Is Medical/Dental Instruments a Good Career Path?
Have you ever looked at your dentist’s set of tools while waiting for your appointment and wondered where they get these instruments? How about when getting an x-ray or CT scan? These instruments are products of the manufacturing industry, specifically the medical and dental instruments sector.
Medical institutions and dental offices rely on their tools to provide safe and efficient services to patients. These must, therefore, be made with precision and adherence to strict safety standards. Some of these medical tools include surgical instruments, imaging machines, endoscopic tools, and orthopedic instruments, while dental tools include dental x-ray equipment, orthodontic materials, and the regular hand tools we regularly encounter at the dentist’s chair. These medical and dental instruments are developed, produced, and distributed by various professionals within the field, and their importance makes it a good career path for those interested.
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What are the Best Medical/Dental Instruments Jobs?
The medical/dental instrument business requires many professionals to ensure quality of the products. From design to production to quality control, to packaging, delivery, and sales services, there are many opportunities one can find within this field. Moreover, the continuous evolution of these instruments due to technology ensures more jobs in the future. Here are some of the best jobs in the medical/dental instruments field:
Biomedical engineers or bioengineers combine science and technology to create equipment, software, or other useful products. In the field of medical/dental instruments, they are behind new tools, machines, and software that allows healthcare professionals to provide better services to those in need. They work in research facilities to test and perfect these instruments before distributing them to customers.
Biomedical engineers need to complete a degree in bioengineering or biomedical engineering or in a related engineering field. Some roles or employers require higher degrees or levels of education. There are no specific licenses for this engineering, but one can take the Professional Engineer (PE) board exam, which other employers, especially in government, may require. Other requirements vary but competency in software or basic bioengineering tools is also tested by companies.
Medical and dental sales representatives on the other hand are in charge of selling a manufacturing company’s products to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other institutions. Much like pharmaceutical sales representatives, they go from one place to another and set up appointments to present their products and their benefits to hospital administrators or the doctors themselves. They can also sell to specific and accredited retailers.
Medical and dental sales representatives usually need a minimum of bachelor’s degree, preferably in communications, business, or biology. Those who have finished medical or dental courses opt to enter this field of work. Advanced education or certifications, such as the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) from the Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation can help prove to potential employers about one’s skills and dedication.
Dental Laboratory Technician
A dental laboratory technician’s main role is to construct and repair full or partial dentures or dental appliances. They make sure that dentures are of the right fit, material, and quality, as well as ensure the safety of the dental machinery. This is a different position from Dental Assistants, as they focus more on the tools in the office.
Along with ophthalmic technicians, dental technicians typically need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, after which they typically receive on-the-job training to attain competency. However, one can become a Certified Dental Technician (CDT) through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology, which provides dental technicians with the advantage of higher salaries, advancement, and job satisfaction. Becoming a CDT requires passing three examinations, taken in any order, within a four-year period: a written Comprehensive Exam, a written Specialty Exam, and a hands-on Practical Exam in the same specialty.
Medical Equipment Repair Technician
Medical equipment, especially those that are used every day, must be constantly maintained and repaired by professional technicians. These people are in charge of the upkeep and repair of patient care equipment. Some hospitals have an in-house or employed technician, while others have technicians on-call when the machines malfunction. Many manufacturers also have their own technicians that they send out to clients as part of the warranty or the after-sales services.
A minimum of an associate’s degree from a technical college is usually required to become a repair technician. This will be followed by on-the-job training to focus on specific machines or tools that one needs to learn how to repair. There are also various biomedical equipment training or certifications one can take, such as this course from the Delft University of Technology.
Quality Assurance Specialist
To avoid these dreaded calls or complaints from customers altogether, manufacturers do their best to make sure all products are of the best quality and adhere to all safety standards as set by the state through quality assurance specialists or quality control inspectors. These specialists examine products and materials for defects or deviations from specifications, and make sure that defective products do not go out into the market and production issues are addressed.
Most quality assurance (QA) specialists do not require a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the employer, a high school diploma or associate’s degree will suffice, followed by on-the-job training. The requirements may differ based on the state and the company. Certifications from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) can help in furthering one’s career as a QA professional.
These are just five of the best professions in the medical/dental instruments manufacturing field. There are many other possible career paths to choose from, such as in marketing, production, and much more.
Why Choose Medical/Dental Instruments as a Career?
The medical and dental instruments manufacturing sector needs many professionals to ensure the quality and safety of their products, the right sales representatives, and more. It is a foundational aspect of modern healthcare and industry.
As a career, the field is open to individuals with various undergraduate degrees, such as Biology, Business, Engineering, Advertising, Medicine, and so on.
What are the Opportunities in Medical/Dental Instruments?
The global market for medical devices was valued at $577.26B, while dental surgical instruments were valued at $5.60B in 2022. These two markets are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate or CAGR of 5.5% and 5.9% respectively, from 2022 to 2030. This means that there is an expected continued and rising demand for these instruments in the years to come, making it a possibly lucrative and stable career path.
Furthermore, the growing population and increasing number of conditions, both medical and dental, are some of the major factors that drive the demand for these instruments. Hospitals and dental offices seek to provide their patients with the best form of medical or dental care that these instruments or devices can provide.
How Much Do You Get Paid?
Salary expectations in medical/dental instruments manufacturing vary. It is generally affected by the location of operations, the kinds of products, and the size of the company or employer.
Bioengineers earn an average annual salary of $97,410 as of May 2021. The average base pay is at $60,680 while those in higher positions or with more experience can earn up to or more than $154,750 a year. The top industries for bioengineers to work for are navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing; research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences; medical equipment and supplies manufacturing; and healthcare and social assistance.
Sales representatives in general earn an average annual salary of $61,600 as of May 2021, earning as low as $30,620 or as high as $125,750. This is largely affected by their commissioning schemes with their employers, as well as the type of instruments or machines they sell.
For dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians, the average annual pay is $39,090 as of May 2021. Base pay starts at $29,230, and can go as high as $62,730 a year. Medical equipment technicians in the US on the other hand can expect an average of $49,910 annual salary, with a range of $31,280 to $81,850. Finally, quality control specialists earn an average of $38,850 annually, with a range of $28,820 to $62,970.
What is the Future of Medical/Dental Instruments?
The future of this industry largely depends on innovations in medical and dental care. As the goal has always been to provide safer and more efficient healthcare for patients, both bioengineers and medical scientists are working towards developing cures and instruments that can help more people.
It is safe to say that the continued evolution of healthcare and dental care will shape the future of this sector of manufacturing. As long as medical and dental hospitals and clinics exist, so will this crucial industry. Manufacturing companies must always keep up with these changes so they will not be left behind.
Instrumental Careers in Healthcare Innovation
Medical and dental instruments serve as crucial partners to healthcare professionals. They help save and prolong lives, provide comfort for those in pain, and deliver the kind of care that people fifty or one hundred years ago would never think possible. It is an important field in manufacturing, and so are the professionals that work in it.
There are many professionals that make sure the best tool is developed, created, and safely delivered to the hands of medical and dental professionals. Careers in this field are therefore not just stable, but also fulfilling as it plays their part in helping people.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.