Podiatrists

Summary

podiatrists image
Podiatrists provide medical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems.
Quick Facts: Podiatrists
2014 Median Pay $120,700 per year
$58.03 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Internship/residency
Number of Jobs, 2014 9,600
Job Outlook, 2014-24 14% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 1,400

What Podiatrists Do

Podiatrists provide medical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. They diagnose illnesses, treat injuries, and perform surgery involving the lower extremities.

Work Environment

Most podiatrists work in offices of podiatry, either on their own or with other podiatrists. Some work in group practices with other physicians or specialists. Others work in private and public hospitals and outpatient care centers.

How to Become a Podiatrist

Podiatrists must earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and complete a 3-year residency program. Every state requires podiatrists to be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for podiatrists was $120,700 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of podiatrists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Continued growth in the demand for medical and surgical care of the foot and ankle will stem from the aging population. Podiatrists will also be needed to treat patients with foot and ankle conditions caused by chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for podiatrists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of podiatrists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about podiatrists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Podiatrists Do

Podiatrists
Podiatrists treat common foot and ankle ailments as well as perform more complicated surgeries.

Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. They diagnose illnesses, treat injuries, and perform surgery involving the lower extremities.

Duties

Podiatrists typically do the following:

  • Assess the condition of a patient’s feet, ankles, or lower legs by reviewing his or her medical history, listening to the patient’s concerns, and performing a physical examination
  • Diagnose foot, ankle, and lower leg problems through physical exams, x rays, medical laboratory tests, and other methods
  • Provide treatment for foot, ankle, and lower leg ailments, such as prescribing special shoe inserts (orthotics) to improve a patient’s mobility
  • Perform foot and ankle surgeries, such as removing bone spurs, fracture repairs, and correcting other foot and ankle deformities
  • Advise and instruct patients on foot and ankle care and on general wellness techniques
  • Prescribe medications
  • Coordinate patient care with other physicians
  • Refer patients to other physicians or specialists if they detect larger health problems, such as diabetes
  • Conduct research, read journals, and attend conferences to keep up with advances in podiatric medicine and surgery

Podiatrists treat a variety of foot and ankle ailments, including calluses, ingrown toenails, heel spurs, arthritis, congenital foot and ankle deformities, and arch problems. They also treat foot and leg problems associated with diabetes and other diseases. Some podiatrists spend most of their time performing advanced surgery, such as foot and ankle reconstruction. Others may choose a specialty such as sports medicine or pediatrics.

Podiatrists who own their practice may spend time on business-related activities, such as hiring employees and managing inventory.

Work Environment

Podiatrists
Patients with diabetes may develop foot problems that require the care of a podiatrist.

Podiatrists held about 9,600 jobs in 2014.

Most podiatrists work in offices of podiatry, either on their own or with other podiatrists. Some work in group practices with other physicians or specialists. Others work in private and public hospitals and outpatient care centers. Podiatrists may work closely with physicians and surgeons, registered nurses, and medical assistants.

Work Schedules

Most podiatrists work full time. Podiatrists’ offices may be open in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients. In hospitals, podiatrists may have to work occasional nights or weekends, or may be on call.

How to Become a Podiatrist

Podiatrists
Podiatrists listen to patients’ concerns about their feet, ankles, or lower legs.

Podiatrists must earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and complete a 3-year residency program. Every state requires podiatrists to be licensed.

Education

Podiatrists must have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine. A DPM degree program takes 4 years to complete. In 2014, there were 9 colleges of podiatric medicine accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education.

Admission to podiatric medicine programs requires at least 3 years of undergraduate education, including specific courses in laboratory sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as general coursework in subjects such as English. In practice, nearly all prospective podiatrists earn a bachelor’s degree before attending a college of podiatric medicine. Admission to DPM programs usually requires taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Courses for a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree are similar to those for other medical degrees. They include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology among other subjects. During their last 2 years, podiatric medical students gain supervised experience by completing clinical rotations.

Training

After earning a DPM, podiatrists must apply to and complete a 3-year podiatric medical and surgical residency (PMSR) program. Residency programs take place in hospitals and provide both medical and surgical experience. They may do additional training in specific fellowship areas, such as sports medicine or pediatrics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Podiatrists in every state must be licensed. Podiatrists must pay a fee and pass the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam (APMLE), offered by the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners. Some states also require podiatrists to take a state-specific exam.

Many podiatrists choose to become board certified. Certification generally requires a combination of work experience and passing an exam from the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, the American Board of Podiatric Medicine, or the American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Since podiatrists provide care for patients who may be in pain, they must be able to treat patients with compassion and understanding.

Critical-thinking skills. Podiatrists must have a sharp, analytical mind to correctly diagnose a patient and determine the best course of treatment.

Detail oriented. To provide safe, effective healthcare, a podiatrist should be detail oriented. For example, a podiatrist must pay attention to a patient’s medical history as well as current conditions when diagnosing a problem.

Interpersonal skills. Because podiatrists spend much of their time interacting with patients, they should be able to listen well and communicate effectively. For example, they should be able to tell a patient who is slated to undergo surgery what to expect and calm his or her fears.

Pay

Podiatrists

Median annual wages, May 2014

Podiatrists

$120,700

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners

$75,430

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for podiatrists was $120,700 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $187,200.

Most podiatrists work full time. Podiatrists’ offices may be open in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients. In hospitals, podiatrists may have to work occasional nights or weekends, or may be on call.

Job Outlook

Podiatrists

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners

17%

Podiatrists

14%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of podiatrists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,400 new jobs over the 10-year period.

As the U.S. population both ages and increases, the number of people expected to have mobility and foot-related problems will rise. Growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, also may limit mobility of those with these conditions, and lead to problems such as poor circulation in the feet and lower extremities. More podiatrists will be needed to provide care for these patients.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for trained podiatrists should be good given that there are a limited number of colleges of podiatry. In addition, the retirement of currently practicing podiatrists in the coming years is expected to increase the number of job openings for podiatrists.

Employment projections data for podiatrists, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Podiatrists

29-1081 9,600 11,000 14 1,400 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of podiatrists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Chiropractors

Chiropractors

Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, and other techniques to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain.

Doctoral or professional degree $66,720
Occupational therapists

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.

Master's degree $78,810
Optometrists

Optometrists

Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.

Doctoral or professional degree $101,410
Orthotists and prosthetists

Orthotists and Prosthetists

Orthotists and prosthetists design and fabricate medical supportive devices and measure and fit patients for them. These devices include artificial limbs (arms, hands, legs, and feet), braces, and other medical or surgical devices.

Master's degree $64,040
Physical therapists

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of the rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Doctoral or professional degree $82,390
Physicians and surgeons

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $187,200 per year.
Dentists

Dentists

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

Doctoral or professional degree $154,640

Contacts for More Information

For more information about podiatrists, visit

American Podiatric Medical Association

For information on colleges of podiatric medicine and their entrance requirements, curricula, and student financial aid, visit

American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine

For a list of accredited podiatric programs and residency programs, visit

Council on Podiatric Medical Education

For more information about the podiatric licensing exam, visit

American Podiatric Medical Licensing Association

For more information about board certification, visit

American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery

American Board of Podiatric Medicine

American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry

O*NET

Podiatrists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Podiatrists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/podiatrists.htm (visited February 10, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015