Orthotist Vs. Podiatrist

While orthotists and podiatrists both provide medical care, their fields have several differences. We'll examine the respective salaries, employment growth, training and job duties of these two careers.

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Comparing Orthotists to Podiatrists

Orthotists and podiatrists both work in healthcare but their responsibilities and objectives differ. While podiatrists may refer patients to orthotists, orthotists are not qualified to diagnose patients; they fulfill the treatment requirements determined by podiatrists and other doctors. Podiatrists need more education than orthotists and podiatrists earn almost twice as much as orthotists do.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Orthotists Master's degree $65,630 (orthotists and prosthetists) 22% (orthotists and prosthetists)
Podiatrists Medical degree $124,830 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Orthotists vs. Podiatrists

Orthotists see patients who are referred to them because they need to have a supportive device made. They may review the prescription and gather the relevant data and construct the device or they may monitor technicians who construct the medical equipment for patients. Podiatrists are medical doctors and they are qualified to diagnose patients who are having issues with their feet or the lower part of their leg. They can determine how to treat the patient's condition and prescribe medication or decide if the patient needs an assistive device.


Orthotists help produce medical devices such as braces. Their objective is to construct equipment that can help a person function as normally as possible by providing physical support to parts of their body. They benefit from having good communication skills to effectively interact with patients and they also need to pay attention to detail so that they get all pertinent information they need for their work. Some work in hospitals while others work for medical manufacturing companies or health stores.

Job responsibilities of an orthotist include:

  • Communicating with patients about their medical needs
  • Gathering relevant information such as measurements
  • Determining what the device should be constructed from
  • Teaching patients how to use the device
  • Performing repairs on devices
  • Overseeing medical appliance technicians


Podiatrists specialize in treating medical issues that people are having with their feet. Most podiatrists work in medical offices with other healthcare professionals. Those who work in an office environment may work some evening and weekend hours in addition to regular daytime shifts while those who work in hospitals may work any time of the day or night. Podiatrists also treat conditions involving the lower part of a person's leg or their ankles. They should be compassionate and have good interpersonal skills since their work can involve seeing the same patients several times and they also need to be able to communicate effectively with their patients so that they are aware of all of the patient's symptoms.

Job responsibilities of a podiatrist include:

  • Evaluating patients
  • Explaining treatment options to patients
  • Writing prescriptions for medication
  • Operating on patients
  • Educating patients about their condition
  • Determining if patients need to see other medical professionals

Related Careers

Since both orthotists and biomedical engineers make medical products, aspiring orthotists may be interested in learning more about how that career compares to the role of a biomedical engineer. Aspiring podiatrists may also be interested in learning about what orthopedic physical therapists do since orthopedic physical therapists also diagnose and treat patients.

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