What They Do: Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems.
Work Environment: Most podiatrists work in offices of podiatry, either on their own or with other podiatrists. Some work in group practices with other physicians or specialists. Others work in private and public hospitals, in outpatient care centers, or for the government.
How to Become One: Podiatrists must earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and complete a 3-year residency program. Every state requires podiatrists to be licensed.
Salary: The median annual wage for podiatrists is $145,840.
Job Outlook: Employment of podiatrists is projected to grow 2 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of podiatrists with similar occupations.
Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. They diagnose illnesses, treat injuries, and perform surgery involving the lower extremities.
Podiatrists typically do the following:
Podiatrists treat a variety of foot and ankle ailments, including calluses, ingrown toenails, heel spurs, arthritis, congenital foot and ankle deformities, and arch problems. They also treat foot and leg problems associated with diabetes and other diseases. Some podiatrists spend most of their time performing surgery, such as foot and ankle reconstruction. Others may choose a specialty such as sports medicine, pediatrics, or diabetic foot care.
Podiatrists who own their practice may spend time on business-related activities, such as hiring employees and managing inventory.
Podiatrists hold about 11,000 jobs. The largest employers of podiatrists are as follows:
|Offices of other health practitioners||51%|
|Offices of physicians||15%|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||8%|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||7%|
Offices of podiatry are counted among offices of other healthcare practitioners.
Some podiatrists work in group practices with other physicians or specialists. Podiatrists may work closely with physicians and surgeons, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, medical assistants, and dietitians and nutritionists.
Most podiatrists work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Work schedules may vary and include evenings or weekends to accommodate patients. Some podiatrists, such as those who work in urgent-care facilities, may need to be on call for emergencies. Self-employed podiatrists or those who own their practice may have flexibility in setting their own hours.
Get the education you need: Find schools for Podiatrists near you!
Podiatrists must earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and complete a 3-year residency program. Every state requires podiatrists to be licensed.
Podiatrists must have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine. A DPM degree program takes 4 years to complete. There are 9 colleges of podiatric medicine accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education.
Admission to podiatric medicine programs requires at least 3 years of undergraduate education, including specific courses in laboratory sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as general coursework in subjects such as English. In practice, nearly all prospective podiatrists earn a bachelor's degree before attending a college of podiatric medicine. Admission to DPM programs requires taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Courses for a DPM degree are similar to those for other medical degrees. They include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology, among other subjects. During their last 2 years, podiatric medical students gain supervised experience by completing clinical rotations.
After earning a DPM, podiatrists must apply to and complete a 3-year podiatric medicine and surgery residency (PMSR) program. Residency programs take place in hospitals and provide both medical and surgical experience.
Podiatrists may complete additional training in specific fellowship areas, such as podiatric wound care or diabetic foot care, among others.
Podiatrists in every state must be licensed. Podiatrists must pay a fee and pass all parts of the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam (APMLE), offered by the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners. Some states also require podiatrists to take a state-specific exam.
Many podiatrists choose to become board certified. Certification generally requires a combination of work experience and passing an exam. Board certification is offered by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, the American Board of Podiatric Medicine, and the American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry.
Compassion. Since podiatrists provide care for patients who may be in pain, they must treat patients with compassion and understanding.
Critical-thinking skills. Podiatrists must have a sharp, analytical mind to correctly diagnose a patient and determine the best course of treatment.
Detail oriented. To provide safe, effective healthcare, a podiatrist should be detail oriented. For example, a podiatrist must pay attention to a patient's medical history as well as current conditions when diagnosing a problem.
Interpersonal skills. Because podiatrists spend much of their time interacting with patients, they should listen well and communicate effectively. For example, they should be able to tell a patient who is slated to undergo surgery what to expect and calm his or her fears.
The median annual wage for podiatrists is $145,840. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $61,350, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
The median annual wages for podiatrists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Offices of physicians||$208,000 or more|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||$173,180|
|Offices of other health practitioners||$127,690|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||$96,700|
Most podiatrists work full time. Podiatrists' offices may be open in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients. Self-employed podiatrists or those who own their practice may set their own hours. In hospitals, podiatrists may have to work occasional nights or weekends, or may be on call.
Employment of podiatrists is projected to grow 2 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.
Despite limited employment growth, about 300 openings for podiatrists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
The U.S. population continues to age and to see an associated increase in its rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. As a result, people will continue to have mobility and foot-related problems, and podiatrists will be needed to treat many of these conditions. However, demand for podiatrists is expected to be limited because many patients may acquire services from a non-podiatrist physician or other appropriate caregiver.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.