How Do You Become a Prosthetist?

The BLS states that a prosthetist must complete a master’s degree that is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program (CAAHEP). After graduation, prosthetists must complete a one-year accredited residency through the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Most states require prosthetists to be either licensed through the state or privately certified through a professional organization.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The four-year programs available for prosthetists are usually called prosthetics technology. These programs offer a unique blend of clinical and technical skills training. Students are given the foundational knowledge needed to stimulate the medical mind and encourage design creativity and innovation. Students who graduate from these programs are prepared to become prosthetic technicians who help clients with fabricating, fitting, repairing and maintaining their devices. These graduates may work in hospitals, specialty clinics and rehabilitation facilities.

Basis courses in orthotics and prosthetics focus on professional practice standards and the supportive role of the technician. Students usually complete laboratory projects that test their skills and knowledge. Classes on pedorthics teach students how to fabricate foot orthoses inserts and perform orthopedic modifications. Students study the foot and ankle skeletal structures along with advanced biomechanical principles. Classes on orthotic prosthetic skill development teach skills related to plaster work, fabrication and thermosetting. Students learn about metal contouring, leather working and sewing finishing skills.

Earn a Master’s Degree

While there are only a handful of graduate-level programs for prosthetists, these degrees offer very advanced and highly specialized classes. For example, there are classes on spinal orthotics, which teaches students how to fabricate plastic and metal spinal orthoses. Students study the biomechanical principles of spinal structures, orthoses and orthometry.

Coursework on orthotics for upper extremities teaches students about the skeletal structures and biomechanical principles of upper extremity orthoses.

Orthotic prosthetic biomaterials classes develop an understanding of the biomaterials used in prosthetic and orthotic fabrication. Students learn about the materials’ characteristics and how they impact fabrication techniques. Classes on trans-tibial prosthetics teach students about the impression procedures and interface materials used for foot and ankle mechanisms. Classes on trans-radial and trans-humeral prosthetics teach students about alignment and socket design variations for upper-extremity prosthetic components.


Many states require prosthetics to become certified through organizations like the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC-OP). ABC certified prosthetists are specially trained and certified health technician professionals. They know how to make, fit and adjust prostheses as well as comprehensively manage prosthetic patient care. ABC practitioners are certified to independently provide patient care or supervise those who provide prosthetic patient care. Candidates who meet the ABC requirements and pass the three certification exams are given the Certified Prosthetist (CP) credential.

The written exam takes three hours and contains 165 multiple choice questions. The exam assesses the candidate’s knowledge of patient practice and care management. The written exam covers anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, disease pathologies, material science and professional ethics. The simulation exam is also three hours, but contains seven case scenarios that examine the candidates’ analytic problem solving skills. The simulation topic cover device recommendations, prescription criteria and clinical follow-up protocols.

Anyone who wants to become a prosthetist will need to complete a residency program through the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) and maintain their professional credentials through continuing education classes.

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