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Is Medical/Dental Instruments a Good Career Path?

Is Medical Dental Instruments a Good Career Path

Medical and dental instruments is a growing industry on the cutting edge of advances in medicine, materials science, and technology. But is medical/dental instruments a good career path? If you have a knack for sales or are tech-savvy and passionate about saving and improving lives, it may well be!

What is the medical/dental instruments industry?

The World Health Organization defines a medical device as “any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, appliance, implant, reagent for in vitro use, software, material or other similar related article, intended by the manufacturer to be used, alone or in combination for a medical purpose.” The WHO states that there are an estimated 2 million different kinds of medical devices on the market, divided into over 7000 different categories. 

The medical/dental instruments industry encompasses non-pharmaceutical products used in medical/dental treatment. These include: 

  • Medical implants (Pacemakers, insulin pumps, etc.)
  • Diagnostic equipment (MRI scanners, X-ray equipment)
  • Prosthetics (limbs, dental implants)
  • Surgical equipment (lasers, laparoscopes, scalpels)
  • Bandages, enema kits, non-electric wheelchairs
  • Dental drills and cleaning tools
  • Home and lab testing equipment (test strips, bioreactors, blood vials)
  • HIV tests, pregnancy tests
  • Defibrillators, pacemakers

Medical procedures would not be possible without medical devices. Medical devices are used both by medical professionals and by regular people at home. They are used to diagnose, treat and monitor illnesses and to assist people with disabilities.

What companies are in the medical/dental instruments field?

According to Medical Product Outsourcing, the top 15 medical device companies by market share were Medtronic, Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens Healthineers, BD, GE Healthcare, Stryker, Cardinal Health, Philips, Baxter, Boston Scientific, EssilorLuxottica, Danaher, 3M Health Care and B. Braun. 

Medtronic is a global producer of medical devices including insulin pumps and pacemakers, but is perhaps most known for revolutionary cardiac devices, such as battery-powered pacemakers. 

Siemens Healthineers is a market leader in diagnostic imaging – i.e. computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), molecular imaging, x-ray and ultra sound products. 

Boston Scientific is most well-known for developing the Taxus Stent, a drug-eluting stent (DES) which is used to open clogged arteries. 

EssilorLuxottica is a manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses, frames and sunglasses. 

In addition to these huge conglomerates, there are also many smaller medical technology device companies. Biotricity is a biotech startup that created Bioheart, a wearable EKG that pairs with a smartphone to track users’ heart health.

Ambu is a pioneer in the field, creating single-use endoscopes and VivaSight 2 DLT, a double-lumen tube used in single-lung ventilation. Xandar Kardian innovated a way to monitor patients’ vitals using an ultra-wideband impuse radar. Vivos Therapeutics has innovated a diagnostic technology called VivoScore, which uses a single-sensor ring recorder to assess sleep quality to diagnose sleep apnea. 

What do medical/dental instruments jobs pay?

The average Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst salary is $54,195 per year. A Quality Assurance Analyst or Specialist for a medical device company is responsible for maintaining programs and processes that ensure high quality products as well as ensuring that the company complies with regulatory requirements. This job usually requires a Bachelor’s Degree and an educational background in the sciences – engineering, biology or chemistry. 

The average Quality Control (QC) Inspector salary is $156,008 per year. A quality control inspector for a medical device company inspects medical device labeling and components, often using specialized tools like micrometers, calipers, optical comparators, and the like. For this job, a Bachelor’s Degree is preferred, but experience in the field is more important, because of the technical nature of the job and the high degree of job-specific skills required. Quality Control Inspectors usually earn a competitive salary with benefits. 

A Customer Service representative for the medical device industry makes $34,648 per year. A customer service representative for a large medical device company typically works in a call center, responding to orders and customer service inquiries. This position requires a high school diploma, and possibly previous experience in a call center or customer service position. Being bilingual is always a plus for these types of positions. 

is medical/dental instruments a good career path

The base salary for a Medical Device Engineer ranges from $68,956 to $94,124, with a median base salary of $80,812. A medical device engineer designs and develops medical devices such as MRI scanners and X-ray machines as well as medical-technical systems and installations. This job typically requires a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, often Mechanical Engineering, and a high degree of experience in product design in a medical research environment. 

A validation engineer earns $89,944 per year on average. Validation engineers are responsible for making sure that medical devices are in working order. It is critical that medical devices operate safely and effectively because many of them – especially in-vitro diagnostics – represent a high risk to the patient. A degree in engineering is a requirement for this job. Typically, a validation engineer will have a degree in automation, mechanical or design engineering. 

