Most general prosthetist practitioners, or prosthetists, hold 4-year bachelor's or 2-year master's degrees in the field. A high school diploma or equivalent is the prerequisite for the former; admission to the latter requires a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field. Requirements include a one-year residency program from an institution accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE), as well as a project at the master's level.
Bachelor of Applied Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics
A bachelor's degree program in prosthetics and orthotics introduces students to the basic skills associated with the work of a prosthetist. General education classes are required, along with core degree-related topics such as:
- Gait analysis
- Transtibial prosthetics
Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics
A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics is a 2-year graduate degree program that offers students advanced study and research opportunities. Courses may address topics such as:
- Transfemoral prosthetics
- Lower limb orthotics
- Spinal orthotics
Licenses and Certifications
Prosthetists can pursue certification through The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC). This requires completion of a bachelor's degree in prosthetics from an institution with accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Students who hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field can pursue a CAAHEP-accredited post-graduate orthotics or prosthetics certificate. A 12-month residency and written examinations are also required for this professional certification. In order to maintain certification, prosthetists are required to complete 75 hours of continuing education every five years.
A variety of workshops and continuing education classes are available to professionals working in the field of prosthetics. Advances in prosthetic technology, which are common, may be addressed in such seminars. Other topics may be covered in professional workshops, including prosthetics cost control and extended patient care, as well as tips on how to help patients adjust to life with a prosthesis. Courses on subjects such as upper extremity prosthetics and exercise physiology for rehabilitation might be available at local colleges or health organizations.
Those seeking careers in the field of prosthetics can pursue bachelor's and master's degree programs in the field. Coupled with the required certification, graduates can have successful careers as prosthetists.