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Orthotists and Prosthetists

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wncQLXXiM00.
Quick Facts: Orthotists and Prosthetists
2023 Median Pay $78,100 per year
$37.55 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Internship/residency
Number of Jobs, 2022 9,500
Job Outlook, 2022-32 15% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 1,500

What Orthotists and Prosthetists Do

Orthotists and prosthetists measure, design, fit, and adapt medical devices, such as supportive braces and artificial limbs, for patients who have disabling conditions.

Work Environment

Orthotists and prosthetists usually work in healthcare settings and in laboratories. Most work full time.

How to Become an Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and prosthetists typically need to complete a master's degree program and residency to enter the occupation. Some states require these workers to be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for orthotists and prosthetists was $78,100 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of orthotists and prosthetists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 800 openings for orthotists and prosthetists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for orthotists and prosthetists.

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Orthotists and Prosthetists Do About this section

Orthotists and prosthetists create devices that allow patients to regain or improve mobility and functionality.
Orthotists and prosthetists create devices that allow patients to regain or improve mobility and functionality.

Orthotists and prosthetists measure, design, fit, and adapt musculoskeletal devices for patients who have disabling conditions. These devices include artificial limbs and orthopedic braces.

Duties

Orthotists and prosthetists typically do the following:

  • Evaluate and interview patients to determine their needs
  • Take measurements or impressions, as needed, for fitting the patient with a brace or artificial limb
  • Select materials to be used for the device
  • Design and fabricate medical supportive devices based on physicians' prescriptions
  • Instruct patients and their families in the use and care of patients' devices
  • Adjust, repair, or replace patients' devices
  • Document care and interactions with patients

These workers may specialize in either orthotics or prosthetics, or they may do both. Orthotists work with patients who need medical devices, such as braces and splints, that provide support to a body part. Prosthetists work with patients who need artificial limbs or other body parts.

Orthotists and prosthetists customize the fit of their patients' medical devices to support individual needs. For example, an orthotist addressing a knee injury may measure the joint's circumference and design a stabilizing brace made of materials such as metal, elastic, and carbon fiber. A prosthetist might take a mold of a patient's arm at the point of amputation to design and fit an artificial limb out of durable plastic and other materials.

Some orthotists and prosthetists construct the devices they design for their patients. Other orthotists and prosthetists supervise the construction of the orthotic or prosthetic devices by medical appliance technicians.

Work Environment About this section

Orthotists and prosthetists interact with patients during assessment and when fitting devices.
Orthotists and prosthetists interact with patients during assessment and when fitting devices.

Orthotists and prosthetists held about 9,500 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of orthotists and prosthetists were as follows:

Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing 33%
Ambulatory healthcare services 29
Health and personal care retailers 13
Federal government, excluding postal service 10
Hospitals; state, local, and private 9

Orthotists and prosthetists work both in healthcare settings and in laboratories. In healthcare offices, they interact with patients during assessment and fitting of a device. In the lab, they may work with tools, such as drills and sanders, to construct or adjust devices. Orthotists and prosthetists collaborate with other healthcare workers, including physicians and surgeons, occupational therapists, and physical therapists.

Injuries and Illnesses

Orthotists and prosthetists may be exposed to safety hazards when working with certain tools or materials. To minimize risks, they take precautions such as wearing eye protection, gloves, and masks.

Work Schedules

Most orthotists and prosthetists work full time.

How to Become an Orthotist and Prosthetist About this section

Orthotists and prosthetists typically need to complete a master's degree program and residency to enter the occupation.
Orthotists and prosthetists typically need to complete a master's degree program and residency to enter the occupation.

Orthotists and prosthetists typically need to complete a master's degree program and residency to enter the occupation. Some states require these workers to be licensed.

Education

To enter the occupation, orthotists and prosthetists typically need a master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics from a program accredited by a professional organization, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Master's degree programs, which typically require a bachelor’s degree to enter, take about 2 years to complete.

