Orthopedic technicians assist orthopedic physicians in the treatment of injuries to bones and surrounding ligaments and tendons. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most healthcare technicians require vocational certificates or associate's degrees in their fields of specialty, which in this case would be orthopedic technology. Certification options for orthopedic technicians include the Orthopedic Technologist Certified (OTC) or Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certified (OT-SC) designations. Licensure requirements for surgical technologists vary by state, and each state may have different licensure or certification protocols for orthopedic technicians.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or vocational degree|
|Required Experience||Varies by certification; completion of a specified amount of work experience is common|
|Required Skills||Patient assessment, surgery assistance, casting, bracing, splinting|
|Exam Requirements||Multiple-choice exams|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)||Health technologists and technicians: +24%*|
|Median Salary (2014)||Orthopedic technicians: $36, 746**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.
Certification Requirements to Become a Certified Orthopedic Technician
Orthopedic technicians, also known as orthopedic technologists, can receive certification from the National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Technologists (NBCOT). The NBCOT administers both the Orthopedic Technologist Certified (OTC) and the Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certified (OT-SC) designations. Exams cover areas such as injury assessment, casting and traction procedures, and surgery assistance.
Orthopedic Technologist Certified Option
Applicants for the OTC can qualify to sit for the certification exam in a variety of ways. Individuals can apply after gaining two years of relevant work experience, completing an accredited orthopedic technologist education program, or obtaining certification as an athletic trainer and having six months of relevant work experience. All OTCs must obtain recertification every six years by retesting or completing 120 continuing education units.
Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certified Option
Another certification option for orthopedic technicians is the Orthopedic Technologist Surgery Certification (OT-SC). To qualify, an applicant must hold an OTC certification and have one year of relevant work experience. Like the OTC, OT-SC recertification is required every six years and requires retesting or the completion of 120 continuing education units. Additionally, OT-SC applicants for recertification must maintain their current OTC certification.
Continuing Education Requirements
Continuing education units are earned for every hour spent in a classroom, clinical environment, or any other similarly organized professional seminar, workshop or conference that addresses orthopedic technology topics. A limited number of credits can also be earned for authoring publications, giving presentations related to orthopedic technology, or submitting certification exam questions to NBCOT. OT-SC recertification must also include a limited number of credits that address topics related to orthopedic surgical procedures.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The BLS doesn't report data pertaining specifically to orthopedic technicians, but it does note that employment of health technicians and technologists in general was expected to increase 24% between 2012 and 2022. This rate was faster than the national average. According to PayScale.com, orthopedic technicians earned median salaries of $36, 746 as of September 2014.