Registered Orthopedic Technologist: Job Duties and Requirements

Registered orthopedic technologists require little formal education. Get a quick view of the schooling, job duties, and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

In addition to having at least a high school diploma, you also need to receive certification in order to become a registered orthopedic technologist. Some job duties include helping patients get measured for crutches, preparing or removing casts and keeping track of patient progress.

Essential Information

Orthopedic technologists are health care professionals who assist orthopedic surgeons in the operating room and specialize in splinting, casting, and bracing of bone and musculoskeletal injuries. Registered orthopedic technologists (ROTs) have earned a professional title by passing the American Society of Orthopedic Professionals examination.

Required Education High school diploma or orthopedic technology program
Other Requirements Voluntary certification
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024) 16% for all health technicians and technologists*
Median Annual Salary (2016) $38,659 for all orthopedic technicians**

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Job Duties

The job duties of a registered orthopedic technologist often include fitting patients for crutches, leg braces, walkers, or canes. They may also apply, adjust, and repair splints, prosthesis, and braces. Some registered orthopedic technologists may have additional administrative duties and be responsible for supervising orthopedic technologists who are not registered or certified. ROTs are also responsible for documenting patients' progress.

Some orthopedic technologists work with an orthopedic surgeon in the operating room. They prepare patients for surgical procedures as directed by the surgeon and may serve as a first or second assistant. They may also change dressings and remove staples, sutures, Steinmann pins, and K-wires, and may be required to look for fractures or other injuries on X-rays or other scans.

Many ROTs also prepare plaster and synthetic casts for patients. They then educate patients about the care, upkeep, and dangers of these types of casts. Other duties may include removing casts, measuring patients for devices, and testing these devices with the patient.

Requirements to Be a Registered Orthopedic Technologist

According to the National Association of Orthopedic Technologists (NAOT), the minimum educational requirement for an orthopedic technologist is a high school diploma or its equivalent (www.naot.org). However, some employers may prefer to hire technologists who have completed a formal education program; completing an approved program is required for some industry certifications as well. Orthopedic technology programs are available from several vocational schools and community colleges; allied health programs, such as nursing, surgical technology, or radiologic technology may also prepare one for this career. These programs typically include classes in anatomy, physiology, basic nursing principals, and medical terminology.

Registration and Certification

The American Society of Orthopedic Professionals (ASOP) is a professional organization that promotes continuing education for all medical professionals in the field of orthopedics (www.asop.org). Passing the voluntary ASOP examination and meeting its practical requirements allows one to use the title of Registered Orthopedic Technologist (ROT).

Voluntary certification is also available from the National Board of Certification for Orthopedic Technologists (NBCOT). NBCOT offers two exams, the Orthopaedic Technologist Certified (OTC) and the Orthopaedic Technologist Surgery Certification (OT-SC). The OT-SC is for orthopedic technologists who will be working directly under the supervision of an orthopedic surgeon in the operating room. Other orthopedic technologists take the OTC (www.nbcot.net).

The National Association of Orthopedic Technologists also offers several levels of certification for orthopedic technologists. NAOT members are required to have at least one year of experience in a hospital or clinical setting working with orthopedic patients for the entry-level certification. Level 2 and Level 3 certifications require more work experience, advanced education and certification from NBCOT.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

PayScale.com reported in January 2016 that the median salary earned by orthopedic technicians, whose job duties are similar to those of orthopedic technologists, was $38,659. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) expects that the employment of all health technicians and technologists will grow by about 16% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS does not report statistics specific to orthopedic technologists.

While some employers only require a high school diploma and certification, others require a basic educational background in an orthopedic technologist program. There are several levels of certification, with the higher ones requiring a certain level of both education and hands-on experience.


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