What Training Do You Need to Become an Orthotic Technician

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Orthotic technicians, also known as medical appliance technicians, help provide patients with braces, corrective shoes and mobility supports. These medical professionals assess the body measurements of patients along with physician prescriptions to create specialized orthotic appliances. Orthotic technicians use a variety of materials and equipment (welds, drills, bolts and glue) to mold the thermoplastics used in the appliances. They also use grinding wheels to buff and polish the braces and support appliances.

Orthotics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), approximately 13,000 individuals are employed as orthotic technicians. Although many orthotic technicians are employed in the medical equipment and support manufacturing industry, some work in clinics, hospitals, medical equipment retail stores and/or medical equipment distribution centers. Orthotic technicians are required to have an associate’s degree, although many hold a bachelor’s degree and/or post-baccalaureate certificate in orthotics and prosthetics. The average orthotic technician earns approximately $37,000 per year.

If you would like more information on the training needed to become an orthotic technician you have come to the right place. This article will provide you with all of the information you need to successfully enter into the world of orthotics.

Training

In order to be an orthotic technician, you will need to complete a formal training program in the areas of orthotics and/or prosthetics. At the end of the program, you will either have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and/or a post-baccalaureate certificate. If you are interested in furthering your career and becoming a certified orthotist, you will need to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in orthotics. Although a bachelor’s degree is not required for employment, many employers prefer orthotic technicians with a bachelor’s degree and/or certification.

Educational Requirements

While in your formal training program you will learn how to construct a multitude of orthotic support appliances (devices) for the arms, back, hands, legs and feet. You will also participate in clinical internships and practicums where you will gain invaluable hands-on experience. If you decide to obtain a associate’s in orthotics, your training program will center on orthotic coursework, but if you choose to acquire a bachelor’s degree, your program will focus on coursework and practical experience (internships).

  • Associate of Applied Science in Orthotics Technology

It will take approximately two to three years to obtain an associate’s degree in orthotics technology. Your associate’s program mayconsist of coursework in the following areas: physiology, anatomy and orthotic and prosthetic equipment. During your program, you may receive in-depth classroom instruction in the areas of body measurements and suspension techniques (spinal, upper limbs and lower limbs).

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics

It will take approximately four years to acquire a bachelor’s degree in orthotics. Your bachelor’s degree program may consist of coursework in the following areas: gait analysis, kinesiology, biomechanics, muscle testing, material science, design principles in orthotics and patient analysis. During the latter part of your orthotics training program (junior and senior years), you will participate in a rotation-styled internship program that supports hands-on, clinical experiences.

  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Orthotics and Prosthetics

It will take approximately 24 months to obtain a post-baccalaureate certificate in orthotics. If you have a health-related bachelor’s degree (not in orthotics or prosthetics) and would like to become an orthotic technician or orthotist, you may need to enroll and complete a 2-year post-graduate certificate program in orthotics to be able to practice. While in your graduate program, you will receive the same training as someone who is in an orthotics bachelor’s degree program.

General Orthotics Courses

As an orthotic technology student, you will take courses in: orthotic technology, externally powered orthotics/prosthetics rehabilitation techniques, kinesiology, hand, neuromuscular, physics, biology, paths mechanics, fabrication theory, anatomy, research methods, orthopedics, materials, laboratory techniques, English, computer skills and applications and/or biomechanics for technicians.

Certification

If you decide to obtain certification in orthotics or orthotics technology, you will need to take an examination offered by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. You will also need to have a high school diploma, approximately 1,000 hours of clinical orthotics experience and an associate’s degree (minimum) in orthotics and/or prosthetics. The certification exam consists of 100 questions on fitting, anatomy, ethics and pre-fabricated orthotics. Once you successfully pass the exam, you will be considered a Certified (Fitter) Orthotist or Certified Orthotic Technician.

Workshops and Seminars

There are a variety of career-related opportunities available for orthotic technicians. These opportunities include: orthotics-related seminars, practical, hands-on orthotics workshops and orthotic-related webinars. Once a year, the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists helps improve the field of orthotics by sponsoring a conference that combines clinical techniques with in-depth coursework. Moreover, many American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists chapters, throughout the United States offer weekly, monthly and/or yearly educational classes, workshops and seminars to its members.

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