Prosthetists and orthotists are responsible for treating patients with limb and spinal problems as well as fitting prosthetic limbs or therapeutic braces. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were 5,470 people employed as prosthetists or orthotists in the United States in 2009. A bachelor's or master's degree is often required for a career in prosthetics or orthotics. Salaries for these positions vary depending on factors like location and industry.
National Salary Scales
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), based on the last survey of prosthetists and orthotists in May 2009, found that the average salary for these professionals is $66,600 a year, with a median salary of $62,070 a year. Salaries increase considerably in the upper percentiles, with the top 25 percent making $82,000 or more and the top 10 percent earning $104,540 a year or more. The bottom 10 percent earn less than $34,000 a year, while the bottom 25 percent have incomes of less than $44,370 a year.
Prosthetists and orthotists working in New Hampshire enjoy the highest salaries, which were $87,540 a year according to 2009 BLS data. The second-highest are in Connecticut, with salaries of $82,710 annually. Indiana and Texas closely follow with their salaries. In terms of metropolitan area, those employed in the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area in Texas have the highest income, at $102,900 a year. This is followed by the Nassau-Suffolk area in New York and the Indianapolis-Carmel area in Indiana.
Salaries by Sector
The vast majority of prosthetists and orthotists work in the medical equipment and supplies manufacturing sector, where 2,170 people earned an average salary of $72,500 a year in 2009 according to the BLS. The health and personal care stores sector follows, with 1,070 people earning $69,230 a year on average. The highest salaries are in the professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers sector, where the average salary is $73,880. Those working in general medical and surgical hospitals earn an average of $54,000 a year, while those working in outpatient care centers have average incomes of $66,700 a year.
Qualifications and Training
People who wish to pursue a career in prosthetics or orthotics require a degree in the subject. There are two routes to achieving such a degree. The first is to take a bachelor's degree in prosthetics and orthotics, which will include courses such as biomechanics, spinal medicine, medical ethics, anatomy, health care research and prosthetic technology. Alternatively, a potential career entrant may pursue a master's degree in the subject if she has taken a bachelor's degree in a scientific or medically-related discipline. The courses will cover the same areas but will be more vocationally intensive.