Certified Orthopedic Technician: Certification Requirements

Sep 23, 2019

Certification or licensure is required in some states for orthopedic technicians. Get some quick facts about the training and experience necessary to qualify for orthopedic technician certification.

Orthopedic technicians work with orthopedists to help patients with orthopedic problems and needs. They conduct patient assessments and provide patient education. Orthopedic technicians are typically required to have an associate's or vocational degree.

Essential Information

Orthopedic technicians assist orthopedic physicians in the treatment of injuries to bones and surrounding ligaments and tendons. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most healthcare technicians require vocational certificates or associate's degrees in their fields of specialty, which in this case would be orthopedic technology. Certification options for orthopedic technicians include the Orthopedic Technologist Certified (OTC) or Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certified (OT-SC) designations. Licensure requirements for surgical technologists vary by state, and each state may have different licensure or certification protocols for orthopedic technicians.

Required Education Associate's degree or vocational degree
Required Experience Varies by certification; completion of a specified amount of work experience is common
Required Skills Patient assessment, surgery assistance, casting, bracing, splinting
Exam Requirements Certification exams are available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) Health technologists and technicians: 10%*
Median Salary (2019) Orthopedic technicians: $43,638**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ,**PayScale.com.

Certification Requirements to Become a Certified Orthopedic Technician

Orthopedic technicians, also known as orthopedic technologists, can receive certification from the National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Technologists (NBCOT). The NBCOT administers both the Orthopedic Technologist Certified (OTC) and the Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certified (OT-SC) designations. Exams cover areas such as injury assessment, casting and traction procedures, and surgery assistance.

Orthopedic Technologist Certified Option

Applicants for the OTC can qualify to sit for the certification exam in a variety of ways. Individuals can apply after gaining two years of relevant work experience, completing an accredited orthopedic technologist education program, or obtaining certification as an athletic trainer and having six months of relevant work experience. All OTCs must obtain recertification every six years by retesting or completing 120 continuing education units.

Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certified Option

Another certification option for orthopedic technicians is the Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certification (OT-SC). To qualify, an applicant must hold an OTC certification and have one year of relevant work experience. Like the OTC, OT-SC recertification is required every six years and requires retesting or the completion of 120 continuing education units. Additionally, OT-SC applicants for recertification must maintain their current OTC certification.

Continuing Education Requirements

Continuing education units are earned for every hour spent in a classroom, clinical environment, or any other similarly organized professional seminar, workshop or conference that addresses orthopedic technology topics. A limited number of credits can also be earned for authoring publications, giving presentations related to orthopedic technology, or submitting certification exam questions to NBCOT. OT-SC recertification must also include a limited number of credits that address topics related to orthopedic surgical procedures.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS doesn't report data specifically for orthopedic technicians, but it does note that employment of health technicians and technologists in general is expected to increase 10% between 2018 and 2028, a rate that is faster than average. According to PayScale.com, orthopedic technicians earned median salaries of $43,638 in September 2019.

Orthopedic technicians support orthopedic physicians who treat injuries to bones, ligaments, and tendons. In addition to an associate's or vocational degree, orthopedic technicians can receive certification from the National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Technologists (NBCOT). They can also obtain Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certification (OT-SC) for career advancement.

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