What is an Orthotist
An orthotist and prosthetist (also known as an O & P Professional) is someone who designs medically supportive devices, and measures and fits them to a patient. This includes devices such as artificial limbs (feet, legs, hands, and arms), supportive braces, and other medical and surgical equipment. For more information on job duties, please visit our orthotist job description page.
Most orthotists work in offices, where they both meet with patients, and design and construct the orthotic or prosthetic devices. These offices can be located in a private practice, a hospital, a specialty clinic, or a rehabilitation facility. There is a further need for orthotists and prosthetists in nursing homes and home health settings.
In all cases, the orthotist will work in a comfortable, well-lit area, with plenty of space. This space is needed for meeting with patients, as well as the design and fitting of the orthotic or prosthetic.
Orthotists and prosthetists typically work a forty-hour week, often during business hours. There is no great need for an orthotist to be on call or work outside of their standard schedule, as they are rarely needed for emergency situations. That being said, there are occasions where a patient with a prosthetic may require a repair, and may lack a spare for such an instance; in these cases, the prosthetist may need to work briefly outside of their regular schedule.
Mean Annual Orthotist Salary
The average annual orthotist salary is $69,960. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $34,150 and the top 10% makes well over $111,030.
Orthotist Salary: Quick Summary
|2012 Mean Salary||$69,960 per year
$33.64 per hour
|Top 10% Salary||$111,030 per year
$53.38 per hour
|Bottom 10% Salary||$34,150 per year
$16.42 per hour
|Number of Jobs, 2012||7,890|
Orthotist Job Outlook and Prospects
With an aging population, there is a larger-than average expected demand for orthotists and prosthetists. There is a projected growth rate of 36 percent between 2012 and 2022. The need for orthotics for the aging baby boomer population will be great; furthermore, advanced age will bring increased incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, two of the leading causes of limb loss. As such, the needed for orthotists and prosthetists will be great in the coming years. Other factors include:
- demand for more orthotic and prosthetic devices
- involvement of the disabled in sports
- advancement in technology
What Affects Orthotist Salary
When considering orthotist salary and prosthetist salary, there are a number of factors that must be kept in mind. The mean annual wage for O & P professionals is $69,960. However, this mean doesn’t accurately reflect the disparity in salaries, which ranges from $34,150 among the lowest-paid, to $111,030 in the highest-paid 10%.
This range in salaries is due, in part, to education and experience, with specialization a particular area for consideration. More than these, though, is the industry worked, and perhaps most importantly, the geographic location.
Education and Specialization
Orthotist salary is highly influenced by education. Most orthotists and prosthetists receive a master’s degree, as well as certification, to enter the field. Certification requires a one-year residency, as well.
However, those that pursue the field further, seeking a doctorate in orthotics and prosthetics, will earn a higher salary. Similarly, a longer and more intensive residency can help, as the O & P professional will have a greater base of knowledge and experience with which to work.
Particular areas of specialization are important, as well; one can focus primarily on gait-related orthotics, helping patients without missing limbs improve their movement. Alternatively, a specialization in athletic prosthetics will move one toward helping athletes and sports-related injuries. These specializations are more sparsely populated than the general field, bringing higher incomes for those involved.
Experience and Position
Experience and position bear consideration for orthotist salary. Orthotists and prosthetists who have worked longer in the field, and thus gained a greater fluency with the particularities of the job, will be more desirable employees, and thus receive higher salaries. Alternatively, those with their own practice who have more experience will be more trusted, and receive more referrals from other health practitioners.
Position is a minor consideration for wage improvement; one can be promoted to a manager or supervisor position in a hospital. However, with only about 7,890 employed as orthotists and prosthetists, departments tend to be small.
The industry worked is of particular importance for orthotist and prosthetist salary. Working in a general hospital will bring a salary of $58,310, rather below the average. However, working in physicians’ offices can bring a salary of $71,510; health and personal care stores are even better, at $72,520. The highest salaries are in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, where the annual mean salary is $77,160.
Location is the most important factor for considering orthotist and prosthetist salary. Where other areas have a $20,000 difference in wages, geographic location ranges from $42,840 in Puerto Rico, to $99,330 in Rhode Island. Nevada has the second highest wages, at $92,000, and Louisiana is a distant third at $85,610.
As the occupation is more sparsely employed than other health care professions, there is a dearth of metropolitan data with which to narrow down the scope of location; suffice it to say, though, that there are many more positions in urban areas than rural, and salaries in these tend to be higher.
Orthotist Salary: Top 5
|Top Paying Metropolitan Areas||Top Paying States||Top Paying Industries||States with Highest Employment Level|
|Cleveland, OH: $97,990||Rhode Island: $99,330||Medical Equipement and Supplies Manufacturing: $77,160||California: (810 jobs) $73,100|
|Washington, D.C: $91,230||Nevada: $92,00||Health and Personal Care Stores: $72,510||Florida: (620 jobs) $69,980|
|Cape Coral, FL: $87,670||Louisiana: $85,610||Offices of Physicians: $71,510||Illinois: (400 jobs) $67,350|
|Warren, MI: $86,790||Indiana: $85,180||Federal Executive Branch: $69,580||Ohio: (390 jobs) $73,390|
|Virginia Beach, VA: $85,930||Connecticut: $81,450||Offices of Dentists: $69,010||Georgia: (390 jobs) $67,620|