orthotic and prosthetic technician educational program, these small number of graduates have a 100 percent employment rate. Employment is greatly improved by the willingness to relocate. Orthotic and prosthetic associations will have valuable advice and information about employers that they can share with students about to graduate.
If you have no prior experience and want to enter a supervised training program, you should contact hospitals, private brace and limb companies, and rehabilitation centers to inquire about programs. You might also search online employment Web sites and local newspapers for entry-level job openings in the field.
In some large orthotics and prosthetics departments in hospitals or rehabilitation centers, it is common to advance to the position of orthotic or prosthetic assistant after you have acquired enough experience. Another form of advancement might be specialization in a certain aspect of the work. In some cases, the experienced and skilled technician might be able to move into a supervisory position.
In general, however, significant advancement is open only to those who pursue additional training and education. With additional education and by meeting prescribed training requirements, technicians can become certified orthotists, certified prosthetists, or certified prosthetist-orthotists. Becoming an orthotist or prosthetist requires a four-year degree in orthotics or prosthetics or completion of a one-year certificate course program.
Technicians working for the Veterans Health Administration or other state or federal agencies will find that advancement is conducted according to civil service rules and procedures.
Tips for Entry
Visit https://ncope.org/students/schools to get a list of schools with educational programs accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education.
Get certified through the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics. Guidelines for certification and an application are available online at https://www.abcop.org/individual-certification/Pages/default.aspx.
To job shadow a professional in the field, go to http://www.opcareers.org. On the homepage there is a link to "Talk to an O&P Professional in Your Area." These individuals will answer your questions or provide an opportunity to come in and see them at work.