What Podiatrists Do
Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems.
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, in outpatient care centers, or for the government.
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.
The median annual wage for podiatrists was $126,240 in May 2019.
Employment of podiatrists is projected to show little or no change from 2019 to 2029. Despite limited employment growth, some podiatrists will be needed to replace those who leave the occupation.
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.
Podiatrists typically do the following:
- Assess the condition of a patient’s feet, ankles, or lower legs by reviewing the patient’s medical history, listening to his or her 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 or vascular disease
- 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 surgery, such as foot and ankle reconstruction. Others may choose a specialty such as sports medicine, pediatrics, or diabetic foot care.
Podiatrists who own their practice may spend time on business-related activities, such as hiring employees and managing inventory.
Podiatrists held about 10,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of podiatrists were as follows:
|Offices of other health practitioners||62%|
|Offices of physicians||14|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||9|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||7|
Podiatrists’ offices are included in offices of other healthcare practitioners.
Some podiatrists work in group practices with other physicians or specialists. Podiatrists may work closely with physicians and surgeons, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and medical assistants.
Most podiatrists work full time. Podiatrists’ offices may be open in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients. Self-employed podiatrists or those who own their practice may set their own hours. In hospitals, podiatrists may have to work occasional nights or weekends, or may be on call.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of podiatrists.
For more information about podiatrists, visit
For information on colleges of podiatric medicine and their entrance requirements, curricula, and student financial aid, visit
For a list of accredited podiatric programs and residency programs, visit
For more information about the podiatric licensing exam, visit
For more information about board certification, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Podiatrists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/podiatrists.htm (visited ).