O&P Assistant

 What is an ABC Certified Assistant?

The ABC certified assistant supports the ABC certified practitioner in providing comprehensive orthotic and/or prosthetic patient care. Under the guidance and supervision of the ABC certified practitioner, certified assistants may perform orthotic and/or prosthetic procedures and related tasks in the management of patients. This includes fabrication, repairs and maintenance of devices to provide maximum fit, function and cosmesis that reflect the level of education and training received. ABC certified assistants may not use their credential as independent practitioners engaged in unsupervised patient care.

 Scope of Practice

ABC's Certified Orthotic and/or Prosthe​tic Assistant Scope of Practice​ details the specific functions of a certified assistant. The initial evaluation and formulation of the treatment plan is the responsibility of the supervising orthotist and/or prosthetist. The certified assistant may also fabricate, repair and maintain orthoses and/or prostheses.

Additionally, the certified assistant is required to support and conform to the ABC Co​de of Professional Responsibility which promotes and assures the overall welfare of the patient and the integrity of the profession.


Candidates who have met the ABC requirements and passed the certification exam will be awarded the Certified Orthotic Assistant (COA) or Certified Prosthetic Assistant (CPA) credential. Candidates who have met the ABC requirements and passed certification exams for both disciplines will be awarded the Certified Prosthetic-Orthotic Assistant (CPOA) credential.


You must meet the following specific education and experience requirements prior to the application deadline for your desired exam cycle to be eligible to take the ABC Assistant Certification Exam. For more information regarding the eligibility criteria, please reference the ABC Assistant Candidate Guide.


  • ​​Possess a high school diploma, GED or college degree and

  • ​Successfully complete three semester hours each of the following courses.  Each course must be from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning. ​

      • ​​​Human Anatomy
      • ​​​​​General/Fundamental Physics
      • ​​​Medical Terminology

If you received your education in a foreign country, please refer to the AB​C Assistant Candidate Guide  for specific eligibility requirements.


  • ​For certification in one discipline, you must complete ​one year of clinical experience (a minimum of 1,900 hours) under the supervision of an ABC Certified Orthotist or Prosthetist to coincide with the discipline in which you are seeking certification.

  • If you are seeking dual discipline certification, you must complete 18 months of clinical experience in both orthotics and prosthetics with a minimum of six months in each discipline. 


Once you have met the education and experience requirements, simply submit your application for approval as a candidate for the certification exam.

How to Apply:  You must apply online and follow the instructions for submitting your application.  

Required Documentation:  The following ​documents may be uploaded to your account or emailed to certification@abcop.org​

Retaking the Examination: You may register to retake the exam by using the online application.


Exam Description
The three-hour, multiple-choice exam consists of 165 items designed to measure your knowledge of patient and practice management. Knowledge assessed on the exam includes anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, disease process, pathologies, material science, ethics and professionalism.

Exam Format and Availability
The exam is given using computer-based testing (CBT). The exam is offered every other month at over 300 locations nationwide. For a list of testing locations in your area, please click here​.

Click to view Prometric's ​​What to Expect on Test Day​ video​.​​​

Examination Resources
The development of valid examinations begins with a practice analysis that gives a clear and concise definition of the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for competent job performance. Experts have identified the critical job components in the professions of orthotics and prosthetics using a process that includes interviews, surveys, observation and group discussions.

The Practice Analysis of ABC Certified Assistants in the Disciplines of Orthotics and Prosthetics identifies performance domains for assistants. Within each performance domain, several identified tasks provide the basis for questions in the examinations. The Practice Analysis also identifies associated knowledge and skills.

The ABC Assistant ​Candidate Guide provides sample questions along with a list of examination question references and a recommended reading list to aid you as you prepare for your examination.

Examination Preparation
ABC has created numerous resources to help you prepare for your ABC Orthotic ​and Prosthetic Assistant certification exams. Please click here to access these resources.​

 Fees & Dates

Fees:  The following fees are required for each discipline

  • Application (non-refundable)         $125
  • Examination Fee                               $225
  • Examination Retake Fee                  $225
  • Late Fee (non-refundable)               $75
*Applications submitted after the application deadline for the applicable exam cycle will be subjected to the late fee.

Annual Fee (required once certification is awarded): $125

Examination Dates and Deadlines

Exam Cycle​Application Deadline
February 10-15, 2020December 1, 2019
April 6-11, 2020​February 1, 2020
June 8-13, 2020April 1, 2020
August 3-8, 2020June 1, 2020
October 12-17, 2020August 1, 2020
​December 7-12, 2020​October ​1, 2020

Exam Locations The exam is offered at over 300 locations nationwide. For a list of testing locations in your area, please click here.


