Podiatrist Careers








$116,440 /yr

$55.98 /hr

All Stats from www.BLS.gov

Podiatrists are foot, ankle, and lower leg doctors. They treat patient injuries, diagnose problems, and often perform surgeries. Health issues that fall within the range of a podiatrist’s expertise can range in seriousness from ingrown toenails, arch problems, and calluses to major fractures.

What Is a Podiatrist?

Most podiatrists operate in a clinical setting, meeting with patients, discussing their concerns, and examining the foot, lower leg, and ankle area to diagnose injuries and illnesses. Methods of diagnosis may include x-rays, laboratory testing, or physical exams. Podiatrists also perform minor surgeries on the foot and ankle area, such as removing bunions or bone spurs.

Podiatrists can prescribe medication as needed, and they may also refer patients to other specialists for continued care in cases where a larger health problem is evident. Podiatrists who run their own practices may also spend time in hiring and training, as well as different aspects of business development and management.

Podiatry Specializations

Different specialties within the podiatry profession include:

  • Sports medicine. Some podiatrists specialize in treating the types of foot and ankle injuries that are commonly experienced by athletes in different fields.
  • Pediatrics. Some treat foot, ankle, and lower leg injuries and illnesses exclusively in children.
  • Advanced surgical specialties. Some podiatrists are primarily surgeons, and may perform advanced procedures such as full ankle or foot reconstructions, bone grafts, or installation of implants.

How to Become a Podiatrist

The educational path that leads to a podiatry career varies depending on your specialty. However, most podiatrists follow a path that includes:

A four-year Bachelor’s degree. There is no specific major requirement for undergraduates who want to go to medical school; however, you will need to take a minimum number of biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and other classes in the hard sciences—and get good grades. Medical degree programs are highly competitive, and it can be difficult to earn a place in a postgraduate program without above-average grades.

A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree (DPM). The Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree takes about four years to earn after completion of a Bachelor’s. There are nine colleges of podiatric medicine in the United States, and they require courses In anatomy, disease pathology, pharmacology, and other topics. Students also perform rotations in a clinical setting during their last two years of education.

A three-year residency. Once you have earned a DPM degree, you must undergo a three-year residency program in your chosen specialized field. Some fields, such as those that involve advanced surgery, may require additional clinical training.

Professional licensure. All fifty states require podiatrists to be licensed. In all states, you will have to pass a state-level exam and pay a fee to earn a license. In many states, you must have completed a residency program before being eligible to earn your license. Podiatrists must take continuing education classes and renew their licenses on a periodic basis.

Board certification. Certification is not required, but it is strongly encouraged, especially in the areas of podiatric surgery, primary care podiatry, and orthopedics. The American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the American Board of Podiatric Medicine both provide certifications in these areas, and certifications generally require a minimum amount of work experience as well as passing an exam.

Podiatry and Online Education

The medical profession tends to be one of the most difficult in which to earn an online degree, because of the necessity of clinical training and the often strict requirements of licensing and certification boards for school accreditation. However, it is possible to take some classroom-based training toward a degree online in some schools.

In general, accredited online degrees are more accepted at the Bachelor’s level than at the postgraduate level; however, entry into podiatry programs in the United States is highly competitive, and for-profit online colleges in particular are not likely to be well regarded. Bachelor’s students interested in online education as preparation for podiatry school are advised to look into hybrid programs at nonprofit universities.

Podiatrist Salary

Podiatrists earned an average salary of $118, 030 according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook’s 2010 data. The top 10% earners in the profession earned over $166,400, while the bottom 10% earned less than $50,150. Those who run their own practices typically earn more than those employed by hospitals, but they also have higher overhead costs.

Podiatrist Job Outlook

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for podiatrists are projected to grow 20% within the next decade. The demand for new podiatrists is expected to be driven by an aging population with increasing health care needs in all areas, including podiatry.

Pros and Cons of a Podiatry Career

Podiatry requires a minimum of about twelve years of education—sometimes more. This is a significant education investment. In addition, competition for spots in the country’s few podiatry schools are fierce. However, once you graduate, this is a high-paying field. It is also unlikely you will encounter a market flooded with recent graduates—the low number of podiatry degree programs in the United States keeps numbers down. That, plus the projected increased demand for podiatrists as the population ages, generally adds up to good job prospects for recent graduates.

Where to Look for Podiatrist Jobs: