Medical appliance technicians combine a knowledge of human anatomy with math and power tools to create artificial limbs and braces. Their work supports other medical experts who use devices to help patients overcome a physical limitation. These technicians read prescriptions and detailed information about what a patient needs. They often work from a cast or impression, measuring with precision instruments, and then creating an appliance or new limb with the help of design software. Typically, technicians use hand or power tools to cut and shape the new limbs. They glue, rivet or weld the parts together. However, the use of 3D printer technology is growing rapidly, allowing for better fit and function than traditional prostheses. In either case, the final steps include smoothing the surfaces, and padding or covering them. Devices are then tested, adjusted, and eventually, repaired and maintained. Requirements vary from high school or equivalent to vocational training or an associate's degree. While there are few courses available in the field of orthotic and prosthetic technician, classes in shop, math, science and anatomy are helpful. Most learn technical skills on the job. Appliance technicians are medical mechanics. The appliances they build help people achieve physical function and form, as well as independence and productivity.
What they do:
Construct, fit, maintain, or repair medical supportive devices, such as braces, orthotics and prosthetic devices, joints, arch supports, and other surgical and medical appliances.
On the job, you would:
Drill and tap holes for rivets and glue, weld, bolt, or rivet parts together to form prosthetic or orthotic devices.
Read prescriptions or specifications to determine the type of product or device to be fabricated and the materials and tools that will be required.
Make orthotic or prosthetic devices, using materials such as thermoplastic and thermosetting materials, metal alloys and leather, and hand or power tools.
Manufactured or Agricultural Goods
manufacture and distribution of products
Arts and Humanities
Engineering and Technology
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
understanding people's reactions
looking for ways to help people
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
put together small parts with your fingers
listen and understand what people say
communicate by speaking
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
use rules to solve problems
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Computer aided design CAD software
Ohio Willow Wood OMEGA Tracer System
Footmaxx Metascan software
Gait analysis software
Computer aided manufacturing CAM software
Orthotic fabrication software
Examples of Registered Apprenticeship programs include:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.