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Podiatrist Career Guide

Are you someone who is intelligent and loves learning? If the answer is yes, then we think you may thrive as a podiatrist!

Podiatrists are physicians who specialize in treating problems or diseases that affect the foot, ankle, and lower leg. As thoroughly trained doctors, podiatrists can diagnose, treat, and even surgically correct any issue that arises in the lower extremities.

To become a podiatrist takes a lot of commitment. Podiatrists will need a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine. This takes 4 years to complete. To get accepted onto a DPM program, aspiring podiatrists must have at least 3 years of undergraduate education and must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).  After earning a DPM, podiatrists must then apply to and complete a 3-year podiatric medicine and surgery residency (PMSR) program.

My patients often express their appreciation for the work I do. This not only makes me smile but energizes my passion for podiatry. At the end of the day, knowing that I have improved my patients’ quality of life is the greatest reward.

Dr. Farlyn Charlot-Wadley

Podiatrist Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Podiatrist Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Podiatrist field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33852 Podiatrist Female 32 $130,000 Gaithersburg, MD 01/01/2010

Overview

What a podiatrist does

Podiatrists are physicians who specialize in treating problems or diseases that affect the foot, ankle, and lower leg. As thoroughly trained doctors, podiatrists can diagnose, treat, and even surgically correct any issue that arises in the lower extremities. Podiatrists work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, specialty clinics and some may run their own podiatry offices. Regardless of where they work, the typical duties and responsibilities of a podiatrist include:

  • Assessing the condition of a patient by reviewing their medical history, listening to their concerns, and performing physical examinations
  • Diagnosing foot, ankle, and lower leg problems through physical exams, x rays, medical laboratory tests, and other methods
  • Providing treatment for foot, ankle, and lower leg ailments
  • Performing foot and ankle surgeries
  • Advising and instructing patients on foot and ankle care
  • Prescribing the correct medications
  • Refer patients to other physicians or specialists if they detect different health problems

Why they are needed

The answer to this is pretty self explanatory. Humans get injured and will need the help of skilled podiatrists. Whether its foots and ankle aliment issues (e.g., calluses, ingrown toenails, heel spurs, arthritis, congenital foot, ankle deformities and arch problems) or foot and leg problems associated with diabetes and other diseases, podiatrists help to treat and cure a wide range of problems. Without podiatrists, many of us would suffer greatly with various issues of the lower limb!

The pros and cons of a career as a podiatrist

Pros:

  • Podiatrists start on an excellent salary, which quickly increases with experience and time
  • Podiatrists have an excellent career outlook and high job security
  • Podiatrists are highly respected and regarded members of the community
  • There is high levels of personal satisfaction
  • No two days are the same and there is rarely a boring day as a podiatrist
  • Specialist podiatrists get to interact with lots of different people

Cons:

  • The education required to become a podiatrist is lengthy and expensive
  • It can be very stressful and highly pressured job
  • Podiatrist often acquire a lot of responsibility, even when they have just graduated, which can place a huge amount of pressure on them
  • Podiatrists often have to work long hours, which includes weekends and evenings

Employability

Job Market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of podiatrists is projected to show little or no change from 2019 to 2029. The aging population will continue to see an associated increase in its rates of chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes and obesity) and as a result will have mobility and foot-related problems that will require treatment from podiatrists. However, the demand for podiatrists is limited because patients may acquire services from a non-podiatrist physician – this therefore limits the employment growth.

Career paths

Podiatrists must have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine, which takes 4 years to complete. The courses for this degree are similar to those for other medical degrees. They include courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology, among other subjects. During their last 2 years, podiatric medical students gain supervised experience by completing clinical rotations.

To get accepted onto a DPM program, aspiring podiatrists must have 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. Aspiring podiatrists must also complete the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in order to get accepted onto a DPM program.

After earning a DPM, podiatrists must then 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 then need to complete additional training in specific fellowship areas, such as podiatric wound care or diabetic foot care, among others.

Example Job Titles for Podiatrist

Below is a list of common job titles in the Podiatrist field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for podiatrists was $126,240 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent of podiatrists in the United States earned less than $54,150, whilst the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

The highest paying industry for podiatrists in the United States was Offices of physicians, where the median annual salary was $141,920. This was followed by offices of other health practitioners ($135,330), hospitals ($124,200) and the federal government ($116,900).

Autonomy and flexibility

When a podiatrist is in the early stages of their training, they will be supervised by experienced podiatrists. Therefore, when in the early stages of their career podiatrists will not have too much flexibility or autonomy. However, once the complete all the relevant education, podiatrists are given lots of responsibility! Podiatrists are encouraged to be self-directed and make their own decisions, this means that they will have a great deal of autonomy. Flexibility is perhaps lower, even for qualified podiatrists, as they are often busy and have little control over the hours they work. Even physicians who own their own practice will find the hours choosing them.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a podiatrist, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities available, are:

  1. Florida, where the average annual salary is $123,050
  2. Alabama, where the average annual salary is $112,598
  3. South Carolina, where the average annual salary is $112,828
  4. Georgia, where the average annual salary is $113,526
  5. North Carolina, where the average annual salary is $107,347

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California and Hawaii.

Work environment

Podiatrists held about 10,500 jobs in the United States in 2019. 62% of podiatrists were employed by offices of other health practitioners. 14% were employed by offices of physicians, 9% by the federal government, 7% by hospitals and 5% by self-employed workers.

