Orthotics & Prosthetics Technician

Jennifer, Orthotics Prosthetics Technician Orthotics and prosthetics are the rapidly changing
fields involving orthopedic braces and artificial limbs. The industry provides a vital service to the rehabilitation medicine community and to individuals with disabilities.

Orthotics is the designing, fitting and manufacturing of orthopedic braces for individuals with disabling conditions of the spine and extremities. Prosthetics is the designing, fitting and manufacturing of artificial limbs for people with limb loss. These individual disciplines are traditionally combined as a single industry because they share similar scientific background and manufacturing processes.

Orthotics and Prosthetics Technician

Technicians in the industry work with plastic, metal, wood, plaster and leather to fabricate orthotic and prosthetic devices. They fabricate artificial limbs and braces according to measurements and prescription requirements under the supervision of a certified prosthetist or a certified orthotist. They also repair orthotic and prosthetic appliances and make orthopedic shoe modifications. The work includes routine maintenance and repair of prostheses and orthoses, maintaining equipment, and assisting in the design of complex devices. Technicians experience satisfaction on the job because they play a vital role in helping people become independent and reach their full potential. The work is relatively clean and does not involve much heavy lifting, however, it requires a person to be on their feet all day, moving at a fast pace. With few exceptions the hours and workdays are "regular" (nine to five, Monday through Friday).

Successful technicians must have good manual dexterity, and be able to use their upper extremities in a wide range of motions, which include pushing, pulling, bending, stretching, grasping, etc. An artistic perception, good communication skills, the ability to use power tools and be able to adapt to constantly changing situations are also desirable traits. Technician students must also develop a working knowledge of measurements, basic mathematics and human anatomy.

The Spokane Falls Community College Orthotic Prosthetic Technician Program is accredited by the National Commission of Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) www.ncope.org.

Gainful Employment Disclosures

If you are interested in further exploring the SFCC Orthotics-Prosthetics Technician Program, contact the Orthotics Prosthetics Program Coordinator. This program has a specialized entry process. Individual advising is required.

Phone (509) 533-3732
Email Clay.Wright@sfcc.spokane.edu
Address Orthotics & Prosthetics - MS 3190 
Spokane Falls Community College
3410 West Fort George Wright Drive
Spokane, WA  99224-5288

Spokane Falls Community College offers the only Orthotics-Prosthetics technician program in the western United States. Students are trained in basics of orthopedic brace and artificial limb fabrication in a two year competency-based program. Each discipline (Orthotics and Prosthetics) includes three quarters of study and lab work plus an off-site clinical experience for each.

Competency-Based Education

The program is taught in a competency based format in which each student works with reasonable independence utilizing learning activity packets, numerous learning resources and individual and group instruction provided by the instructors. This approach increases the potential for students who have some experience with hand and power tools and possess fine and gross motor hand skills to be successful.

Student/Faculty Ratio

The Orthotics-Prosthetics classroom has individual workstations for 32 students. The average student/faculty ratio is 15:1

Clinical Experience

At the conclusion of each three quarter block of formal classroom training, the student usually travels to another city and participates in a five week clinical experience to practice fabrication skills under the supervision of a certified orthotic or prosthetic practitioner.

Open Entry/Exit

Unlike most college programs that start in autumn, students have the flexibility of entering the program at the beginning of Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. Students usually finish the program two years from their starting date. Orthotics-Prosthetics classes are not held during the summer.

Certificates of Completion

An individual certificate is awarded upon completion of each discipline, allowing a student to take only Prosthetics or Orthotics if he or she wishes. However, job opportunities are greater for technicians with skills in both areas.

The A.A.S. degree

An Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree is awarded with completion of both disciplines. The A.A.S. is a vocational arts degree and is not transferable. Students take one additional class each quarter to fulfill their general education requirement to earn the A.A.S. degree.

Program Accreditation

The Orthotics Prosthetics Technician Program at SFCC is one of four technician programs in the U.S., and is accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic Prosthetic Education, in cooperation with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

New Graduates

Graduates with a certificate in each discipline have entry level skills and are immediately eligible to participate in the American Board for Certification national technician registration exam. Qualified technicians are in demand nationwide and enjoy challenging work, good pay, regular hours, benefits (typically) and the satisfaction of working in a profession that helps people return to independence.

Classes at SFCC

Students in the Orthotics program take courses in the use of power tools, materials, and human anatomy. They develop skills in modifying shoes and fabricating lower limb orthoses, spinal orthoses, and upper limb orthoses. Students in the Prosthetics program also learn the proper use of hand and power tools and materials. They take courses in human anatomy, below-knee and above-knee Prosthetics, followed by below-elbow and above-elbow Prosthetics. The SFCC technician program gives students the opportunity to work in an environment similar to the industry and gain hands-on experience. To remain enrolled in the program, students must demonstrate the ability to work safely with a wide range of power tools, and maintain satisfactory progress in the curriculum.


Orthotics and Prosthetics is one of today's growing health related professions in which there is a strong need for qualified technicians. Graduates are qualified for job opportunities nationally in orthotic and prosthetic facilities, hospitals and central fabrication facilities. Students of the SFCC Technician Program have gone to work from coast to coast in facilities all over the country. Placement in the greater Spokane area is unlikely.


