Prosthetics Certification and Certificate Programs

Learn about bachelor's degree programs and post-bachelor's certificate programs in prosthetics, as well as orthotics. Get information on admission requirements and common courses, and explore employment prospects and salary potential.

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Essential Information

Prosthetists work with physicians to help patients recover from illness or injury through the custom creation of artificial limbs or body parts. To become a Certified Prosthetist (CP) or Orthotist (CO), a student must earn a Bachelor of Science degree in orthotics and prosthetics or complete a post-baccalaureate certificate program. Each of these program levels are described in detail below.


Bachelor of Applied Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics

The professional portion of the orthotics and prosthetics curriculum is normally presented solely in the junior and senior years. Students spend the first two years of studies completing prerequisite science and math courses and apply in their sophomore year for admission into the program. Due to this '2+2' structure, students often complete general education requirements at community colleges and transfer at the start of their junior year.

Education Prerequisites

Prior to entry into a prosthetics and orthotics professional curriculum, students must complete the following courses in the first two years of undergraduate study:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Trigonometry
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Statistics

An observation or volunteer experience in orthotics and prosthetics is usually required for admission. Test scores and prior transcripts may also be considered.

Program Coursework

Coursework in an orthotics and prosthetics program is very technical. Students complete clinical rotations in order to gain hands-on experience Topics studied include:

  • Biomechanics
  • Clinical methods
  • Gait analysis
  • Material science
  • Lower and upper extremity orthotics
  • Transtibial prosthetics
  • Clinical pathology
  • Spinal orthotics

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for prosthetists and orthotists is expected to grow at an average rate between 2010 and 2020. The average annual salary for practitioners was $69,960 in 2012.

Continuing Education Information

Continuing education requirements for prosthetists are administered by American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABCOP). Dually certified practitioners (CPO) must complete 100 credit hours of mandated continuing education every five years.


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate of Completion in Prosthetics

Certificate programs in prosthetics incorporate didactic and hands-on training over a period of 6-9 months. Following completion of the program, graduates complete a 1-year residency in order to become eligible for the certification examination. Graduates can work as prosthetists.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants to certificate programs must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in a health-related field. Additionally, entry-level prerequisites in math, science and statistics must be completed if they were not part of the student's undergraduate studies:

Program Coursework

Program coursework gives students hands-on experience in the following topics:

  • Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology
  • Normal and pathological gait
  • Knee prosthetics
  • Radiographic procedures
  • Disarticulations
  • Upper limb prosthetics
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