One emerging trend in the medical devices field is the need for increased cyber security. Small and midsize hospitals are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks due to the lack of cybersecurity expertise among the staff and the interconnectivity of devices within the hospital. The median salary for cybersecurity analysts is $103,590.

Another emerging trend in the medical device industry is artificial intelligence and machine learning. Artificial intelligence is used to detect and treat diseases in oncology, cariology, gerontology and endocrinology. Chronic diseases and medical care often use software as a medical device (SaMD). The average salary for a machine learning engineer is $123,869 per year, while the average Artificial Intelligence Engineer in the U.S. makes $135,000 per year. 

Robotic technologies are used in physiotherapy and are now even being used to make up for nursing staff shortages. The average salary for a robotics engineer is $92,966 per year. 

A medical device sales representative earns $155,358 per year on average, including base salary and bonuses. Sales reps for the medical device industry sell a company’s devices to clients, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Medical device sales is very lucrative – though it offers a range of salaries depending on different factors like what company you work for, top representatives can earn north of $400,000 on a good year.

An entry-level sales rep position typically requires a graduate degree in life sciences, engineering, medicine or pharmacy. However, an advanced degree in business or marketing is also acceptable. Mid- to senior-level roles require a high degree of experience and demonstrated proficiency in business, customer relations, knowledge of medical devices, problem-solving skills and critical thinking. 

One challenge to acquiring a job in the medical devices industry is that they often require advanced degrees. A Bachelor’s Degree is usually the minimum requirement, but some jobs can require a master’s or PhD. Even for non-technical jobs like sales, it’s helpful to be knowledgeable about medicine, since your clients are hospitals and doctors.

How many jobs are available in medical/dental instruments?

There are nearly 519,000 jobs in the medical technology industry in the United States. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 17,900 jobs in Biomedical Engineering. The job outlook for biomedical engineering is good, with 10 percent growth expected by 2031. 

The medical devices industry continues to grow, which will mean the creation of new jobs. Unlike many industries, the medical device industry has grown since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, by 10-14 percent. By contrast, during the period of 2017-2019, the highest growth rate was 4 percent. According to Fortune Business Insights, the worldwide medical devices market was worth $488.98 billion, and is projected to grow from $495.46 billion in 2022 to $718.92 billion by 2029. 

Is medical/dental instruments a good career path for you?

The medical/dental instruments industry is a good career path for you if you are passionate about saving lives, extending lives and improving the quality of people’s lives by increasing access to life-saving medical technology. Medical/dental instruments is a good career path for you if you are interested in biology, engineering and medicine but are more interested in Research and Development than clinical practice. The medical device industry is for you if you possess the skills, passion and work ethic to make it through some of the toughest degree programs out there (many of which begin with intentionally grueling weed-out courses).

The medical devices industry may also be for you if you are passionate about technological innovation. The smart medical devices industry is on the rise, reflected in the cultural zeitgeist with the popularity of FitBits and wearable blood pressure monitors. The exciting world of technological advancements has brought us devices that help patients manage their health, such as continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) for patients with diabetes. This gives people more control over their quality of life in addition to reducing hospital readmissions. By pursuing a career in the medical devices industry, you can use your engineering knowledge and talent to save and improve lives. 

The medical devices industry is not for you if STEM is not your thing. An engineering or research position in the medical/dental devices industry can be less than ideal for those who thrive on constant human interaction, because of the solitary nature of the work. A people-oriented person may enjoy medical device sales, however. And finally, the medical device industry is not for you if you are a “fake it till you make it” type of person, because people’s health and lives are on the line.

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Tonie Leatherberry was at Deloitte for nearly three decades where she was the principal architect of The Board Leadership Forum and the NextGen CEO Academy, each of which has had a meaningful impact, ultimately placing more than 70 Black leaders into executive-level and board roles. As Chair Emeritus of the Executive Leadership Council, she created the Chairman’s Council of Academic Achievement to address achievement gaps for students of color in America’s educational systems, and as President of the Deloitte Foundation, the mission was to drive initiatives to develop future leaders through education. She is a passionate leader who has devoted much of her professional life to creating opportunities for women and people of color. Tonie is Lead director for Direct Digital Holdings, and a Board Director at Zoetis Inc. and American Family Insurance.

Cindie Jamison was elected Chair of the Darden Restaurants Board (NYSE: DRI) in September 2023, having served as a Director since October 2014 as part of a complete Board replacement slate through Starboard Value’s proxy fight. Since 2013, she has also served on the Office Depot Board (NASDAQ: ODP) where she Chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Compensation Committee. In May 2015, she joined the Big Lots, Inc (NYSE: BIG) Board, and became Chair in May 2022. In May 2023 Cindie stepped down from the Tractor Supply Company Board (NASDAQ:TSCO), a position she has held since 2002, where she was Chairman of the Board, after serving as Lead Director, and Chair of the Audit, Compensation & Corporate Governance Committees. Cindie joined the Board of Save the Children in February 2024.

