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Podiatrist: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

As foot and ankle specialists, many podiatrists work in sports medicine and frequently refer their patients to physical therapists. Learn about the education and skills requirements, along with the salary and outlook information, to see if this career is a good fit for you.

Career Definition of a Podiatrist

Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in the treatment of feet and ankles. They work with patients to prevent injuries and diagnose and heal existing injuries. Podiatry involves taking x-rays, setting fractures and treating other injuries, as well as prescribing physical therapy and medication.

Education Completion of podiatric medical school plus 2-4 year residency program
Job Skills Good communication skills, and willingness to work on an on-call basis
Median Salary (2017)* $127,740
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 10% job growth

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Podiatrists have earned Doctorates in Podiatric Medicine (DPMs). Entry into 4-year DPM programs typically requires a bachelor's degree with a pre-med or science major, like biology, chemistry or a related field, and acceptable scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The American Podiatric Medicine Association (www.apma.org) lists eight colleges that offer accredited DPM programs. After graduating from one of these programs, podiatrists enter 2- to 4-year residencies before beginning practice.

Skills Required

Podiatrists confront fewer emergency situations than many other doctors, but they still must be willing to work on an on-call basis at times. Good communications and people skills will ensure that aspiring podiatrists will work well with patients, other specialists and medical office staff.

Career and Economic Outlook

Over the 2016-2026 decade, the demand for podiatrists is expected to increase by 10%, faster than average compared to other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Growth in the elderly population is expected to be one cause for this, as well as the fact that more people have chronic conditions affecting the ankles and feet.

In May of 2017, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for podiatrists was $127,740. Podiatrists working in physicians' offices had the highest median wages, of $175,510.

Alternate Career Options

Other careers in this field to consider include:

Orthotist and Prosthetist

These professionals earn a master's degree in this field and fulfill a 1-year residency for certification. Duties include designing, measuring and fitting patients with medical supportive devices, such as braces and artificial limbs. The demand for orthotists and prosthetists was anticipated by the BLS to be much faster than the average, with 22% growth predicted from 2016-2026. In 2017, the BLS reported their annual median salary as $66,240.

Chiropractor

Those interested in treating patients with neuromusculoskeletal problems through spinal manipulation and other techniques will complete a 4-year professional degree on top of their undergraduate education to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and state licensure. The BLS revealed an annual median wage of $68,640, for chiropractors in 2017, and projected a faster than average jump in positions of 12% from 2016 through 2026.


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