Orthotic Fitter: Job Description & Requirements

Mar 18, 2019

Find out what an orthotic fitter, or medical appliance technician, does. Read about the training, in addition to the salary and employment outlook, to see if this is the right job for you.

Career Definition for an Orthotic Fitter

Orthotic fitters make sure that medical braces, prosthetic limbs, arch supports, and other medical devices properly fit patients by using equipment to help mold and alter the devices to the patients' specifications. They monitor the patients over time and make any necessary changes to the devices to keep them in good condition.

Required Education Entry-level jobs require a high school diploma; an associate degree or certification will improve career advancement opportunities
Job Duties Include ensuring medical braces, prosthetic limbs, arch supports, and other medical devices fit properly; monitoring patients over time; and making changes to devices as needed
Median Salary (2017)* $37,190 (for all medical appliance technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 13% growth (for all dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

While only a high school diploma is required for most entry-level orthotic fitting jobs, an associate degree or certification from the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education is helpful for those who want to advance within the field. Employers often train entry-level orthotic fitters and only require them to have a high school diploma when they are hired, but an increasing number of job applicants now have two-year associate degrees from community colleges or certification from a program accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education. Students interested in becoming orthotic fitters should take classes like machine shop, drafting, anatomy, physiology, and prosthetics.

Skills Needed

Orthotic fitters need to have a great degree of manual dexterity and should be able to closely follow detailed instructions. They also need strong communication skills and must be able to operate complex machinery.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 13% job growth for dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians, including orthotic fitters, between 2016 and 2026 due to technological advancements that allow for more functional and realistic prosthetic equipment. The BLS states that the median salary for medical appliance technicians, including orthotic fitters, was $37,190 in May 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Those interested in designing medical supportive devices, in addition to measuring and fitting patients for them, might look into this career. The required education includes a master's degree and certification with a 1-year residency. Employment for these professionals was predicted by the BLS to increase by 22%, from 2016-2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. As of May 2017, orthotists and prosthetists earned a median annual wage of $66,240, according to the BLS.

Medical Equipment Repairer

Commonly earning associate degrees in engineering or biomedical technology, these repairers who repair, install, and maintain medical equipment sometimes need bachelor's degrees for certain specializations. The BLS predicted slower-than-average job growth of 4% for this career during the 2016-2026 decade. Medical equipment repairers earned an annual median salary of $48,820 in 2017, the BLS reported.

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