Technicians usually enjoy full or partial benefits with their jobs, in addition to job security and regular working hours. Salaries vary greatly depending upon the part of the country one is working in, the size of the firm, the experience and ambition of the individual, etc.

The 2009 Operating Performance and Compensation Report conducted by the American Orthotic Prosthetic Association found that the national average salary range for ABC registered technicians with an average of ten years experience was $39,996 - $48,489*. Entry level pay for new graduates is typically $12 - $17 per hour.

*Used by permission courtesy of American Orthotic Prosthetic Association.

Further information about compensation and demand may be found at O*Net Online.

Future demand

According to recent surveys, the need for professionals in the Orthotics-Prosthetics industry is expected to continue as the "baby boom" generation ages and provides an increase in the demand for Orthotic and Prosthetics services.

The SFCC Orthotics-Prosthetics Program is housed in the recently constructed Technical Arts building. Students enjoy the use of a 9,000 square foot laboratory which is separated into specific fabrication areas surrounding a large central lab. The laboratory is designed to closely duplicate a large, state of the art orthotic-prosthetic facility.

Main Lab

Image of Main Lab

The 2800 square foot main lab provides ample room for each student to work and learn in a safe, well lit, pleasant environment. Each student has an individual workstation consisting of a rock maple work bench, appropriate vises and bending fixtures, and alignment equipment. Storage lockers are provided for fabrications and personal belongings. Computers are provided for access to learning materials.

Plaster Room

Image of Plaster Room

The plaster room is a large, bright area giving the student the opportunity to create plaster forms called "positive models" over which many kinds of orthoses and nearly all prostheses are fabricated.

Metal Fabrication Room

Image of Metal Fabrication Room The metal fabrication room gives students the opportunity to learn to use power equipment for fabricating, modifying and finishing metal components. The room is large and has many pieces of equipment so many students can work without having to wait. The generous space between each piece of equipment allows students to work in safety.

Sanding Room

Image of Sanding Room The sanding room is equipped with modern machinery used to shape artificial limbs. The equipment is used to trim and polish plastics for braces and limbs.  It also cuts, bores and routs materials as necessary. In addition to normal shop equipment, there are six socket routers specifically built for the orthotics-prosthetics industry. There are at least two of each heavily used machine so there is seldom a wait. A high volume dust collector reduces particulates in the air for a healthier breathing environment.

Plastic Room

Image of Plastic Room The plastic room is used to fabricate limbs and braces from laminating resins and vacuum formed thermoplastics. Two large convection ovens and a modern infrared oven provide plenty of heat so that many students can work at once. There are ample vacuum stations for laminations and an excellent ventilation system to help control fumes from the plastic resins.

Sewing Room

Image of Sewing Room The sewing room is used to produce the many leather and fabric components that are used on limbs and braces. Belts, straps and suspension components used to secure appliances are custom made for the individual. This area is also used to perform shoe modifications for adaptation to orthotic components. It features large work tables to spread out leather and lay out large pieces of fabric.

CBE Lab 

Image of Competency Based Education Lab The Competency Based Education lab is a large student resource area for the use of all students in technical arts programs. Orthotics-Prosthetics students use this area to access video, slide, and CD learning resources as part of their learning activity packages. O and P students also use this area for quiz taking, testing and accessing the internet.

Bernard Hewey
Bernard Hewey- A.B.C. Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist – Orthotics Instructor
Bernard began practice as an orthotist in 1973 in the United States Army. Following his graduation from the University of Washington Baccalaureate Program for Prosthetics and Orthotics in 1980 he practiced in the Midwest before returning to the Seattle area in 1987. Bernard has assumed the Orthotics instructor position in 2004.
Office Phone (509) 533-3733
Fax (509) 533-4143
Email bernard.hewey@sfcc.spokane.edu
Clayton Wright
Clayton Wright - A.B.C. Certified Prosthetist - Prosthetics instructor, program director
Mr. Wright has worked in private practice and hospital settings in the Seattle area as a prosthetics practitioner since 1980. He is a graduate of the University of Washington Baccalaureate Program for Prosthetics and Orthotics and received his certificate to practice prosthetics in 1982. He has been instructing the prosthetics curriculum at SFCC since 1993.
Office Phone (509) 533-3732
Fax (509) 533-4143
Email clay.wright@sfcc.spokane.edu


Transtibial Prosthetics
(Course 114)

Transfemoral Prosthetics
(Course 126)

Transtibial Prosthetics ImageTranstibial Prosthetics Image Transfemoral Prosthetics Image

Transradial Prosthetics
(Course 134)

Transhumeral Prosthetics
(Course 136)

Transtibial Prosthetics Image
Transtibial Prosthetics Image
Transhumeral Prosthetics Image

Ankle Foot Orthotics
(Course 156)

Knee Ankle Foot Orthotics
(Course 164)

Ankle Foot Orthotics Image
Ankle Foot Orthotics Image
Knee Ankle Foot Orthotics Image

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