How to Become an Orthotist or Prosthetist

How to Become an Orthotist or Prosthetist

If you are interested in a career that combines scientific knowledge, technical skills, and a passion for helping others, becoming an orthotist or prosthetist may be the perfect choice for you. Orthotists and prosthetists are healthcare professionals who design, fit, and provide artificial limbs, braces, and other orthopedic devices to patients in need. In this step-by-step guide, we will outline the educational and licensing requirements, as well as the necessary skills and personality traits needed to excel in this rewarding field.

To become an orthotist or prosthetist, you will typically need to complete a postsecondary degree program in orthotics and prosthetics. These programs are offered at colleges and universities and usually take around 4 years to complete. The curriculum includes a combination of coursework in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and materials science, as well as hands-on clinical experience.



After completing your degree, you will need to apply for a residency program. Residency programs provide aspiring orthotists and prosthetists with the opportunity to gain practical, supervised experience in a clinical setting. During your residency, you will work under the guidance of experienced practitioners, learning how to assess patients’ needs, design and fabricate orthotic and prosthetic devices, and provide ongoing care and maintenance.

Once you have completed your residency, you will need to obtain a license to practice as an orthotist or prosthetist. The specific licensing requirements vary by state, but they typically include passing a national certification examination. The examination is administered by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (ABC) and covers topics such as patient assessment, device design and fabrication, and ethical and legal considerations.

In addition to passing the examination, most states also require orthotists and prosthetists to have a certain number of hours of clinical experience and to meet certain criteria, such as having a clean criminal record. Some states also require orthotists and prosthetists to earn continuing education credits to maintain their license.

Once you have obtained your license, you can begin practicing as an orthotist or prosthetist. You will work closely with patients to assess their needs, design and fabricate custom orthotic and prosthetic devices, and provide ongoing care and support. Your work will involve a combination of scientific knowledge, technical skills, and a compassionate and patient-centered approach.



The median salary for orthotists and prosthetists was $68,410 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and the type of practice. Orthotists and prosthetists who work in specialized fields, such as pediatric orthotics or advanced prosthetics, may earn higher salaries.

In summary, becoming an orthotist or prosthetist requires completing a postsecondary degree program, completing a residency, obtaining a license, and meeting the necessary criteria set by your state. It is a rewarding career that allows you to make a positive impact on the lives of patients in need. If you have a passion for science, a knack for technical skills, and a desire to help others, this may be the perfect career choice for you.

Education and Training

To become a licensed orthotist or prosthetist, individuals must complete a formal education and training program. These programs are typically based at a college or university and provide the necessary knowledge and skills needed to work in this specialized field.



Applicants wishing to become an orthotist or prosthetist must first complete a bachelor’s degree. The educational requirements for this degree may vary depending on the specific program and state licensing requirements. However, most programs require coursework in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, math, and other scientific disciplines.

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After completing a bachelor’s degree, individuals can choose to pursue a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics. This advanced degree provides a more specialized and in-depth education in the field. Master’s degree programs typically include coursework in biomechanics, gait analysis, orthotic and prosthetic design, and patient care.

In addition to completing the necessary educational requirements, individuals must also meet certification and licensure criteria. Certification is typically obtained through the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) or the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC). These organizations require individuals to pass a national examination to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in orthotics and prosthetics.

After obtaining certification, individuals must also obtain a state license to practice as an orthotist or prosthetist. The specific licensing requirements vary by state, but typically include completing a clinical residency program and passing a jurisprudence examination.

During a clinical residency, individuals work under the supervision of a licensed practitioner to gain hands-on experience and develop their skills in orthotics and prosthetics. This residency program provides valuable practical training and allows individuals to work with real patients and provide them with the necessary orthotic and prosthetic devices to meet their specific needs.

Overall, the education and training required to become an orthotist or prosthetist is extensive and rigorous. It requires a strong educational background, a desire to help patients, and a special set of skills to create and fit orthotic and prosthetic devices. By completing the necessary educational requirements, obtaining certification, and gaining practical experience through a clinical residency, individuals can become licensed orthotists or prosthetists and provide essential care to patients in need.

How to Become an Orthotist or Prosthetist: Step 3 – Bachelor’s Degree

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree is an essential step in becoming an orthotist or prosthetist. This degree provides the necessary educational foundation for individuals wishing to pursue a career in this field.

