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How to Become a Podiatrist: Steps to Take

December 6, 2022
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Steps to Becoming a PodiatristWhat Does a Podiatrist Do?Podiatrist SalaryFAQs: Becoming a Podiatrist

”Jonathan

Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/13/22

Have you ever considered podiatry as a career? Follow along to learn how to become a podiatrist in this step-by-step guide.

Podiatrists are valuable members of the healthcare system who focus mainly on diagnosis and treatment of ailments pertaining to the foot, ankle, and lower leg. If you’re interested in podiatry as a specialty, there are a few things you should know before you get started. For starters, did you know podiatrists do not take all the typical MD steps during their education?

Here we’ll go over all the steps you’ll need to take to become a podiatrist. We’ve included educational requirements, salary, job prospects, and more. 

Let’s get started!

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Steps to Becoming a Podiatrist

Below are all the educational steps you’ll need to complete in order to become a podiatrist. All of the steps listed here are necessary unless otherwise specified.

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Before you can start looking at podiatry schools, you’ll have to complete a bachelor’s degree. Much like medical school, podiatry schools require a bachelor’s degree in order to be considered for admission into their programs. 

During your bachelor’s degree, you should make sure to take all of the necessary prerequisite courses. Each school has individual requirements, so make sure to take a look at your target schools admissions criteria when planning your final year of courses in your bachelor’s degree. Although each school’s requirements vary, some common podiatry prerequisites are:

Your major during your bachelor’s degree will not typically have an effect on your chances of admission into a podiatry program. Just make sure whichever major you choose allows you to take the necessary prerequisite courses. 

2. Get Into Podiatry School

Once you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree, you can start getting ready to apply to a podiatry school. You should analyze the individual requirements of each one of your target programs before applying, as well as the school’s history, mission, and values. Most podiatry schools require the following:

Beyond the mandatory requirements, you should also consider building up your CV with volunteer work, shadowing, internships, and any other experiences that could help you become a highly-qualified candidate. If you are currently applying for podiatry school and need help with any area of your application, consider reaching out to an experienced admissions advisor for end-to-end assistance. 

Once you’ve gotten into podiatry school, you can begin to focus on your specialty. Podiatry schools are very similar to allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. A degree in podiatry typically takes four years to complete, begins with general science courses, and ends with clinical rotations. However, there are also some key differences. 

In the second half of podiatry school, your education will shift primarily to the lower leg region of the body. Everything you learn, especially in your clinical rotations, will begin preparing you to become a well-rounded podiatrist. Once you’ve graduated, you can begin applying to residency programs. 

3. Complete a Podiatry Residency 

Much like MD and DO students, podiatry school graduates must complete a residency program before they can begin practicing independently. Podiatry residency programs typically take at least two years to complete, although the length can vary. Whichever residency program you choose should be accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME) of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

4. Obtain State Licensure

In order to practice podiatry after residency, you’ll have to obtain state licensure. Podiatry licenses are issued by individual states and therefore have varying requirements. Depending on the state, you may have already been required to obtain licensure (training or full) for residency training. 

For up-to-date information on state licensure requirements and how to apply, you must contact the individual state licensing board. You should consider obtaining licensure for each state you may want to practice in if you intend to travel to avoid hiccups later on.

5. Start Looking for a Position

Congratulations! Once you’ve completed all the necessary educational steps and obtained licensure, you can start looking for a job as a podiatrist in a clinic or hospital.

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What Does a Podiatrist Do?

A doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) is a type of physician who works on the foot, ankle, and

connective areas of the lower leg. According to the Florida Orthopedic Institute, some of the common ailments that podiatrists diagnose and treat are the following:

Podiatrists are considered doctors even though they do not attend typical allopathic or osteopathic medical schools. Podiatrists attend podiatry schools, which are similar to traditional medical schools in most ways aside from the specific focus on podiatry.

Podiatrist Salary

As of November 2022, podiatrists in the United States make an average annual salary of $218,961. This number can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including location, experience, individual institution, and more. Generally speaking, podiatry salary ranges between $180,945 and $289,883 annually.

Podiatrist average salary
Source: Salary.com

Podiatrist salary has shown a general incline since 2020. Podiatry as a career is ranked 17th by US News in terms of overall salary and job satisfaction.

FAQs: Becoming a Podiatrist

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to become a podiatrist. 

1. Is Becoming a Podiatrist Hard?

Yes, becoming a podiatrist is no easy feat. The path to becoming a podiatrist is very similar to the traditional physician's educational path. Podiatry school simply allows you to begin specializing in one area of medicine early on. 

2. Is Podiatry School Easier Than Medical School?

Podiatry school is very similar to med school. You’ll have to take the MCAT, attend a four-year program after your bachelor’s degree, focus heavily on sciences, and do clinical rotations. You’ll also have to take most, if not all, of the same prerequisites before podiatry school. 

Podiatrists also have to complete at least two years of a medical residency. The main difference is the focus on podiatric medicine and the lower-leg region. 

3. Do Podiatrists Make Lots of Money?

The average podiatry salary is $218,961 per year in November of 2022. 

4. Do Podiatrists Have to Take the MCAT?

Yes, most podiatry schools require the MCAT. We recommend taking the MCAT even when applying for podiatry schools that do not require the test just to ensure you are prepared for your next steps. 

5. Are Podiatrists Doctors?

Yes, podiatrists are doctors even though they attend podiatry school rather than the traditional allopathic or osteopathic medical schools. They are referred to as Doctors of Podiatric Medicine or DPM.

Final Thoughts

If you want to become a podiatrist, you should prepare yourself as if you were gearing up for traditional medical school. Make sure to take all the necessary prerequisite courses during your bachelor’s degree, take the MCAT, and build up your premed CV with volunteer, shadowing,  and/or relevant work experience. 

Podiatric schools are challenging and can be competitive, just like traditional allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. You should only follow this educational path if you are 100% certain that you want to specialize in podiatry early on. It may be easier to become a podiatrist after obtaining an MD than it would be to become a different type of physician as a DPM. 

Good luck!

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