If you like helping people to walk, run, or dance their way through life, then a career as a Podiatrist could be for you.
Podiatrists help patients prevent and manage injured, sore, or diseased ankles and feet to keep them healthy daily.
To become a Podiatrist in Australia, you usually need a bachelor's degree in podiatry. Also, you must register with the podiatry board in the state you want to work in.
This blog discusses how to become a Podiatrist in Australia. Explore their daily duties, qualifications, podiatry courses, degrees, required skills, average salary, and the steps to start this career.
1. What Are Podiatrists?
Podiatrists are foot doctors who specialize in inspecting, diagnosing, and treating foot and lower limb abnormalities, including bunions, calluses, heel pain, toe deformities, corns, warts, ingrown toenails, fungus-infected nails, and warts.
They assess the patient's nerve function and blood circulation to the foot to determine the problem and recommend treatment options, including drug therapy, behavioural changes, orthotic devices, and surgical repair.
These university-trained health professionals are licensed to perform surgical procedures on feet under a local anesthetic.
Podiatrists work with various patients, from children to sportspeople to older adults, in rural and urban settings such as multi-disciplinary health clinics, hospitals, private practice, and community health centres.
They may also work in occupational health or with general medical conditions that cause foot and leg problems, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral vascular disorders, and other neuropathies.
2. What Does A Podiatrist Do?
Podiatrists look after the health of people's feet by identifying, treating, and preventing foot disorders and educating people on good foot health.
The general duties of a podiatrist include the following:
Use medical histories, x-rays, lab tests, and physical examinations to determine the nature and extent of foot ailments, injuries, and deformities.
Prescribe and prepare orthotic inserts, replaceable pads, comforting and functional supports, splints, braces, and fabricated footwear for patients to protect and correct their foot deformities.
Perform massage, manipulation, physical therapy, or minor surgeries like ingrown toenail surgery under local anesthesia to remove and enhance abnormal conditions.
Advise patients about foot care and continued treatment to prevent foot disorders.
May provide rehab services to the physically disabled
Prescribe pain-relief medication and antibiotics for lower-limb infections.
Correspond with other healthcare providers for the best level of care.
3. Skill Requirements For A Podiatrist
Working in podiatry requires you to have the following skillset:
Interest in healthcare
Good communication skills
Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
Excellent motor skills
Effective communication skills
4. Podiatrist Qualifications In Australia
To become a Podiatrist, you must complete an accredited undergraduate podiatry degree and a registration with a state-level podiatry board in Australia.
Here is how to qualify for this role:
Complete your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in one or more prerequisite subjects such as English, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics.
Complete a Bachelor of Podiatric Medicine, Bachelor of Podiatry degree, Bachelor of Health, Applied or Exercise Science majoring in Podiatry. The coursework comprises theoretical and practical lessons and clinical experience.
Before undertaking clinical placements, students must obtain a National Police Certificate, immunisations, and a First Aid Certificate, including conducting a Working with Children Check.
If you have already studied for an approved undergraduate degree, progress your career pathway with a Master of Podiatric Practice.
Register with the Podiatry Board of Australia to practice as a podiatrist in any state or territory of Australia.
5. Steps To Become A Podiatrist In Australia
If you have the necessary job skills and find the work profile interesting, follow the steps below to kickstart your career as a Podiatrist in Australia.
Step 1: Get Qualified
You can enter the profession right after passing high school or completing an approved undergraduate degree in any discipline.
From High School
Complete a 3-4 years of full-time undergraduate podiatry courses in Australia. The coursework equips you with the knowledge to restore a person's independence and mobility and embark on a rewarding and varied career.
You learn practical skills to diagnose and manage illness and disability in the adult and elderly population. Furthermore, the opportunity to refine your skills through placements across various industry organizations makes you highly employable.
Popular universities offering podiatry undergrad degree courses include:
If you have an approved undergraduate degree, you can advance your career by applying for a Master's program to become a podiatrist. The most common postgraduate degree for graduate entry is 2-3 years of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.
Step 2: Get Registered
Once qualified, apply for registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to practice as a podiatrist in your preferred work state.
Step 3: Advance In Your Career
Take your career further with postgraduate studies in Master of Health Services Management or a Master of Research (Health Sciences).
The above courses prepare you for leadership and management roles across the diverse health and ageing sectors.
6. Employment Opportunities For A Podiatrist
Podiatrists work with people at different stages of life in various clinical settings, including hospitals, public and private practice, academia, and community health centres. Some of the typical workplaces are:
Community health centres
Specialist high-risk clinics
Sports medicine clinics
Daycare centres for aged
Nursing homes and hostels
In patients' homes
In private practice as a sole proprietor, partner, or employee
Teaching and research positions in podiatric colleges
7. Working Arrangements Of Podiatrists In Australia
Around 64% of Podiatrists work full-time for an average of 43 hours per week. They often work standard office hours, from 9 am to 5 pm. Occasionally, they will work on weekends.
The healthcare and social assistance industry is the primary industry that employs podiatrists. Though Podiatrists can find work in all regions of Australia, Victoria has a large share of employment compared to its population size.
Let us look at the state-wise employment of Podiatrist across Australia:
NSW - 28.2%
VIC - 31.1%
QLD - 17.4%
SA - 9.1%
WA - 10.1%
TAS - 2.4%
NT - 0.5%
ACT - 1.4%
The average age of Podiatrists is 36 years which is less than the average of other jobs, i.e., 40 years. Most Podiatrists are between the age group of 25 to 34 years.
Females constitute 60% of the workforce which is 12 percentage points above the average of all jobs, i.e., 48%.
