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.
The program is taught in a competency based, self-paced format in which each student
works independently utilizing learning activity packets, numerous learning resources
and individual and group instruction provided by the instructors. This approach
allows students to be successful even when they have no related work experience,
such as a familiarity with power tools and equipment.
The Orthotics-Prosthetics classroom has individual workstations for 32 students.
The average student/faculty ratio is 15:1
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.
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.
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).
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
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
*Used by permission courtesy of American Orthotic Prosthetic Association.
Further information about compensation and demand may be found at
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.