O&P Assistant

 What is an ABC Certified Assistant?

An ABC certified assistant supports the ABC certified practitioner in providing comprehensive orthotic and/or prosthetic patient care. Under the guidance and Indirect Supervision of the ABC certified practitioner, certified assistants may perform orthotic and/or prosthetic procedures and related tasks in the management of patient care. This includes fabrication, repairs and maintenance of devices to provide maximum fit, function and cosmesis that reflect the level of education and training received.

 Scope of Practice

​​ABC's Certified Orthotic and/or Prosthetic 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 Code of Professional Responsibility which promotes and assures the overall welfare of the patient and the integrity of the profession.


Once you have met the ABC requirements and passed the certification exam, you 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 requirements to be eligible to take the assistant exam. Please refer to the​ ABC Assistant Candidate Guide for specific eligibility requirements.


  • ​Completion of three semester hours in each of the following courses (each course must be from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning):  ​

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


​For single discipline certification, completion of one year of clinical experience (a minimum of 1,900 hours) under Direct Supervision of an ABC Certified Orthotist or Prosthetist. Please reference the ABC Scope of Practice for more information on Direct Supervision.

​For dual discipline certification, completion of 18 months of clinical experience in both orthotics and prosthetics with a minimum of six months in each discipline.


Once you have met the eligibility requirements, submit your application online.

 You will need the following documentation, which can uploaded to your online dashboard once you start the application process or you can email certification@abcop.org.
For more information regarding the application process, please refer to the ABC Assistant Candidate Guide.

Retaking the Exam: You may register to retake the exam by applying online​.


Exam Format and Availability

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. 

The exam is given using computer-based testing (CBT) and is offered every other month at over 350 locations nationwide. Check out the testing locations in your area.                                                               

Exam Preparation
The development of valid exams 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 exam question references and a recommended reading list to aid you as you prepare for your exam.

We 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

​Application (non-refundable)​​$125​
​Exam Fee​$225
​Exam 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 and will be prorated for your first year.  Due by December 1st.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

Exam Cycle​Application Deadline
October 12-31​, 2020August 1, 2020
December 7-12, 2020October ​1, 2020
​2021 Exam Dates and Deadlines
February 1-6, 2021December 1, 2020
April 12-17, 2021​February 1, 2021
June 7-12, 2021April 1, 2021
August 2-7, 2021June 1, 2021
October 4-9, 2021August 1, 2021
​December 6-11, 2021​October 1, 2021



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.

How often should I take a pre-certification course?
We accept courses that are completed within five years of the date of your application.

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?
Use the Assistant Exam Candidate Self Assessment Checklist as a guideline for the areas you should focus on and the amount of time you should be spending in each area. You are required to submit an Assistant Competency Attestation Form completed by your supervisor to verify your experience.

I will not have completed my required 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.

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.

Application Pro​cess

What if I missed the application deadline?  Can I still apply?
Yes. You have thirty days to apply after the deadline, but will incur the $75 late fee.

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​.

​When will ABC notify me of my application status?
We will send a notice of your eligibility status via email and mail within four weeks of receiving your application. Check your application status by logging in to your MY ABC​ account.

What if I don't yet have the required documents by the application deadline?
Your application will be denied; however, we will defer your exam fees to the subsequent cycle. If we do not receive the required documents by the deadline for the next cycle, your application will be denied, and a refund of your exam fee(s) will be issued.  It is your responsibility to reapply for eligibility with the required fees.

Exam Process

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

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

What if I register and then realize I can’t take the exam that day?
You have thirty days prior to the exam date to cancel without penalty. If less than thirty days, you will incur a $55 fee. 

When will I receive my exam results?
You will receive an immediate on-screen score report when you finish your exam. You will also be emailed an official score report within 24 hours.

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?
Once your initial application is approved, you are eligible to take the exam a maximum of four times within a three-year period. If you fail the exam four times or if your eligibility period has expired, you must reapply for eligibility. Please reference the ABC Assistant 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/cycle?
Yes, you are able to take more than one exam during the same day, space and time permitting.

After the Exam

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?
Once you are certified, you have a five-year certification cycle in which you must earn continuing education credits and submit an annual fee. See the Guide for Maintaining Certification for information on assistant continuing education credit requirements.