Prosthetist-orthotist

Healthcare
Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would help people who need an artificial limb or a device to support or control part of their body.You would create devices which would give them greater independence and could hugely improve their quality of life, 

Your work would assist people who find it physically difficult to move. You could work with people recovering from a stroke or who have rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or cerebral palsy.

A prosthesis is a device that replaces a missing part of a person’s body. As a prosthetist, you would design and fit artificial limbs (prostheses) to replace limbs lost through amputation or which are missing at birth.

An orthosis is fitted to an existing part of the body. As an orthotist, you would design and fit surgical appliances (orthoses) such as braces, callipers, neck collars and splints. They support people’s limbs or the spine to relieve pain, help people move or prevent physical conditions getting worse. A person might wear the orthosis permanently or just use it temporarily.

You would:

  • Assess a patient's needs
  • Take measurements and use computer modelling to design the prosthesis or orthosis
  • Explain the design to a technician, who will make it
  • Fit the device to the patient, making sure it is comfortable
  • Do follow-up checks with patients to see how they are coping with it
  • Make sure the appliance or limb is functioning properly
  • Carry out adjustments or repairs if needed

You would work with other healthcare professionals. Physiotherapists would oversee the patient's exercise regime. Occupational therapists would help the patient understand how to perform daily activities with the device.

You can see more about this role in the NHS on the Prosthetist/orthotist page on the NHS Careers website.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week Monday to Friday. Part-time or flexible hours may also be available.

Environment

You would work within hospitals, clinics and health centres.

Travel

You might need to visit some patients in their own homes.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Caring for people
  • Being tactful
  • Working on your own
  • Working with your hands
  • Using computers
  • Designing
  • Finding solutions to problems

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You need an honours degree (SCQF level 10) or postgraduate qualifications (SCQF level 11) in Prosthetics and orthotics approved by the British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists (BAPO) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Currently in Scotland, only Strathclyde University offers approved courses.

To enter a BSc honours degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics (SCQF level 10) requires National 5 qualifications and Highers at AAAB or AABBB; Advanced Highers in science or engineering might also be of value.

To enter a MSc postgraduate Prosthetics & Orthotics course (SCQF level 11) requires an honours degree in a relevant subjects such science, engineering or medicine.

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required)
  • Physics (required)
  • Biology or human biology (required)
  • Other science and technologies subjects such as engineering science
  • ICT subjects

Helpful to have

Qualifications that offer experience in the health, science and technologies such as Skills for Work Health Sector (SCQF level 4/5), Laboratory Science (SCQF level 5) or Engineering Skills (SCQF level 4) when applying to courses.