©2024 by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics, Inc. All rights reserved.

No part of this document may be produced in any form without written permission of the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics, Inc.

Practice Analysis of ABC Certified Assistants in the Disciplines of Orthotics and Prosthetics

January 2012


Results Related to Professional Background, Work Setting and Demographic Information

This section provides background information for the sample of respondents. The survey included a questionnaire regarding professional history and then addressed the respondent’s work environment, educational background and demographic information.

Survey respondents had an average of 14 years of experience in the O&P profession, as shown in Table 1, with very little difference in experience between orthotic and prosthetic assistants.

Table 1

Years of Experience, Summary Data

Table 2

Years of Experience, Frequency Distribution
Up to 5 years21.6%18.8%
6 to 10 years18.0%16.3%
11 to 15 years21.6%28.8%
16 to 20 years16.2%17.5%
21 or more years22.5%18.8%


Table 3

Years of experience as O&P Assistant
Up to 3 years56.5%55.1%
4 to 6 years18.5%14.1%
7 to 10 years13.9%19.2%
11 to 15 years4.6%7.7%
16 or more years6.5%3.8%

One of the goals of the current study was to explore the employment histories of those obtaining the ABC Certified Assistant credential. Not surprisingly, the perspective from which the respondents completed the survey was reflected in their past employment in positions indicating specialization in either orthotic or prosthetic-related fields.

Table 4

Positions held before becoming O&P Assistant
O&P Technician65.4%89.6%
Orthotic Fitter57.0%28.6%
Medical assistant5.6%2.6%
Physical therapy assistant4.7%2.6%
Occupational therapy assistant1.9%0.0%
Administrative assistant in O/P facility13.1%10.4%

Totals do not sum to 100%. Multiple responses permitted.

Table 5

ABC Credentials Held

Totals do not sum to 100%. Multiple responses permitted.

Respondents indicated obtaining numerous intangible benefits from their certified assistant credential, including 78% gaining increased responsibility and 61% gaining increased independence. There was little difference between the experiences of the orthotic and prosthetic perspectives, except that those answering from the orthotics perspective were slightly more likely to have gained an increase in pay than did the prosthetic respondents (34% versus 27%, respectively). Of those mentioning Other benefits, the most common responses were increased knowledge and pride.

Table 6

Benefits of Obtaining ABC Assistant Credential
Increased independence64.6%56.1%
Increased responsibility77.0%79.3%
Increased respect54.0%54.9%
Increased job opportunities53.1%54.9%
Increased pay33.6%26.8%


Totals do not sum to 100%. Multiple responses permitted.

The following table shows the percentage of assistant work time respondents spent performing activities related to each discipline. Those answering from the orthotic perspective were more likely to devote most of their assistant work time (90%) to orthotics, with 10% in prosthetic-related activities. Those answering from the prosthetic perspective had a more varied experience, with 78% of their assistant work time devoted to prosthetics and 23% spent on orthotic-related activities.

Table 7

Percentage of Work Time in each Discipline


Most respondents worked in an orthotic and/or prosthetic facility, (79% for those answering from the orthotic perspective and 85% for those answering from the prosthetic perspective), followed by hospital-based practice. 

Table 8

Primary Work Setting
Orthotic and/or prosthetic facility78.6%85.0%
Hospital-based practice12.5%11.3%
Physician’s office2.7%0.0%
University-based practice2.7%2.5%

Slightly more than half of the respondents were the only orthotic/prosthetic assistant at their work setting, and most of the remainder worked at facilities where there were two to four orthotic/prosthetic assistants. 

Table 9

Number of Orthotic and/or Prosthetic Assistants at Work Setting
I am the only orthotic/ prosthetic assistant51.4%53.8%
2 – 447.7%43.6%
5 – 70.9%1.3%
8 – 100.0%1.3%
10 or more0.0%0.0%

Table 10

Number of Orthotists and/or Prosthetists at Work Setting
2 – 454.5%57.5%
5 – 714.5%12.5%
8 – 102.7%3.8%
11 or more8.2%6.3%

The highest level of formal education attained by respondents varied somewhat depending on the discipline from which they answered the survey. In general, those answering from the orthotic perspective had higher levels of formal education than did those answering from the prosthetic perspective. Overall, the greatest percentage of respondents had a high school/GED education (42%), followed by an associate’s degree (24%) and a bachelor’s degree of some kind (19%). 

Table 11

Highest Level of Formal Education
High school/GED34.8%53.2%
Associate’s degree25.9%20.3%
Bachelor’s degree in O/P1.8%1.3%
Bachelor’s degree in other field or discipline 21.4%12.7%
Master’s degree in O/P0.0%1.3%
Master’s degree in other field or discipline 4.5%2.5%

The majority of respondents were male (83%), although the percentage of males was higher for those answering from the prosthetic than from the orthotic perspectives (94% versus 75%, respectively).


Table 12



Table 13

Under 251.9%6.3%
25 – 3420.4%23.8%
35 – 4432.4%35.0%
45 – 5434.3%26.3%
55 – 6410.2%8.8%
65 or over0.9%0.0%


Table 14

Racial/Ethnic Background
African American/Black9.3%2.6%
American Indian/Alaska Native0.9%5.2%
Caucasian/White (non-Hispanic)80.4%77.9%
Mixed race1.9%1.3%
Pacific Islander0.0%1.3%
Other (Not specified)0.9%0.0%