Podiatrists may work in group practices with other physicians or specialists. Podiatrists may work closely with other physicians or nurses and often they work in a cohesive and forward thinking team.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Podiatrist careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Podiatrist career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Podiatrist.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

Personality types

There is little empirical exploration as to the personality types of successful podiatrist. However, one study found that the ISTJ was most common personality type of physicians – and podiatrists are physicians. ISTJs, or otherwise known as the ‘inspector’, are responsible and reserved. They typically have a strong focus on detail and doing things correctly, which allows podiatrists to spot, diagnose and treat medical conditions in the lower limbs with the utmost accuracy. Finally, ISTJs like to follow regulations and stick to schedules, this makes them reliable, predictable and dutiful: essential qualities of a podiatrist!

Accomplishment and mastery

All podiatrists train for a long in order to become qualified and licensed (3 years of an undergraduate degree, 4 years of podiatry school and then a 3 year residency), the sense of accomplishment is likely to be VERY high when they make it to the end and qualify! What is more, is that throughout their career, podiatrists will continue to feel accomplished when they help others to feel better and have an improved quality of life.

Meaning and contribution

It goes without saying that the work of a podiatrist has high meaning and contribution. Their work makes a huge contribution to society and helps improve the lives of many people who suffer with lower limb issues. To further increase the sense of meaning and contribution, podiatrists may decide to conduct voluntary work in deprived parts of the world and help those who are truly in need!

Life fit

Most podiatrists work full time, but there are opportunities for part time work. Podiatrists’ offices may be open in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients, and therefore some podiatrists may have to work evenings and weekends. Self-employed podiatrists or those who own their practice may set their own hours. However, the reality is that podiatrists are busy and even those who are self-employed are likely to work long hours. In hospitals, podiatrists may have to work occasional nights or weekends, or may be on call.

Who will thrive?

Thriving podiatrist will have qualities such as:

  • The willingness to commit to the educational process (3 years undergraduate study, 4 years studying a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)  and a 3 year residency)
  • A genuine passion for helping and improving the lives of others
  • Communication skills and compassion are important to thrive as a podiatrist 
  • Due to the likelihood that medical emergencies will occur, individuals who remain calm, composed and work well under pressure are likely to thrive in a medical environment

Who will struggle?

You are likely to struggle as a podiatrist if you aren’t physically fit enough to meet the requirements of lifting disabled patients or spending periods of time bent down/bent over. If you prefer to work alone, rather than as part of a team, you may struggle with the teamwork and communication aspect of modern day medical work (e.g., podiatrists must work closely with physicians and nurses). Finally, those who cannot remain calm in unforeseen circumstances will struggle with the emergency situations that may arise.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Podiatrists are highly skilled professionals. To become truly successful, podiatrists must have certain skills such as:

  • Communication skills, as podiatrists will need to communicate effectively with patients and with other healthcare staff
  • Detail-orientation, as podiatrists must be able to accurately monitor and record various piece of information
  • Business management skills, as podiatrist may want to set up their own clinic and will therefore need a business mindset
  • Empathy and compassion, as podiatrists will work with patients who are distressed and in pain. They must be able to relate to and understand each patient
  • Organizational skills, as podiatrists must be able to keep records up to date and manage their time so that they stick to their schedule
  • Leadership skills, as specialized physicians may be responsible for supervising junior physician and instructing other staff (such as nurses)
  • Problem-solving skills, as podiatrists must evaluate a  wide range of  symptoms or look at charts and x-rays and establish what is wrong

Education

Podiatrists will need a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine, which takes 4 years to complete. To get accepted onto a DPM program, aspiring podiatrists must have at least 3 years of undergraduate education and must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

After earning a DPM, podiatrists must then apply to and complete a 3-year podiatric medicine and surgery residency (PMSR) program.

Certificates

In every state, podiatrists must be licensed. In order to 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.

Although not a necessity, many podiatrists will then choose to become board certified as this demonstrates commitment, experience and skill. Board 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.

How to Become

Podiatrists are physicians who specialize in treating problems or diseases that affect the foot, ankle, and lower leg. As thoroughly trained doctors, podiatrists can diagnose, treat, and even surgically correct any issue that arises in the lower extremities. Podiatrists work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, specialty clinics and some may run their own podiatry offices.

Those who tend to have successful and fulfilling careers as a podiatrist tend to have a genuine interest in helping others, will work well under pressure, will have excellent communication skills and they are organized and detail-oriented.

Immediate action

The main thing that aspiring podiatrist can do is to obtain relevant work experience. Whilst studying for an undergraduate degree, podiatrists should volunteer in a local hospital. Similarly, in order to have the best chances of getting onto a DPM program it is advisable to have as many extra curricular activities as possible. So, you should aim to do as much as possible outside of school (e.g., sports, teaching, quizzes, drama etc).

Education and learning

Podiatrists will need a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine, which takes 4 years to complete. To get accepted onto a DPM program, aspiring podiatrists must have at least 3 years of undergraduate education and must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

After earning a DPM, podiatrists must then apply to and complete a 3-year podiatric medicine and surgery residency (PMSR) program. After completing this, podiatrists must obtain a license.

FAQs

Ask a Question

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ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33852 Podiatrist Female 32 $130,000 Gaithersburg, MD 01/01/2010

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