Master's degree programs include academic coursework and supervised clinical experience. Applicants to these programs may need to have completed undergraduate coursework in sciences, mathematics, and other subjects. Graduate-level coursework includes topics such as patient assessment, spinal orthotics, and limb prosthetics. In clinical training, students gain experience by working in settings such as hospitals or orthotics and prosthetics clinics.

Training

Following graduation from a master's degree program, candidates typically complete a residency that has been accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Residency programs in either orthotics or prosthetics typically last about 1 year, although they may take longer for candidates who want to specialize in both disciplines.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require orthotists and prosthetists to be licensed. Requirements vary; contact your state's licensing board for more information.

Employers usually prefer to hire candidates with certification that indicates their competency in the occupation. Certification typically requires that candidates meet education requirements to sit for exams and complete continuing education requirements to maintain it.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Orthotists and prosthetists work with patients who may have experienced injury or illness. They must be understanding and sympathetic in their interactions with these patients.

Communication skills. Orthotists and prosthetists must be able to explain to patients how to use and care for their medical devices. They also must communicate details about the devices with other healthcare workers, including physicians and surgeons, physical therapists, and medical appliance technicians.

Detail oriented. Orthotists and prosthetists must be precise when taking and recording measurements to ensure that devices fit properly.

Dexterity. Orthotists and prosthetists must be adept at working with their hands to fit, construct, and adapt devices that have intricate mechanical parts.

Interpersonal skills. Orthotists and prosthetists meet with patients and their families. They also collaborate on patient care with other members of the healthcare team.

Physical stamina. Orthotists and prosthetists may spend a lot of time bending or crouching to examine or measure patients.

Problem-solving skills. Orthotists and prosthetists evaluate their patients' needs to find creative solutions for rehabilitation.

Pay About this section

Orthotists and Prosthetists

Median annual wages, May 2023

Orthotists and prosthetists

$78,100

Health technologists and technicians

$51,250

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for orthotists and prosthetists was $78,100 in May 2023. 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 $42,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $117,250.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for orthotists and prosthetists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $83,400
Ambulatory healthcare services 82,010
Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing 80,660
Health and personal care retailers 68,820
Hospitals; state, local, and private 66,510
Most orthotists and prosthetists work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Orthotists and Prosthetists

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Orthotists and prosthetists

15%

Health technologists and technicians

7%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of orthotists and prosthetists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 800 openings for orthotists and prosthetists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Demand for orthotists and prosthetists is projected to rise due to the aging population, the growing prevalence of obesity and diabetes, and the continued occurrence of trauma events.

The growing size of the older population and the consequent rise in age-related health issues, such as osteoarthritis and injuries from falls, will increase the need for devices that help improve bodily function and relieve pain. In addition, rising obesity rates will place greater demand on orthoses to alleviate foot and heel pain, and prosthetic care will be needed to address amputations and other complications from diabetes.

Trauma event survivors, such as those who have experienced industrial or car accidents, will need orthotic and prosthetic care to regain or improve mobility.

Employment projections data for orthotists and prosthetists, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Orthotists and prosthetists

29-2091 9,500 10,900 15 1,500 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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 OEWS 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.org. 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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 About this section

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Physical therapists Physical Therapists

Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain.

Doctoral or professional degree $99,710
Physicians and surgeons Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses and address health maintenance.

Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $239,200 per year.
Respiratory therapists Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, because of a chronic condition such as asthma.

Associate's degree $77,960
Dental laboratory technicians Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians

Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians make or repair dentures, eyeglasses, prosthetics, and related products.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,640
Occupational therapists Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists evaluate and treat people who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities to help them with vocational, daily living, and other skills that promote independence.

Master's degree $96,370

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about orthotists and prosthetists, visit

American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists

For a list of accredited programs for orthotists and prosthetists, visit

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

For a list of accredited residency programs for orthotists and prosthetists, visit

National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education

For more information about certification for orthotists and prosthetists, visit

American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics

Board of Certification/Accreditation

O*NET

Orthotists and Prosthetists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Orthotists and Prosthetists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/orthotists-and-prosthetists.htm (visited July 05, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.