Certification as an Orthopedic Technologist

Orthopedic technologists assist physicians in setting and removing casts and splints.
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Orthopedic technologists assist physicians and surgeons in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. You may gain an industry-standard certification from the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists. The organization offers two certifications: the Orthopedic Technologist - Certified, and the Orthopedic Technologist - Surgery Certified. The NBCOT requires that you meet minimum standards and a pass a thorough examination to achieve either certification.


    Candidates meet eligibility standards through one of three routes. Candidates choosing route A must have at least two years of experience working as an orthopedic technologist under the supervision of an orthopedic physician, surgeon or any physician specializing in the musculoskeletal system. Route B requires that you complete an orthopedic technologist training course. Route C requires that you be a full-time, certified or licensed athletic trainer whose primary duties relate to the field of orthopedic technology. You must also work under the direct supervision of a musculoskeletal specialist. All routes require that you submit a physician verification form that has been notarized and signed by a supervising physician or a physician adviser for route B candidates.

Education Requirements

    The NBCOT maintains strict educational requirements for candidates choosing eligibility route B. The easiest way to meet these requirements is to attend a training program recognized by the NBCOT. With these programs, submit your certificate of graduation along with your physician verification form. Candidates who attend a program that is not recognized by NBCOT must submit proof that their program meets NBCOT standards. These standards include a curriculum that covers topics deemed necessary by NBCOT, classroom instruction of at least 450 hours, a clinical rotation or an "externship" component with at least 200 practice hours, and qualified and licensed instructors.


    The OTC exam focuses on patient assessment, casting, splinting, orthopedic appliances, traction and surgery. The OT-SC exam focuses on pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative management as well as regulatory and ethical responsibility. Exam proctors allow you three hours to complete 150 scored, multiple-choice questions. The exams take place four times per year at testing locations throughout the U.S. It is a computer-based examination that is only available in American English. After the NBCOT approves your application, you are given information by email or post on testing dates, locations and how to set up an appointment.


    All candidates must pay a $50 application fee. The examination fee is $375 for both certifications, and a late registration fee of $100 applies to all candidates who register after the deadline. Rescheduling fees vary: the NBCOT assesses $50 if you reschedule more than six days prior to the exam, or $100 if you reschedule less than six days prior to the exam. The NBCOT allows employers to pay any fees, if they choose. Payments must be in the form of a check or money order.

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