8. Areas Of Specialization
Podiatrists may choose to specialize based on their experience and interests. Some standard fields of specialization include:
9. How Much Does A Podiatrist Make In Australia?
According to Pay Scale, the average salary for a Podiatrist is AU$67,408 per year. With experience, a podiatrist may earn a higher salary.
Entry-level Podiatrists (<1 year experience) - AU$60,368 per year
Early career Podiatrists (1-4 years of experience) - AU$65,347 per year
Mid-career Podiatrists (5-9 years of experience) - AU$77,489 per year
Experienced Podiatrists (10-19 years of experience) - AU$82,342 per year
Podiatrists in their late career (20 years and above) - earn an average salary of AU$85,494 annually.
Highest Paying Australian Cities For Podiatrists
Hobart TAS - $104,516 per year
Darwin NT - $98,227 per year
Goulburn NSW - $97,311 per year
Perth WA - $96,880 per year
Canberra ACT - $96,439 per year
Melbourne VIC - $96,377 per year
Gold Coast QLD - $96,323 per year
Townsville QLD - $93,676 per year
Brisbane QLD - $90,271 per year
Sydney NSW - $86,499 per year
10. Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take To Become a Podiatrist in Australia?
After Year 12, you must complete a 4-year bachelor's program in podiatry, i.e., Bachelor of Podiatry/Podiatry Medicine. Alternatively, graduates can enter this profession by completing a three years postgraduate degree in podiatry, i.e., Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.
Once qualified, you must register with AHPRA to start your podiatrist practice. So, it takes 4-5 years to become a Podiatrist in Australia.
Is Podiatry a Good Career in Australia?
A career in Podiatry is varied and fulfilling for the following reasons:
You get to work with a diverse range of patients, from kids to active sportspeople to older people.
Podiatrists get the workplace and work-hours flexibility that helps them achieve work-life balance goals.
Podiatrists can customize their careers to specialize in numerous areas, such as paediatrics, sports medicine, diabetic care, and biomechanics. This way, they get endless opportunities to upskill and advance in their career.
Most podiatrists set up their practice and become their bosses. They can pick their work hours based on how much they want to earn.
Last but not least, this rewarding career helps you address chronic conditions and make an incredible impact on a patient's recovery and quality of life.
Where Can I Study Podiatry in Australia?
Various educational institutions offer podiatry courses in every state of Australia. Refer to the below list to find a suitable course in your state:
New South Wales
Can You Become a Podiatrist Without a Degree?
No. You must have a relevant degree to become a podiatrist in Australia. It is because a podiatrist is a doctor specializing in treating foot disorders.
To gain specialist skills, you must complete at least a three-year bachelor's degree and get licensed before you can practice legally as a podiatrist in Australia.
Are Podiatrists in Demand in Australia?
A podiatrist plays a vital role in society's present and future healthcare, as it helps keep our population independent and mobile and eases the burden on hospitals and care facilities.
These medical professionals can address various medical issues, including ulcers, orthopedic deformities, musculoskeletal injuries, tumours, diabetic wound care, foot nail care, mobility issues, and skin lesions.
As podiatrists focus mainly on the feet and ankle, they are seen to lower general healthcare costs significantly. Incorporating podiatric care contributes to reduced falls, hospitalization for obese and diabetic patients, and opioid prescriptions.
According to Labour Market Insights, Podiatrists (ANZSCO ID 2526), the number of professionals is expected to grow very strongly from 6,400 in 2021 to 8500 in 2026.
Is Becoming a Podiatrist Hard?
As a podiatrist is a "doctor" of podiatry, you must undergo a similar rigorous qualification process as any medical doctor.
You must enrol in a medical school, undertake podiatry courses and earn a license from your state-level podiatry after earning a degree to become a qualified podiatrist.
Is Podiatry Easier than Medical School?
Yes. It is easier to admit into a podiatry school than a medical school. It is because average academic scores considered competitive for podiatry and medical school are significantly different.
The low admission requirements, i.e., ATAR and GPA requirements, make it easier to enter into podiatry school than allopathic or osteopathic medical school. However, admission is still competitive.
Furthermore, some medical schools may need additional coursework and admittance requirements (in addition to letters of recommendation and personal interviews).
Can a Podiatrist Do Surgery?
Yes. A podiatrist can specialize in foot surgery and become a podiatric surgeon to perform surgeries.
They must pass special exams in general foot health and surgery for foot ailments and injuries and get licensed to perform foot surgeries in the state they work in.
Is a Podiatrist in Australia a Doctor?
A Podiatrist is not a medical doctor; they are a foot doctor or a doctor of podiatry. They specialize in examining, identifying, and treating patients who require foot and ankle care.
Why are Podiatrists Not Doctors?
Podiatrists are trained to treat foot and lower limb-specific issues and can perform surgery, apply casts, design corrective devices, and prescribe drugs.
In contrast, medical doctors have a much broader focus. They can choose from disciplines with distinct patient populations and lifestyles, so they have plenty of options to specialize.
What is The Difference Between a Podiatrist And a Chiropodist?
Podiatrists are healthcare professionals who are occasionally referred to as 'chiropodists.'
Before 1993, you would have been referred to a chiropractor if you had foot or lower leg issues. However, after 1993, what were once called Chiropodists, are now referred to as Podiatrists.
Both these job titles are almost the same, except that Podiatrists are trained to deal with a broader range of issues and conditions impacting the lower limb and foot.
Nowadays, Podiatrists can treat diabetic ulcers, biomechanics, Paediatrics (Kid's Feet), and dermatological problems.
Being a podiatrist is a rewarding career in Allied Health. With ample job opportunities across Australia, the profession allows you to help people maintain healthy feet and promote better holistic health.
So, if you want to help Aussies back on their feet, and live a pain-free and active life, then take the first steps towards a rewarding career in podiatry today.
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