Medical appliance technicians use a variety of materials to create medical products like prosthetics, orthotics and braces. Typical education requirements for this profession include a high school diploma or its equivalent plus on-the-job training.
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Medical appliance technicians create medical and surgical appliances like braces, joints, supports and artificial limbs. By following specific directions from healthcare professionals, medical appliance technicians help patients in need of these special devices. Limited educational programs are available for specific medical appliance technician specializations, and most education is done with job training.
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training; voluntary certifications available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||11%|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$39,020|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Medical Appliance Technician Education
This position requires a high school diploma; however, most medical appliance technician education is acquired through job training. Job training education pairs trainees with professional medical appliance technicians who teach the steps and procedures involved in the creation of medical devices. Medical appliance technicians specializing in orthotics and prosthetics can find associate's degree programs and certificate programs at a few schools across the United States. These schools are accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (www.ncope.org).
High school students interested in this career should focus on taking health, communication and science classes. While there are very few actual medical appliance technical classes available at the college level, a limited number of schools do offer orthotic and prosthetic technician courses. Classes for medical appliance technicians working in orthotics and prosthetics include pathophysiology, health science research methods, prosthetics studies and anatomy.
Different specializations are available for medical appliance technicians to choose from, such as working with braces or prosthetics. Licenses are not required of medical appliance technicians, although voluntary certifications are available from the American Board for Certified in Orthotics and Prosthetics (www.abcop.org). Certification is possible after two years of work experience or through the completion of an educational program accredited by NCOPE. Medical appliance technicians should possess good manual dexterity and a keen eye for detail.
Based upon detailed requirements for the product, medical appliance technicians make a plaster cast of the area a patient needs a device for, such as a leg, arm or joint. Along with the patient's cast, the medical appliance technician uses digital scans of the patient's body to create the needed product. Using techniques like welding, carving, grinding or cutting, these technicians work plastic or other crafting materials into the desired shape and form. The medical appliance technicians creates and applies requested cosmetic covers or certain colors before sending it off to the patient.
A career as a medical appliance technician can be a great fit for someone who is interested in both the healthcare industry and in technology. According to the BLS, there should be plenty of career opportunities in this field over the next decade, as jobs are expected to grow faster than average.