Career Profile: Medical Appliance Technician
If you have ever broken an arm or a leg, you probably had to wear a cast for a few weeks. For people who need something more permanent, a medical appliance technician is the person who can help. These technicians work with plastic, metal, and other types of materials to make medical devices such as braces and artificial limbs to help people who need them.
Sometimes, babies are born without an arm or leg, and sometimes people lose limbs or develop other problems as they grow up. They might lose a hand or arm in an industrial accident or have trouble walking because their feet are no longer working properly. Together with doctors and prosthetists, medical appliance technicians build and repair artificial limbs to help people who are missing different parts. They might also design braces for people with weak legs or arch supports for people with foot problems.
Medical appliance technicians work with metals, plastics, and all kinds of other materials to make these types of devices. They need to be able to read and understand the instructions that come from doctors and others involved in care of the patient. Taking mathematics courses in high school will help prepare for taking measurements, and English classes are helpful for learning to read complicated instructions.
A high school diploma with on-the-job training is often enough for this work, although some people might prefer to get an Associates’ degree or a certificate from a university or community college. A certificate generally takes at least a year to complete, while the degree takes two or three years. Some people might also choose to specialize in this field after training in another medical career like nursing.
Being able to work alone or with people is important in this job. When medical appliance technicians receive instructions from the doctors or prosthetists, they use plaster molds to make braces or other devices out of materials like plastic. Sometimes, they weld, carve, or grind the pieces so that they fit better. Accidents with the welding and grinding equipment can cause injuries, but the job is not especially dangerous.
Since each patient is a different size, medical appliance technicians need to be careful to get the measurements right. Sometimes, this might involve getting patients to come in several times to fit the part properly and to get the colour right to match the patients’ skin.
The work of medical appliance technicians takes strength for welding and putting some of the parts together. Sometimes, people in this field have to work long hours to get a job done, although the hours are normally quite regular. Wages for people in this trade begin at about $39,000 and can rise to $80,000 per year or even more. Medical appliance technicians can continue in this job for many years, although arthritis, back problems, and other health issues may cause people to leave for other jobs as they age.
Artificial limbs and braces are important for many people. If you become a medical appliance technician, you can help them live better lives.
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Owl Guru. “Medical Appliance Technicians: Job Description.” https://www.owlguru.com/career/medical-appliance-technicians/job-description/.
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