Orthotic and prosthetic technician.
ORTHOTIC AND PROSTHETIC (O&P) TECHNICIANS FABRICATE AND REPAIR ORTHOSES such as braces and prostheses (artificial limbs). They provide technical support services to clinical orthotists and prosthetists. Through their skill and training, they are able to help persons with disabilities achieve a better quality of life.
O&P technicians work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, Veterans Administration facilities, specialty clinics, home health care settings, private practice offices and nursing homes.
According to the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP), the job of O&P technician requires knowledge and skills in order to fabricate and repair prostheses and orthoses according to patient measurements and casts, and in compliance with a physician's prescription. This is best accomplished through training in a two-year associate degree program or certificate program. The accreditation body for O&P educational programs is the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education.
O&P technicians may earn a starting salary of approximately $21,813, although technicians who have completed certification exams from the American Board for Certification (ABC) in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics in both orthotics and prosthetics may begin at around $28,700. According to the 2004 AAOP Operating Performance and Compensation Report, the average O&P technician with ABC certification and 13 years of experience earns $40,454 per year. Technicians who continue their training and become practitioners can earn even more. The AAOP report found that the average ABC-certified orthotist-prosthetist with 15 years of experience earns $91,452.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, careers in O&P are projected to grow faster than average from 2004-2014. AAOP notes that there may be a shortage of professionals in the field by 2030 based on population growth alone. Not only will our aging population create more need, but the increase in obesity, diabetes, stroke and arthritis can lead to health problems that require orthoses and prostheses.
For more information about education for a career in O&P, here are some Web sites to visit.
The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists www.opcareers.org
The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics www.abcop.org
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs http://caahep.org
The National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education www.ncope.org