Job description

Medical appliance technicians combine their manual manufacturing skills with an interest in medicine to design, produce, maintain and fit a wide range of medical devices. These could consist of limb prosthetic devices, joint braces, orthotic supports and other medical or even surgical appliances with the purpose of medically supporting patients.

Duties

    • Read instructions, specifications and notes from orthotics or prosthetists to produce devices
    • Measure patients’ bodies to ensure that the finished product will fit them
    • Bend, shape and attach fabric, materials and parts that will conform to the patient’s body
    • Drill holes in parts and materials and operate welding machinery to form orthotic or prosthetic appliances
    • Test medical devices to ensure they are functioning and can do the tasks they were made for
    • Work with a wide variety of components, such as thermoplastic, metal alloys and leather
    • Clean and polish braces, support systems and artificial limbs using grinding equipment and buffing wheels
    • Merge ingredients to come up with pigments to match the individual’s skin colour
    • Modify medical appliances should they not satisfy the patients or provide discomfort
    • Fit devices onto patients’ bodies and answer any questions they may have
    • Repair or maintain malfunctioning devices to original model specifications
    • Instruct and guide patients on the proper use of orthotic and prosthetic medical devices

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Attention to detail
Analytical
Numerical
Tech-savviness
Manual dexterity
Problem-solving
Decision-making
Independence
Teamwork
Communication
Creativity
Empathy
Organisational
Time management

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

Standard business hours

A medical appliance technician will typically complete a 40-hour workweek during regular business hours. Depending on their employer, they may need to work evenings or weekends on occasion. They primarily work in office, laboratory or hospital environments with a small number of colleagues.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$24k

Median

$39k

Top 10%

$63k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High School

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

2years

No formal education is required to become a medical appliance technician. Indeed, you can learn the required skills through on-the-job training which typically lasts one to two years.

That said, you may opt complete a specialised associate’s degree programme at an accredited school, which can significantly boost your employment prospects.

Certification is optional but, again, can increase your chances of securing employment.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.

13%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

2k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

45%

Career progression

You will typically begin your career as a helper in a laboratory. With experience, you can progress to more complex tasks. Many medical appliance technicians choose to specialise as an orthotist or prosthetist after additional formal education.