A table with an array of medical devices and computer devices to depict the medtech sector.
Image: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock

Want to work in medtech? Here’s what you need to know

6 Jun 2018

Medtech has become a thriving sector within the world of life sciences. But what do you need to know if you want to work in medtech?

As technology advances within the world of healthcare, it will come as no surprise that the medical technology sector is growing at a rapid rate across the globe.

Combine the growth of medtech devices with the power of the biopharma industry and you’ve got two extremely strong industries for those who are looking for a career within life sciences.

Focusing on Ireland in particular, this country has quickly become a global medtech hub that can punch well above its weight with major players such as Cook Medical and Edward Life Sciences setting up shop.

According to the Irish Medtech Association, the medtech sector employs more than 38,000 people in Ireland and is the second-largest employer of medtech professionals in Europe.

This is great news for top talent looking for work within the sector. But what exactly does a jobseeker need to know about working in the medtech industry? How does it differ from other sectors within life sciences?

Know what you need to study

The first thing you will want to know is if there is a direct degree for medical technology and the answer is yes. A number of major institutes and universities across Ireland offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in medical technology and devices.

Limerick Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, University College Cork, Griffith College, Institute of Technology Carlow, University College Dublin and Institute of Technology Sligo all offer different degrees relating to the medtech industry.

Of course, due to the varied nature of work within the sector, a specific degree in medical technology is not strictly necessary. Engineers are extremely sought-after within the medtech sector, so a base education in engineering is one of the most important elements.

There are Irish Medtech Skillnet courses available throughout the year as well as Springboard degrees in partnership with the Irish Medtech Association.

Beyond that, there are more specific degrees, courses and training you can avail of in order to top up your knowledge and work your way into the sector.

Industry experience can often be more valuable than adding on a huge number of degrees so focus on exactly what skills and qualifications are broadly necessary and work from there.

5 tips to land that job

Once you’re confident that medtech is the right industry for you and you have a good idea of where you want to go within that sector – and a strong education to back it up – you’re ready to find your first job.

As already said, industry experience can often be the most valuable part of your CV once you have the minimum necessary qualifications, but getting that dream job without a baseline of experience can be tough.

So, I’ve rounded up five quick-fire tips to help you on the road to your medtech career, both for your first job and as your career progresses.

1. Be flexible to gain early experience

While there is a huge amount of opportunities within medical technology, the talent pool is expanding fast too, so it’s important to be flexible in the early stages of your career.

For example, Limerick and Galway are two heavyweight locations when it comes to the medtech industry, so those who live in Dublin might simply face moving to a region with more job opportunities. Getting on the industry ladder is vital to begin your career in medical technology.

2. Weigh up your options

At every stage of your career and life, it will be important to weigh up which options suit you best within medtech. Some companies or particular roles will demand more of your time, while others might carry a bigger risk.

For example, medtech isn’t just a growing industry due to the major global players. Medical devices are also bringing a huge amount of profitable start-ups to the sector. And, as with any industry, working for a start-up can expose you to a lot more opportunities, responsibilities and skills, but won’t necessarily be as stable as a big firm.

3. Know what skills are in demand

Before you rush to look up as many master’s degrees as possible that specialise in medical devices or medical technology, first look at the jobs that are out there. Find out what are the minimum qualifications and any additional or desirable qualifications that come up time and time again.

This will give you a better idea of where your knowledge gaps are and you can work from there. It’s all well and good to hear terms such as medical technology and guess what is necessary but, in reality, it’s best to go straight to the source.

4. Look at online course options

As previously mentioned, a rake of degrees aren’t necessarily the best way forward without sufficient industry experience to complement your education.

It’s good to work on both because the nature of the industry means you will never really stop learning, whether that’s on the job or in the lecture hall.

While not everyone can afford to do a master’s degree, there are plenty of online course options for those who wish to upskill within the medtech industry as well as the Skillnet and Springboard courses mentioned earlier.

However, when choosing an online course, make sure it comes from an accredited institution or is affiliated to one so that the certificate you receive adds actual value to your CV.

5. Networking is key

Finally, while you can research as much advice as your brain can handle on how to carve out the perfect medtech career path, the best information will come from those who’ve walked ahead of you.

Networking within medtech circles is a great way to introduce yourself to those already in the industry and get some first-hand advice from them.

While you can do this online if you feel more comfortable, attending meetups where you can meet people in person will go a long way. This would also make it easier to find a mentor of sorts who you can go to with questions about the industry.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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