Career Choice: Medical Appliance Technician

Career Choice: Medical Appliance Technician
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    A medical appliance technician is tasked with constructing, fitting, maintaining, or repairing medical supportive devices, such as braces, orthotics and prosthetic devices, joints, arch supports, and other surgical and medical appliances.


This professional is sometimes known as a prosthetics technician, an ocularist or an orthopaedic technician.


Missing a limb, an eye or having a disability requiring the use of a medical appliance is not just for the elderly. Our war wounded need to be outfitted with devices to help them to stand, walk, pick up items and hold loved ones. Working with these people are technicians who fit such appliance onto patients and make adjustments as necessary. Some technicians are skilled at building such appliances or at least repairing and modifying them accordingly. The technician must ensure that such appliances are measured properly by taking the patient’s body or limb measurements.


Most medical appliance technicians have some college, but no degree with one in nine having a bachelor’s degree notes O-Net Online. Employers typically train technicians on the job, but also prefer people who have had formal training. Students who complete a National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education approved training program are desirable candidates; just five schools in the United States offer this program as of 2011. Students complete a certificate program or an associate degree enroute to receiving NCOPE certification.

view current positions for medical appliance technicians


The mean annual wage for medical appliance technicians was $38,610 as of May 2010 reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries for those in the 10th and 25th percentiles were $23,450 and $28,550, respectively. The median salary was $35,670. Those in the 75th percentile averaged $44,950 per year, while those in the 90th percentile earned $58,060 on average.


More than 60 percent of the 13,320 medical appliance technicians employed as of 2010 worked in one industry — medical equipment and supplies manufacturing. These professionals averaged just below the mean annual wage, earning $37,920 per year. Health and personal care stores paid its technicians $39,910 with equipment wholesalers offering the top annual salaries at $46,260 per year.


The bureau reports that California had the largest number of medical appliance technicians, with these professionals earning $42,700 per year on average. Top pay of $50,160 per year was earned by technicians in Iowa with those in Kansas and Colorado following, earning $47,180 and $46,630, respectively. Medical appliance technicians working in Michigan averaged $46,450 per year and those in Minnesota came in at $46,270 annually. Among the lower paying states for this profession were Indiana at $28,830 and West Virginia at $30,870. The top paying metropolitan area for these professionals was the Des Moines, Iowa, region with average annual pay of $58,070. Baltimore and Los Angeles followed with wages of $51,790 and $51,510, respectively.


The BLS has forecast that job growth for medical appliance technicians will increase by 11 percent from 2008 to 2018, matching the growth rate for all jobs. The bureau notes that few people seek these jobs, attributing that to the general lack of awareness for these kinds of positions. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease contribute to limb loss and because these diseases continue to affect an increasingly older population, the demand for medical appliance technicians should remain high.


O-Net Online: Summary Report for: 51-9082.00 – Medical Appliance Technicians

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition; Medical, Dental, and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics; 51-9082 Medical Appliance Technicians

National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education: List of Schools

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