Prosthetic Technician: Job Description and Career Information
Learn about what a prosthetic technician does. Read about the education requirements and skills, as well as the expected salary and employment outlook, to see if this is the career for you.
Career Definition for a Prosthetic Technician
Prosthetic technicians use machinery and computer equipment to design, create and customize prosthetic limbs for medical patients using materials such as wood, metal or plastics. They usually cover the prosthetic limbs in rubber or latex and paint them a color similar to that of the patients' skin to make them look more natural. After the prosthetic limbs are created, the prosthetic technicians then test the devices to make sure they function properly and make adjustments when needed.
|Required Education||Usually, an associate's degree or certification from an accredited school; high school diploma as minimum|
|Job Duties||Include using machinery and computer equipment to design, create and customize prosthetic limbs|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$34,890 (all medical appliance technicians)|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||10% growth (all medical appliance technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Prosthetic technicians usually need an associate degree or certification from an accredited institution to find a job, but a number of employers are willing to train applicants as long as they have a high school diploma. Students interested in becoming prosthetic technicians should take courses like wood shop, mechanical engineering, anatomy, physics and chemistry.
Prosthetic technicians must be good at operating machinery such as power tools and need a high level of hand-eye coordination. They should also be able to follow detailed directions very closely and must have good communication skills.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics (www.bls.gov) reports that the median annual wage for orthotists and prosthetists, who usually need master's degrees and mainly design prosthetic limbs and other devices, was about $64,430 while the wage for medical appliance technicians, who mainly repair prosthetic limbs and other devices, was $34,890 in May 2015. Between 2014 and 2024, job growth is expected to be 10% for medical appliance technicians and 23% for orthotists and prosthetists. Since an increasing number of elderly people will need prosthetics, demand will increase for orthotists and prosthetists as well as medical appliance technicians. However, increased manufacturing productivity due to automation will likely slow job growth for medical appliance technicians.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some examples of alternative career options:
Dental Laboratory Technician
Learning most of their skills on the job and working closely with dentists, these techs use molds of patients' teeth to make dentures, crowns and other dental appliances. Ten percent growth was expected in jobs for these technicians, from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The annual median salary for this occupation in 2015 was $37,190, the BLS reported.
Medical Equipment Repairer
Upon earning an associate's degree in engineering or biomedical technology, along with some on-the-job training, these professionals repair, install and maintain patient care equipment. Depending on specializations and quest for advancement, some repairers might need to pursue bachelor's degrees. A much faster than average employment growth of 6% was projected by the BLS, from 2014-2024. Per the BLS, these repairers earned an annual median wage of $46,340 in 2015.