Prosthetist/orthotist jobs… did you know?
What is a prosthetic? It’s an artificial limb or part for a person, and not many people know there’s a job to design and create them.
Prosthetics have come a long way – people are now dreaming up 3D-printed prosthetics, mind-controlled robotic limbs and more. Search for ‘prosthetic leg’ on YouTube and you’ll be lost in space-age discoveries for hours.
Prosthetics are changing people’s lives:
- Alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft was born missing both legs below the knees, as well as her left arm below the elbow. Thanks to ambition, talent and prosthetics, she is an eight-time Paralympics gold medal winner.
- A teen model who lost her leg in a road accident now does her modelling in a crystal prosthetic leg.
Are you ready to change people’s lives in this way? If so, you could design and fit prosthetic aids as a prosthetist – or provide splints, braces and orthotics (special footwear) as an orthotist.
Either way – life-changing stuff.
Prosthetist/orthotist job trends
How much money can you make as a Prosthetist/orthotist?
£22,000 – £68,500 (UK average)
Recent labour market information says you can earn on average between £22,000 and £68,500 a year as a prosthetist/orthotist in the UK.
Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.
What entry qualifications and training do you need?
School, college and training
Prosthetics is a career choice for graduates because you first need to complete a BSc degree in prosthetics and orthotics. This is a degree course that usually takes three to four years of full-time study, and it is currently offered by two universities in the UK.
- Common entry requirements for a prosthetics and orthotics degree:
- Five GCSEs (passing grades 9-4/A*-C) including English, maths and science
- Two or three A-levels, including maths, physics, biology/human biology or engineering.
Some universities may also accept the following alternative qualifications, so check with them before you apply:
- BTEC, HND or HNC which includes maths or engineering
- relevant NVQ
- Science-based access course
- Equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications
- A previous degree or a full practising qualification in a related area.
After your prosthetics and orthotics degree
Once you’ve completed this degree, you need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Then you can choose to specialise as a prosthetist or orthotist once you start working.
If you want to study for a range of healthcare roles, you can complete either an apprenticeship or advanced apprenticeship in healthcare. This gives you the opportunity to earn a salary working in healthcare while getting structured learning that leads to an industry-recognised qualification.
The NHS runs traineeships, apprenticeships and cadet schemes.
NHS apprenticeships are on offer at four levels:
- Intermediate (Level 2 – equivalent to five GCSES (9-4/A*-C)
- Advanced (Level 3 – equivalent to two A-levels)
- Higher (Levels 4-7 – equivalent to foundation degree or above)
- Degree apprenticeship (Levels 6-7 – equivalent to a degree)
There are some entry requirements for NHS apprenticeships. For example, to successfully apply for an Advanced Level Apprenticeship you may need four or five GCSEs or their equivalents, sometimes in particular subjects.
To start a higher apprenticeship with the NHS you may need a Level 3 qualification or enough healthcare-related experience to show you have the skills and knowledge to apply.
Visit NHS Healthcare Careers to see the range of healthcare apprenticeships on offer.
You can choose to specialise as either a prosthetist or orthotist. With time and experience you could head into management or into a specialist clinical area. You could also move into research and development or share your knowledge and skills in a teaching post.
What experience do you need for prosthetist/orthotist jobs?
It can help you decide if this is the right career for you if you have previously done work experience in a healthcare environment.
Any work experience where you have demonstrated your healthcare skills can help your application. Visit the NHS Work Experience website to find healthcare work experience opportunities in your area.
Examples of relevant work experience include:
- Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
- Work placements in a company
- Year-long industry placements on a sandwich degree course
Volunteering and extra-curricular activities
Volunteering is a very caring thing to do because you are choosing to give up your time to help other people. Employers may be impressed to see volunteering on your CV, and any volunteering experience related to healthcare is especially useful. Maybe you have volunteered to help vulnerable people like the homeless or elderly people?
You may have been a carer yourself for someone in the family, or you have helped family relatives struggling with their health. This life experience means you know what can be involved in caring for someone’s health.
You can also help your application by displaying an active interest in engineering – perhaps by joining after-school clubs.
What skills do you need for prosthetist/orthotist jobs?
What life and work skills do you need to make a great prosthetist?
Useful skills to highlight when applying for a position include:
- Good organisation skills because you’ll be juggling face-to-face time with patients and engineering, maths and IT activities
- Good problem solving skills – you’ll be interested in how engineering can be used to help people
- Good communication skills – you need to be calm, understanding, a good listener, and able to motivate people to use prosthetics which may be very new or challenging to them at first
- Teamworking skills – you could be working alone or as part of a team
Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.
You can start to build these skills right now when you sign up with Youth Employment UK to get free Young Professional training.
What does a prosthetist/orthotist do?
You could be working in a hospital or private clinic. Both prosthetists and orthotists help people with movement. They use the latest digital imaging techniques, CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer-aided modelling) to design prosthetics and aids for limbs.
Prosthetist job responsibilities:
- Assessing the patient and understanding what they want to achieve (e.g. sports goals)
- Making a model of the area where the prosthesis will be fitted
- Fitting the prosthesis once it’s been made, making sure it’s comfortable and effective
- Helping patients get used to using their prosthetics
You could be working with people who were born with a limb missing, or people who have lost limbs in accidents or military service, or people who’ve undergone amputations due to conditions like diabetes.
Orthotist job responsibilities:
- Assessing the patient and understanding what they need for more comfortable living
- Aiding movement
- Correcting deformity
- Relieving discomfort
You could be working with people of all ages who have:
- Cerebral palsy
- Spina bifida
Your first steps into Prosthetist/orthotist jobs
These roles are advertised under different job titles. When you’re looking on job boards, look for the following types of job:
- Trainee prosthetic technician
- Prosthetic technician
- Prosthetic technologist