Pedorthist Job Description, Career as a Pedorthist, Salary, Employment
Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training Associate’s degree and certification
Average Salary $39,000 per year
Job Outlook Good
Basic Job Description
Pedorthists are certified health care professionals who are trained to fabricate, fit, adjust and modify devices on patients that prevent painful or even disabling conditions of the foot or ankle. The pedorthist will identify the specific cause or pain of the patient’s condition, perform x-rays or other examinations to inspect the issue, and use the information to design a device for the patient to wear that will help hold their foot and ankle into the proper positions to help heal it back to the natural working state over time. Pedorthists observe bone structure, ankle joints, nerves, circulation and even skin conditions to determine what needs to be done to the patient. Once they have assessed the problem, they will also design a treatment and physical therapy plan for the patient to help get their foot and ankle healing quickly and efficiently.
Education and Training Requirements
Students who wish to study pedorthics typically receive an Associate’s degree in a science or health care field. Once the Associate’s is obtained, the student must become licensed in pedorthics through their state by taking a state administered examination. State requirements vary, but most students will have to work as an intern or apprentice along with a certified pedorthist for a specific number of hours before qualifying to take the state exam. Completion of the exam with a passing grade will license a student through the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthists. Certificates will also have to be renewed every few years according to state regulations.
Most pedorthists receive their hands-on training while working as an intern for a certified pedorthist, and are ready to work for a private clinic or physician once they receive their certification. Many internships will turn into full-time positions.
Getting the Job
In order to get a job as a pedorthist, the applicant will first have to be licensed through the state board. They will have excellent knowledge of foot anatomy and often have a good reputation and relationships among podiatrists and other foot doctors to effectively work together and share information about the needs of patients. They will be able to work individually as well as part of a team with foot doctors.
The ideal candidate for a job in pedorthics will have a passion for working with people and be understanding toward their individual needs. They will understand that many patients are in pain and will be gentle and understanding when assessing their needs.
Pedorthists should be up to date on new technological medical advances and, if possible, use these advancements in their work to help benefit patients. They will keep their certification up to date so they will always be practicing with the latest knowledge in mind.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
Jobs in pedorthics are on the rise as more and more patients are suffering foot related injuries or conditions. Patients who are active in sports often rely on a pedorthist to help them if they damage foot nerves or ligaments. The baby boomer generation is also in need of more pedorthic care as they get higher in age.
Employee outlook is also on the rise as more pedorthists are reaching the age of retirement and therefore need positions to be filled. More students are likely to find internships working under a pedorthist who is looking for the right candidate to take their place upon retirement.
Some pedorthists develop their career by working in a private practice with a podiatrist and prosthetic surgeon. Over time, some may advance to work as a self-employed pedorthist and work under a contract with various podiatrists who need some to design pedorthic materials for them. Others may advance by working with students who are looking to get into pedorthics and helping them obtain their certification. Some pedorthists may even go on to advance their education and become a podiatrist.
Working Conditions and Environment
Most pedorthists work in a hospital setting or private clinic. They deal mostly with elderly patients or athletes who are suffering foot injuries and need temporary braces or shoe alterations to allow them to continue playing. Some patients may come in with serious damage done to their foot or ankle, and the pedorthist will need to work with the podiatrist right away to get them treatment as quickly as possible.
Most pedorthists are not working directly in a hospital or emergency room type of setting, but often do have to visit with the podiatrist and patient to determine what type of footwear or material is needed to help heal their foot back to working condition. This may involve some lifting of patients or assisting them in and out of wheelchairs, and dealing with some patients who are suffering extreme pain.
Salary and Benefits
The average starting salary for a certified pedorthist is about $38,000 per year. Pedorthist salaries vary according to the size of the clinic they work in, the location and number of clients, and number of years working in the industry. Some who move on to become self-employed and work contractually for podiatrists.
Pedorthists who work for clinics will usually have a secure health insurance and vacation plan along with their salary. Self-employed pedorthists will have to provide these benefits on their own and revolve vacation time around patient and doctor needs.
Where to Go for More Information
Pedorthic Footwear Association
2025 M Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Pedorthics and Prosthetics
330 Jon Carlyle Street, Suite 210
Alexandria, VA 22314
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