David Chun, Founder and CEO, Equilar, Inc., has led Equilar since its inception to become one of the most trusted names in the corporate governance community. David has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Players in Corporate Governance” by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Disruptor Award by 2020 Women on Boards and Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business. David speaks publicly on corporate governance and board diversity matters, including events hosted by The Conference Board, Deloitte, EY, HR Policy Association, KPMG, NACD, NASDAQ, NYSE, The Society for Corporate Governance and Stanford’s Directors’ College. Prior to founding Equilar, David was a Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, a global investment bank that has since merged with Credit Suisse. Before DLJ, David was a management consultant with Bain & Company and also Kenan Systems, a telecom software developer acquired by Lucent Technologies. David serves on the boards of the Commonwealth Club of California, PGA Reach, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG). He is on Nasdaq’s Center for Board Excellence Advisory Board and Catalyst’s Women on Board Advisory Council. David is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Past Chair of the SF Bay Chapter, a founding member of the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) and a former board member of the Wharton Center for Entrepreneurship and the Asian Pacific Fund Community Foundation of San Francisco.

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Priscilla Sims Brown serves as President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, a full-service bank, lender and investment manager with a century-long commitment to advancing positive social change. Amalgamated Financial Corp., the holding company for the Bank, is the first publicly traded (NASDAQ: AMAL) financial institution to be a public benefit corporation. Priscilla guides Amalgamated Bank in championing social responsibility through values-based banking, customer-centric services, and mission focused lending, serving individuals and organizations, including climate groups, foundations, labor unions, advocacy groups, political campaigns, and other socially responsible businesses, who care that their deposits are put to work for good. Priscilla is also dedicated to addressing environmental and social justice issues at Amalgamated Bank. More than 60% of the Bank’s lending and select balance sheet investments are high-impact through affordable housing, nonprofits, and climate solutions. Named one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking in 2023 by American Banker, Priscilla has been featured in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, PBS, and CNBC Changemakers, among others.

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Myra Biblowit is the President Emeritus of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the nation’s highest-rated breast cancer research organization with a mission focused exclusively on funding the world’s most promising research. Myra took the helm as BCRF President in 2001 and, after 22 years, retired in April 2023. During Myra’s tenure, BCRF funding enabled breakthroughs in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship. Myra was widely recognized for leading one of the most impactful, financially efficient, and transparent nonprofits in the United States. Prior, Myra was Vice Dean for External Affairs at NYU Medical Center where she headed the Development, Alumni Relations and Public Relations departments. Previously she led the capital campaign as Senior Vice President of the American Museum of Natural History. Earlier, Myra served as Executive Vice President of the Central Park Conservancy. Myra is a member of the Board of Directors of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the Housewares Charity Foundation and the Historic House Trust of New York City. She is a member of the New York Women’s Forum, the Yellow for Pink National Council, Extraordinary Women on Boards and serves on the Advisory Board of Project Hope for Ovarian Cancer Research & Education.

Truett Tate is Chairman of a number of Boards, including Reference Point, TLC Lions, Thinkably and the recently retired Chairman of QBE, NA. Truett Tate is also Director of the DEVClever board. Truett has a long and esteemed global executive history including most recently as CEO of ANZ USA, Europe, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. Immediately prior, he was Group Executive (and Board member) at Lloyds Banking Group, responsible for Wholesale & International Banking (Including Global Wealth and International Retail) across the United Kingdom, the Americas and worldwide and prior spending 27 years at Citigroup where he held a variety of senior roles including corporate banking business across each of its regional geographies. Truett’s long board history includes Virgin Group, Ten Group, the BITC, BAB Inc along with many other charitable and academic organizations. A speaker, guest lecturer, philanthropist and professional coach/mentor, Truett has seemingly bottomless energy and passionate interest in a safer, more just, more humane and more sustainable world.

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

“Listening to our clients’ needs, learning their business and understanding their culture is how we present the best talent and provide  a competitive advantage. We place candidates with the character, competencies, commitment, (intellectual) curiosity and courage to make a difference. Our goal is always to go beyond the expected and deliver valuable advice, measurable results and great talent!”

– Janice Reals Ellig

  • Champion of gender parity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Industry expert, speaker, and author
  • Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative
  • Committed board and committee member and philanthropist

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