Essential Career Information
- Arch-Support Maker
- Brace Maker
- Hearing Aid Repair Technician
- Orthopaedic Technician
- Orthopaedic Technologist
- Orthotic Fabricator Technician
- Orthotic Finish Grinding Technician
- Orthotics Fitter
- Orthotics Technician
- Prosthetics Fabrication Technician
- Prosthetics Lab Technician
- Prosthetics Technician
- Surgical Appliance Fitter
What Is a Medical Appliance Technician?
Medical appliance technicians design and manufacture medical and surgical support devices and prosthetics. These professionals help create, fit, and repair medical devices that are tailored to patients with birth defects, amputated limbs, and degenerative illnesses and injuries. Some of the most commonly manufactured medical devices include prosthetic limbs, orthotic braces, hearing aids, and prescription eyeglasses and contacts.
Medical appliance technicians typically work closely with healthcare providers to create, fabricate, and customize support devices for patients, while professionals working within a large lab or medical office may only supervise one area of production. These professionals often specialize in fields such as dentistry and orthodontics, ophthalmology, or orthotics and prosthetics. Dental lab technicians earn the highest medical appliance technician salary, at $40,440 per year, on average.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a medical appliance?
Medical appliances include devices used for patient support and to enhance bodily movement and functions, such as braces, prosthetics, and orthotics.
How do I become a medical appliance technician?
Medical appliance technicians need at least a high school diploma or GED and professional training. Most employers offer on-the-job training for qualified applicants.
How much does a medical appliance technician make?
Medical appliance technicians earned an average annual salary of $39,190 in 2018. Within this field, dental laboratory technicians are among the top earners.
What Does a Medical Appliance Technician Do?
Medical appliance technicians work at the intersection of healthcare and manufacturing. Most professionals work for employers in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, followed by health and personal care retailers. Small percentages of medical appliance technicians work in dental and optometry offices and for wholesalers of commercial equipment and supplies.
Medical appliance technicians regularly collaborate with professionals like physicians, dentists, ophthalmologists, and medical equipment repairers. In addition to technical and communication skills, medical appliance technicians need creative skills, an eye for detail, and dexterity with a variety of fabrication materials.
Become a Medical Appliance Technician
High School Diploma and On-the-Job Training
Medical appliance technicians typically need a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training. Aspiring medical appliance technicians can tailor their high school coursework to fit their career goals. Students with completed credits in design, anatomy, and physical and health sciences are best suited to pursue entry-level medical appliance technician jobs or college courses.
A few schools offer college-level coursework and associate degrees with orthotics and prosthetics concentrations. These programs explore topics such as prosthetics studies, pathophysiology, and health science research.
Entry-level medical appliance technician training often takes the form of a mentor-mentee relationship. For example, seasoned professionals may supervise less experienced colleagues in operating AutoCAD or medical manufacturing software. Training may also involve mastering a variety of power tools, industrial machinery, and manufacturing materials.
While certification and licensure are optional for medical appliance technicians, orthotics and prosthetics specialists may pursue certification to enhance their career options. The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (ABC) offers a variety of certifications specific to this specialty, including orthotist and prosthetist (O&P), O&P assistant, and O&P technician. Students may also pursue ABC credentials as a pedorthist, mastectomy fitter, or therapeutic shoe fitter.
Beginning in 2020, O&P certification candidates need a master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. They must complete a clinical residency accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education. Applicants also complete a multi-part exam comprising written multiple-choice questions, an interactive simulation-based component, and a clinical patient management exercise.