How do I know if the university/college that I am enrolling in is accredited?
Most universities/colleges are accredited through an accrediting body. This includes online programs as well. If you are unsure, please contact ABC at (703) 836-7114 or at certification@abcop.org.

How do I know if the course that I am enrolling in meets the eligibility criteria?
Most entry level courses will meet our eligibility criteria. If you are unsure, please contact ABC at (703) 836-7114 or at certification@abcop.org. 

I didn’t complete my course before the application deadline, can I still apply?
No, you must complete your course either on or before the application deadline.
I will not have completed my one year of experience by the application deadline, but I will have them by the exam date. Can I still apply?
No, the experience requirement must be completed on or before the application deadline.

​How and where do I obtain the one year of experience?
Your experience can be gained from any business that primarily provides orthotic and/or prosthetic patient care. A list of accredited facilities can be located using the ABC Directory. If your experience is from a business that is not primarily engaged in orthotic and/or prosthetic patient care, your experience will be evaluated on an individual basis to determine whether it meets the intent of the requirement.

How do I log my hours?
Patient care experience is defined as contact with a patient from the initial assessment to the follow-up care. We recommend that you keep a record of these patient visits. However, you will only need to submit the Assistant C​ompetency Attestation form with your application. 

What fees do I submit with my application?
The application and exam fees are due when you submit your application. Please note that the application fee is non-refundable.

If I am applying for both disciplines, do I submit an application fee for each credential?
Yes, application fees are required for each discipline. You must also submit two separate applications if you are applying for orthotics and prosthetics at the same time.

I am extending my credential, do I submit an application fee again?
Yes, the application and exam fees for the second credential are due when you apply.

What documents do I submit with my application?
Please include the following:

What if I can’t find my high school or college diploma or GED certificate?
Unfortunately, we will not be able to approve your application if you cannot submit one of the above documents.

I obtained my education outside of the United States. What documents do I need to submit?
You must submit a credential evaluation from the World Education Service (WES).

My supervisor is certified by another credentialing body, can he/she attest for my hours?
No, your supervisor must meet the credentialing requirements listed on the Assistant Competency Attestation form

​When will ABC notify me of my application status?
You will receive notification of your eligibility status within four weeks of receipt of your application. This notification will be sent directly to you via email as well as mailed to your home address. You can also check your application status by logging in to your My ABC account.

Once my application is accepte​d, how do I register for the exam?
ABC will send you an email with information on how to register for a specific time, date and location with Prometric, our testing provider.

Are there exam prep materials available?
Yes, assistant exam prep materials  are available, including a test content outline, practice analysis of the O&P profession, exam references and a recommended reading list. In addition, there are sample written exam questions and information on available exam review courses (provided independently of ABC).​

What if I can’t find a testing center close to me?
Unfortunately, availability at the testing centers is on a first come, first served basis with limited seating. If you are having difficulty finding a location close to you, please contact us at 703-836-7114 ext. 229 or at certification@abcop.org.

What if I can’t make it to the exam?
You are provided a thirty day cancellation period without incurring a penalty. If you cancel in less than thirty days, there is a $50 fee.

When will I receive my exam results?
You will receive an immediate on-screen preliminary score report when you finish your exam. Your official score report will be provided in four weeks.

If I fail my exam, when can I re-take it?
You may immediately register for the next available exam cycle.

How many times can I take the exam?
When your initial application is approved, you are provided with a three year eligibility window in which you are allowed four attempts at the exam.

What happens if I’ve taken the exam more than four times?
If you have failed the exam more than four times or if your eligibility period has expired, you are required to reapply for eligibility. Please reference the ABC Assistant Book of Rules and Candidate Guide for more information.​​​

If I have applied for more than one discipline during an exam cycle, can I take all of my exams during the same day and/or cycle?
Yes, you are able to take more than one exam during the same day, space and time permitting.

If I passed my exam, when will I receive my certificate?
Certificates are mailed six weeks after the conclusion of the exam cycle.

What do I do to maintain my certification?
After obtaining certification, you are awarded a five-year certification cycle in which you must accrue continuing education credits and submit an annual fee. Click here ​for information on assistant continuing education credit requirements.

How much is my annual fee and when is it due?
Your annual fee will be $125 and is due by December 1st every year. Your first year fee will be prorated. ​​