Orthotic technicians make splints, braces or special footwear for people of all ages who may have conditions such as arthritis, spina bifida or a stroke.
This page has information on the role of the orthotic technician, including entry requirements and skills needed.
As an orthotic technician, you'll manufacture orthotic devices (orthoses). These can be splints, braces or special footwear to aid movement, correct deformity and relieve discomfort.
You will work with registered orthotists. The orthotist assesses the patient’s needs. You will then manufacture the orthosis using the most suitable materials. You'll work with a wide range of materials including plastics, metals, leather, carbon fibre and composites. Many orthoses are made to measure, designed specifically for each patient. Frequently you'll be involved in the design stage, using digital imaging techniques, CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided modelling).
You'll work with people of all ages with a wide range of conditions, including:
- cerebral palsy
- spina bifida
Who will I work with?
Where will I work?
As well as working in the NHS, some orthotic technicians work in private clinics and in companies which supply the NHS. In a hospital or clinic, you're likely to have contact with patients; in a manufacturing company you may not.
Although there are no set entry requirements, employers usually ask for five GCSEs (or equivalent) including English, maths and a science or engineering subject. A level 3 apprenticeship standard for prosthetic and orthotic technicians has been approved. To get onto an apprenticeship, you will need to apply for an apprentice position with a health care provider. You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and Find an Apprenticeship website.
Employers may ask for engineering or manufacturing experience. They may also ask for experience in healthcare, particularly for jobs where you have contact with patients. Even where this is not specified, it would be an advantage if you have worked in health or social care, either in paid employment or voluntary work.
Personal characteristics and skills needed
An orthotic technician needs to be:
- good with their hands
- able to work to deadlines
- methodical and accurate
- able to work from technical instructions
You'll also need
- practical skills
- design skills
- problem-solving skills
- using hand tools
- working with different materials
- IT and CADCAM skills
- good communication skills if working with patients
Training and development
You will be given the training you need for the job including:
- an introduction to the department and its procedures
- how to use the equipment
- manufacturing processes
You may have the opportunity to study for qualifications such as NVQ or BTEC. You may also be able to attend short courses on particular topics. Apprenticeships in engineering manufacture at intermediate (level 2) and advanced (level 3) may be available to enter this role.
Orthotic technicians can become members of the British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists (BAPO) or the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. Both organisations run courses, conferences and seminars where orthotic technicians can update their skills and network with others doing similar work.
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Orthotic technicians working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. You would typically start on AfC band 4. With further training and experience, you may be able to apply for more senior positions at bands 5.
Most orthotic technicians in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. They may work some evenings or weekends.
Terms and conditions will usually be different for orthotic technicians working outside of the NHS.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
With experience, you could become a team leader, supervising the work of other technicians. You could apply to train as an orthotist.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
Manufacturing companies and private clinics may advertise locally or on their own websites.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.
- Further information Expand / Collapse