Many educational programs offer a bachelor’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics. These programs typically provide a comprehensive curriculum that includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, and materials science. Students also learn about various orthotic and prosthetic devices, their design, and fabrication.

When choosing a bachelor’s degree program, it is important to consider several factors. Firstly, applicants should ensure that the program is accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific educational criteria and prepares students for the national certification exams.

Applicants should also consider the program’s location and whether it provides opportunities for hands-on clinical experience. Clinical experience is crucial for developing the necessary skills and understanding of working with patients in a real-world setting.

Once a suitable bachelor’s degree program has been identified, applicants can begin the application process. This typically involves submitting an application form, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Some programs may also require applicants to complete an interview or entrance exam.

It is important to note that licensing requirements for orthotists and prosthetists vary by state. However, most states require individuals to have completed a bachelor’s degree program and be certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (ABC) or the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC).

The median fee for applying for national certification is around $500. Once licensed, orthotists and prosthetists can start their careers and work with patients in need of orthotic or prosthetic devices.

Overall, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics is a crucial step in becoming a licensed orthotist or prosthetist. This degree provides the necessary educational foundation and prepares individuals for the clinical residency and certification exams that follow.

Master’s Degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics: A Key Step in Becoming a Prosthetist-Orthotist

If you have been considering a career in orthotics and prosthetics, choosing the right education and training path is crucial. One of the key steps in becoming a prosthetist-orthotist is completing a master’s degree program in orthotics and prosthetics.

Orthotists and prosthetists are specialized healthcare professionals who design, fabricate, and fit orthotic and prosthetic devices for individuals with physical disabilities. These devices, such as braces and prosthetic limbs, help people regain mobility and improve their quality of life.

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A master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics is typically a 2-year program that builds upon the foundational knowledge and skills acquired during a bachelor’s degree program. The curriculum includes advanced coursework in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, materials science, and clinical practice.

Applicants to master’s degree programs in orthotics and prosthetics must have completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as biology or kinesiology. Some programs may also require specific prerequisite courses, such as math and science electives.

Once accepted into a master’s degree program, students will undergo comprehensive training in the assessment, design, fabrication, and fitting of orthotic and prosthetic devices. They will learn about different types of materials used in orthotics and prosthetics, as well as the scientific principles behind their function.

Upon completion of the master’s degree program, graduates are eligible to apply for certification and licensure as orthotists and prosthetists. The certification process typically involves passing a national exam and paying a fee. Some states may also require additional criteria, such as a jurisprudence exam, to become licensed.

Obtaining a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics is a significant step towards becoming a certified prosthetist-orthotist. It equips individuals with the necessary knowledge, skills, and credentials to work in this specialized field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for orthotists and prosthetists was $68,410 as of May 2020.

After completing their master’s degree, some individuals may choose to further enhance their skills and expertise by completing a clinical residency. This postgraduate training allows new graduates to gain hands-on experience working with patients under the supervision of experienced professionals.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as an orthotist or prosthetist, it is important to check the specific requirements and licensing regulations in your state. Each state may have its own set of criteria and exams that applicants must fulfill to become certified and licensed.

In summary, a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics is a crucial step in becoming a prosthetist-orthotist. It provides individuals with the necessary education and training to work with orthotic and prosthetic devices, helping individuals with physical disabilities regain mobility and improve their quality of life.

Certification and Licensure

After completing the required education and training, aspiring orthotists and prosthetists must obtain certification and licensure to practice in their respective field. Certification is typically provided by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (ABC). This certification ensures that individuals have met the necessary educational and clinical requirements to provide quality care to patients.

To become certified, individuals must pass a series of exams that test their knowledge and skills in orthotics and prosthetics. These exams cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and the scientific principles behind orthotic and prosthetic devices. It is important for aspiring orthotists and prosthetists to review and study these subjects thoroughly in order to pass the exams.

In addition to certification, orthotists and prosthetists must also obtain a license to practice in their state. Licensing requirements vary by state, so it is important for individuals to check the specific requirements of the state in which they wish to work. Some states may require individuals to complete a certain number of clinical hours or a residency program, while others may have additional educational or exam requirements.

