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Career Definition for an Orthotic Technician
Orthotic technicians work with podiatrists and other medical professionals to create, customize, and fit orthotic braces and devices that help patients ambulate effectively. They often work in medical centers, like hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, where they customize, fit, and monitor orthotic devices to make sure they fit the clients' unique needs, making changes as necessary to the devices.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or bachelor's degree in a subject related to prosthetics or orthotics|
|Job Duties||Creating, customizing, fitting and monitoring orthotic braces and other devices for effective ambulation|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$37,190 (for all medical appliance technicians)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||14% (for all medical appliance technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Most jobs in orthotic technology require a 2-year associate degree or a 4-year bachelor's degree in a field related to prosthetics or orthotics from an accredited school. Students interested in pursuing a career in orthotic technology should take courses like anatomy, mathematics, computer science, and machine shop. While not required, employers may also prefer that orthotist technicians are certified. Certification is available through the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics to professionals who meet the eligibility requirements and pass an exam.
Orthotic technicians need to be able to solve problems independently and must possess a great deal of manual dexterity. They should also be effective communicators and need to have the ability to closely follow detailed directions and operate complex equipment.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), there is above-average job growth of 14% expected for all medical appliance technician jobs between 2016 and 2026. Increased limb loss caused by cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as technological advancements leading to the replacement of older orthotic devices are expected to create some job growth in the field. The median annual wage for medical appliance technicians was reported as $37,190 by the BLS in May 2017.
Alternate Career Options
If you are looking for an alternative career options, the following might interest you:
Orthotist and Prosthetist
Much faster than average employment growth of 22% is projected by the BLS, from 2016-2026, for these professionals who design medical support devices, such as artificial limbs and braces, and also measure and fit patient for those devices. A master's degree and certification is required, including a 1-year residency. In 2017, the BLS reported an annual median salary of $66,240.
Medical Equipment Repairer
Normally an associate's degree in engineering or biomedical technology is required to enter this profession, although some learn the skills on the job and others may need bachelor's degrees, depending on the area of specialization. These repairers earned median annual earnings of $48,820 in 2017, while installing, repairing and maintaining patient care equipment. During the 2016-2026 decade, slower than average job growth of 4% was forecast by the BLS for medical equipment repairers.