To work as an orthotic and prosthetic specialist, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- have a bachelor's degree;
- have a master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics;
- complete a residency program; and
- become board certified.
Education after high school
To work in this occupation you need a master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics. These programs include courses such as upper and lower extremity orthotics and prosthetics, spinal orthotics, and plastics and other materials.
Orthotic and prosthetic technicians need an associate degree or on-the-job training.
All graduate degree programs have a clinical component in which the student works under the direction of an O&P professional. Most programs require at least 500 hours of clinical experience, split equally between orthotics and prosthetics.
Following graduation from a master's degree program, you complete a residency program in either prosthetics or orthotics. Residency lasts one year. If you want to become certified in both orthotics and prosthetics you need to complete one year of residency training for each specialty. After your residency, you take additional exams to become board certified.
Some branches of the military train people to be physical and occupational therapy specialists. This military occupation includes orthotic and prosthetic specialists. Training lasts from 11 to 31 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.