Most states also require orthotists and prosthetists to pass a jurisprudence exam, which tests their knowledge of the laws and regulations governing the practice of orthotics and prosthetics. This exam ensures that individuals understand their professional responsibilities and ethical obligations.

Once all certification and licensing requirements have been met, orthotists and prosthetists can begin working in their chosen field. They may work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practices, or other healthcare settings. Some orthotists and prosthetists may choose to specialize in a specific area, such as upper-limb prosthetics or pediatric orthotics.

The salary of orthotists and prosthetists can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the type of employer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for orthotists and prosthetists was $65,630 in May 2020. However, individuals with more experience and advanced certifications may earn a higher salary.

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In summary, becoming a certified and licensed orthotist or prosthetist requires completing the necessary educational and training requirements, passing exams, and meeting the specific licensing requirements of the state in which one wishes to practice. It is a rewarding career that allows individuals to provide valuable services to those in need of orthotic and prosthetic devices.

Clinical Residency

After completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics, aspiring orthotists and prosthetists must also complete a clinical residency program. This residency program provides hands-on training and practical experience in the field.

During the clinical residency, individuals will work under the supervision of experienced orthotists and prosthetists, gaining valuable skills and knowledge. They will have the opportunity to work with patients, learn how to assess their needs, and provide the appropriate orthotic or prosthetic devices.

The duration of the clinical residency program varies, but it typically lasts for one to two years. During this time, residents will have the chance to work with a variety of patients, including those with upper-limb amputations, lower-limb amputations, and other orthopedic conditions.

Throughout the residency, residents will be required to complete certain rotations and electives to ensure they have a well-rounded understanding of the field. These rotations may include working in a hospital setting, a private practice, or a rehabilitation center.

Upon completion of the clinical residency program, individuals must apply for certification and licensure. The specific requirements vary by state, but typically include passing an examination and paying a fee. Once certified and licensed, orthotists and prosthetists can begin working independently and providing care to patients.

In summary, the clinical residency is a crucial step in becoming a certified orthotist or prosthetist. It provides the necessary hands-on training and experience to ensure individuals are prepared to meet the needs of their patients. This career requires a combination of technical skills, knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and a compassionate personality. By completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree, followed by a clinical residency program, individuals can pursue a rewarding career in orthotics and prosthetics.

FAQ

What are the educational requirements to become an orthotist or prosthetist?

To become an orthotist or prosthetist, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics. This typically takes four years of study at a college or university. Some programs may also require you to complete prerequisite courses in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology.

Can I become an orthotist or prosthetist with a different bachelor’s degree?

While a bachelor’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics is the most common educational path to becoming an orthotist or prosthetist, it is possible to enter the field with a different bachelor’s degree. However, you will still need to complete a master’s degree program in orthotics and prosthetics to gain the necessary knowledge and skills.

How long does it take to complete a master’s degree program in orthotics and prosthetics?

A master’s degree program in orthotics and prosthetics typically takes two years to complete. These programs include both classroom instruction and clinical rotations, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in the field. After completing the program, graduates are eligible to sit for the certification exam to become a certified orthotist or prosthetist.

Are there any certification requirements to become an orthotist or prosthetist?

Yes, to become a certified orthotist or prosthetist, you will need to pass the certification exam administered by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (ABC). This exam tests your knowledge and skills in orthotics and prosthetics, and passing it is a requirement for practicing in many states.

What other qualifications are important to become a successful orthotist or prosthetist?

In addition to the educational requirements and certification, there are several other qualifications that can contribute to success in the field of orthotics and prosthetics. These include strong problem-solving and communication skills, attention to detail, manual dexterity, and the ability to work well with patients of all ages and backgrounds.

What are the educational requirements to become an orthotist or prosthetist?

To become an orthotist or prosthetist, you typically need a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics. Some programs may accept students with a bachelor’s degree in a related field, but a master’s degree is becoming the standard requirement. Additionally, you will need to complete a residency program after completing your degree.

Is it possible to become an orthotist or prosthetist with just a bachelor’s degree?

While some programs may accept students with a bachelor’s degree in a related field, a master’s degree is becoming the standard requirement to become an orthotist or prosthetist. This is because a master’s degree provides more in-depth knowledge and training in orthotics and prosthetics, which is essential for this profession. Additionally, completing a residency program is also necessary after obtaining your degree.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.