What Orthotists and Prosthetists Do
Orthotists and prosthetists design and fabricate medical supportive devices and measure and fit patients for them.
Orthotists and prosthetists work in various industries, including manufacturing, health and personal care stores, doctors’ offices, and hospitals. Most work full time.
How to Become an Orthotist and Prosthetist
Orthotists and prosthetists need a master’s degree and certification. Both orthotists and prosthetists must complete a residency before they can be certified.
The median annual wage for orthotists and prosthetists was $68,410 in May 2019.
Employment of orthotists and prosthetists is projected to grow 17 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The large baby-boom population is aging, and orthotists and prosthetists will be needed because both diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the two leading causes of limb loss, are more common among older people.
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.
Orthotists and prosthetists typically do the following:
- Evaluate and interview patients to determine their needs
- Take measurements or impressions of the part of a patient’s body that will be fitted with a brace or artificial limb
- Design and fabricate orthopedic and prosthetic devices based on physicians’ prescriptions
- Select materials to be used for the orthotic or prosthetic device
- Instruct patients in how to use and care for their devices
- Adjust, repair, or replace prosthetic and orthotic devices
- Document care in patients’ records
Orthotists and prosthetists may work in both orthotics and prosthetics, or they may choose to specialize in one area. Orthotists are specifically trained to work with medical supportive devices, such as spinal or knee braces. Prosthetists are specifically trained to work with prostheses, such as artificial limbs and other body parts.
Some orthotists and prosthetists construct devices for their patients. Others supervise the construction of the orthotic or prosthetic devices by medical appliance technicians.
Orthotists and prosthetists held about 10,000 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of orthotists and prosthetists were as follows:
|Ambulatory healthcare services||28%|
|Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing||26|
|Health and personal care stores||21|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||10|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||9|
Orthotists and prosthetists who fabricate orthotics and prosthetics may be exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain materials, but there is little risk of injury if workers follow proper procedures, such as wearing goggles, gloves, and masks.
Most orthotists and prosthetists work full time.
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||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain.
|Doctoral or professional degree||$89,440|
Physicians and Surgeons
Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses.
|Doctoral or professional degree||This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.|
Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema.
Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians
Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians construct, fit, or repair medical appliances and devices.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$37,370|
Occupational therapists treat patients who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.
For more information about orthotists and prosthetists, visit
American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists
For a list of accredited programs for orthotists and prosthetists, visit
For a list of accredited residency programs for orthotists and prosthetists, visit
For more information about certification for orthotists and prosthetists, visit
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 ).