Search our Site!

Articles By Subject

How to Become an Orthopedic Technologist

Home >> Articles >> Healthcare Careers >> How to Become an Orthopedic Technologist

Orthopedic Technologist.

What orthopedic technologists do

Orthopedic technologists and technicians have specialized training in the medical field of orthopedics, which focuses on the correction of skeletal and related disorders. According to the National Association of Orthopaedic Technologists (NAOT), these technicians provide support for orthopedic surgeons in the medical environment, assisting in the care of sick and disabled persons. Orthopedic technologists (OTs) have a wide range of potential responsibilities, for example:

  • Perform routine office and departmental procedures and certain basic nursing functions
  • Apply and remove casts
  • Help in preparing and adjusting setup for traction
  • Prep for surgical procedures and assist surgeons in the operating room
  • Fit and adjust walking aids such as canes, crutches and walkers
  • Apply simple braces and perform basic repairs on this type of medical equipment
  • Advise patients on the care of casts and other devices

The duties of OTs overlap with those of surgical technologists and assistants, orthopedic physician's assistants and nurses, athletic trainers, occupational and physical therapists, medical assistants, and certain other health care professionals, according to the Virginia Department of Health Professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (, 2012) classifies orthopedic technicians in the general category of health technologists and technicians who share the basic role of performing technological functions in medicine and related fields.

How to become an orthopedic technologist

Aspiring health care professionals need interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate with patients who may be in pain or under stress.

NAOT Recognized Schools and Programs have requirements for associate degrees or certificates in orthopedic technology: at least 450 hours of instruction, including classroom lectures and practical laboratory instruction, plus at least 200 hours of field experience through a clinical rotation or externship. Graduates of NAOT recognized programs can take the certification examination of the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists, and they may be excused from the qualifying requirement of two years of full time on-the-job training. Certification is also available from organizations such as The American Society of Orthopedic Professionals, which offers an online exam for Registered Orthopedic Technologists; certification also requires specified work experience or training.

While the process may vary, the path to becoming an orthopedic technologist may include some or all of these steps that are typical for would-be surgical technologists (BLS):

  • Earn a high school diploma or GED
  • Attend and successfully complete a post-secondary training program
  • Consider examinations for professional certification (requirements vary according to state and local requirements)
  • Apply for employment

Orthopedic technologists' duties may overlap to some extent with those of surgical technologists, and the BLS notes that surgical technologists need to be detail oriented, manually dexterous, able to stand for long periods of time and capable of managing stress (BLS). Surgical technologists generally require a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree, and certain states have regulations for this occupation, the BLS notes. Training programs offer courses like anatomy, biology and medical terminology as well as specific surgical and medical techniques (BLS).

Additional certification, training, education and professional experience may be required for employment.

Career outlook for orthopedic technologists

The BLS doesn't provide a career outlook for orthopedic technologists but does have data for surgical technologists. Employment of surgical technologists in the U.S. is expected to increase by up to 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations in the U.S. (BLS). Employment opportunities should be strongest for candidates with training from an accredited education program and professional certification (BLS).

According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET OnLine), general health technologists and technicians should see faster than average job growth nationally between 2010 and 2010, with an increase of up to 20 to 28 percent.

As of May 2011, health technologists and technicians earned an annual median wage of $38,080 nationally, with the lowest 10 percent earning $25,540 nationally and the highest-paid 10 percent earning up to $62,530 nationally (BLS). The highest levels of employment for this occupation were seen in settings such as general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, offices of physicians, and offices of other health practitioners. In 2011, the states with the highest employment levels of health technologists and technicians included California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois and New York (BLS).

Quick Facts: Health Technologists and Technicians
*All Facts from*

2011 National Median Pay

$38,080 per year; $18.31 per hour

Number of Jobs, 2011


Job Outlook, 2010-2020

20% to 28% nationally (Faster than avg national growth)

Employment Change, 2010-2020


Quick Facts: Surgical Technologists
*All facts from*

2011 National Median Pay

$40,950 per year; $19.69 per hour

Entry Level Education

Postsecondary non-degree award

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training


Number of Jobs, 2011


Job Outlook, 2010-2020

19% (Average job growth)

Employment Change, 2010-2020



The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics, "Certified O and P Technician," 2012,

The American Society of Orthopedic Professionals, Registered Orthopedic Technologist ("ROT") Certification, 2010,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Surgical Technologists,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011: 29-2799 Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other*, updated 2012,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011: 29-2055 Surgical Technologists, 2012,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Classification System Manual, A208 Health Technologists and Technicians, October 2001,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Classification System Manual (Orthopedic technician), October 2001,

National Association of Orthopaedic Technologists, "What is an Orthopaedic Technologist?", 2010,

National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists,, 2010

Occupational Information Network (O*NET OnLine), Summary Report for: 29-2099.00 - Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other, 2011,

Virginia Department of Health Professions, "Study into the Need to Regulate Orthopedic Technologists and Orthopedic Physician's Assistants," 2008, (downloadable file)

Featured Schools

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
1 Program(s) Found
Remington College , Fort Worth
  • Dallas campus named 2013 School of the Year by the National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP).
  • Tuition covers course-required materials for campus students, including books, lab equipment, and class supplies.
  • Offers flat tuition rate to continuously enrolled students who are on track toward program completion.
  • Campus accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
  • 18 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Students who qualify may apply for the Opportunity Scholarship, which can help lower education costs.
  • Offers career-focused, degree programs to over 70,000 students at over 140 ITT Technical Institutes in 35 states.
  • Classes are offered year-round, with day and evening course options.
  • Online courses can be accessed from anywhere, 24 hours a day.
  • Nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
Rasmussen College , Saint Cloud
  • Founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1900, with over 40 diverse online degree programs.
  • Offers a comprehensive student services team (SUPPORT+) composed of financial aid advisors, academic tutors, career service advisors, and more.
  • Operates as a Public Benefit Corporation school, that puts students first and maintains a commitment to the communities they serve.
  • Features a DreamReal program, that provides students with career guidance from enrollment to graduation, helps them to make connections in their community, and more.
Show more [+]
    1 Program(s) Found
    • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
    • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
    • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
    • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
    • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
    Show more [+]
    • Online Courses
    • Financial Aid
    1 Program(s) Found
    Westwood College , Denver
    • Dedicated to providing a hands-on, career-focused education since 1953.
    • Offers classes online, as well as at 14 campuses across California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia.
    • Develops curriculum with input from employers, subject matter experts.
    • Has small class sizes to promote one-on-one, student-teacher interaction.
    • Makes no-cost tutoring available in every subject to every enrolled student.
    Show more [+]
    • Accredited
    • Accelerated Programs
    • Financial Aid
    1 Program(s) Found
    • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
    • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
    • Potential students may preview a free, one-week mini course to get an accurate impression of the student experience.
    • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
    • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
    Show more [+]
    • Online Courses
    • Financial Aid
    • Transferable Credits
    4 Program(s) Found
    Fortis Institute , Birmingham
    • Provides a 24/7 myCampusLink system that lets students access their records, e-mail, communicate with faculty, and more.
    • Designated a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
    • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
    • Offers career education in nursing, dental, business, information technology, and more. 
    • Has 44 campus locations across 15 states, with online options as well.
    Show more [+]
    • Financial Aid