What does a chiropodist do?
A chiropodist (also known as a podiatrist) keeps feet healthy. As a chiropodist you will care for your patient’s feet and lower legs, treating common problems like bunions and performing physical exams, blood tests and x-rays. It may sound like a walk in the park (pardon the pun), but you will need to be medically trained and deal with a wide range of ailments, diseases and deformities.
Day to day, your job can vary massively. Every patient that walks through your door will bring with them a different problem, and it’s your job to get them back on their feet, literally. From children with athlete’s foot, to elderly people with ulcers and arthritis, you will need to be knowledgeable in a wide range of conditions. Like all areas of medicine, there is also the option to specialise, for example in sports medicine or working as a surgical chiropodist.
Is this the job for me?
If you don’t like feet, then the answer is no. If, however, you like helping people and are interested in the biology of the legs and feet, then this could be a job description worth reading. A rewarding field, you’ll leave work every night with the satisfaction of knowing that people are now pain free, and it’s all thanks to you. That said, like all jobs in the medical profession, you will have to deal with the body and health situations that would make many members of the general public feel pretty squeamish.
Treating a wide range of patients, you will need to have a calm and friendly nature and be good at reassuring your patients through pain or treatment. You may also be asked to visit schools and health centres in your local area to give talks on healthy feet, so being a people person helps.
What are the working hours like?
As a chiropodist for the NHS, you will usually work a pretty normal nine till five job, with the possibility of some extra hours should you want them. In the private sector, you might have to work unsocial hours to accommodate patients.
What’s the salary like?
Wages for a junior chiropodist usually start anywhere between £21,388 and £27,901 a year, depending on where you practise. With experience, you could work as a specialist chiropodist and earn up to £34,000.
Where will I be based?
You will usually work in a clinic, which could be attached to a hospital, health centre or GP surgery, however you might also be asked to treat patients in their homes.
How do I get there?
Unlike some of the career guides we write, becoming a chiropodist involves a number of simple steps. To get your foot in the door (sorry, we couldn’t help it), you’ll need a degree in podiatry, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council. To get accepted onto this course, you will need at least five GCSE’s (A-C), including maths, English and biology, plus two or three A-levels, including one in a biological science.
Of course, some courses will accept other qualifications such as an Access to Higher Education course or a Diploma in Foot Health Practice. Once you have graduated, you can get state registration with the HCPC – this is also a great way of showing you are continuing your education, as you will need to complete Continuing Professional Development activities every year.
Need more info?
We’ve given you a brief overview on what it takes to work as a chiropodist, but if you feel like you need some more information, here’s some good places to start –
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
Health Professionals Council
The Alliance of Private Sector Chiropody and Podiatry Practitioners