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 and responsibilities
- 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 and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
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.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
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.
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.