The medical/dental instruments industry constantly evolves, making it an exciting career choice for anyone passionate about improving, extending, and saving people’s lives. Besides its ever-changing and rewarding nature, this field is perfect for earning a sizable income and building a secure financial future.
However, is medical/dental instruments a good career path for you?
The answer is a resounding YES if you seek a fulfilling job that will continually challenge you. In fact, it’s perfect if you love helping others heal and live better with your expert technician skills. It’s also ideal if manufacturing, selling, or repairing medical or dental instruments excites you.
Moreover, this broad field has numerous opportunities. Let’s explore its advantages, skill and education requirements, and the highest-paying jobs to determine if medical/dental instruments is a good career path.
What is the medical/dental instruments field?
The medical/dental instruments field includes medical, scientific, dental, and surgical devices and equipment for diagnosing and treating various health conditions.
Some examples are MRI and CT scanners, pacemakers, dental implants, defibrillators, dental drills, periodontal probes, scalpels, X-ray machines, and pregnancy tests. According to the World Health Organization, there are two million medical instruments across 7,000 device groups.
In addition, this field involves many professions, from manufacturing, selling, and repairing instruments to using them for health screening, monitoring, treatment, and preventive and palliative care.
Job description for medical/dental instrument positions
Job descriptions for medical/dental instrument positions vary across professions.
For instance, medical device sales reps sell medical equipment, focusing on educating medical professionals on their products, including the features, applications, and benefits. They communicate with marketing and support teams, schedule appointments with various hospital or clinic administrators and staff, provide demos, and manage orders.
On the other hand, medical equipment preparers sterilize, disinfect, install, maintain, and inspect medical instruments to ensure they meet the highest industry standards and operate flawlessly. They also manage inventory and keep usage records to ensure sterile supplies haven’t passed their expiration dates.
Likewise, dental assistants prepare the necessary equipment, including disinfection, sterilization, and maintenance. However, they also provide patient care, including assisting dentists in dental procedures and advising patients on oral health.
Their other responsibilities include keeping patient records, replenishing dental supplies, and managing inventory.
Best-paying jobs in medical/dental instruments
The medical/dental instruments field lets you spread your wings and fly in numerous directions. Here are the ten best-paying jobs in the US (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Salary.com) to help you answer the burning question: “Is medical/dental instruments a good career path?”
Average annual salary: $420,169
Surgeons in the US earn at least $208,000 annually, depending on expertise, experience, and specialization. For instance, general surgeons earn an average of $223,321 annually, while neurosurgeons are at the highest end of the spectrum, with a median yearly salary of $746,544.
Average annual salary: $163,220
Diagnosing and treating dental problems for better oral hygiene is another high-paying job in the medical/dental instruments field.
Dentists can earn a salary as high as general surgeons, while they can secure an even higher income by specializing in a specific area. For instance, orthodontists make an annual average of $208,000.
Average annual salary: $124,300
Optometrists use medical instruments to diagnose and treat visual problems, including injuries, defects, and ocular diseases. Their median salary is well above all occupations’ average pay, making it an excellent career choice if you’re passionate about helping people improve eye health.
Average annual salary: $121,530
Physician assistants provide direct patient care under physician supervision, earning as much as optometrists. For example, they use various medical instruments to examine patients, diagnose health problems, and treat conditions and illnesses.
They also assist in minor procedures and work in many healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices.
Medical Device Engineer
Average annual salary: $81,669
Medical device engineers design and develop cutting-edge medical instruments, like MRI, CT, and PET scanners, defibrillators, pacemakers, and X-ray machines, using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software.
Besides monitoring the manufacturing process and testing and assembling devices, they modify, repair, and upgrade them when necessary.
Average annual salary: $82,790
Radiation therapists work in oncology teams and provide radiation therapy to patients with cancer or benign tumors. In fact, they plan and deliver therapeutic radiation doses to help slow cancerous cell growth or ease pain and related symptoms in palliative treatments.
They typically use linear accelerators to deliver photon beams but can use X-ray machines, brachytherapy units, and other devices.
Medical Device Sales Representative
Average annual salary: $79,704
Medical device sales representatives sell medical devices and equipment to hospitals, clinics, private practices, research labs, nursing homes, and other healthcare centers. Their income includes commissions and bonuses on top of the base salary, which they can double with excellent sales skills.
Average annual salary: $78,950
Audiologists diagnose and treat hearing problems, balance issues, and related disorders. They also help prevent hearing loss and provide rehabilitative care. Besides examining ears with otoscopes and measuring hearing ability with audiometers, they provide hearing aids.
Average annual salary: $77,810
Dental hygienists help patients maintain dental hygiene and oral health. Besides preventive care, they identify and treat oral diseases (e.g., gum disease), remove plaque and stains from teeth, and use fluorides and sealants to prevent cavities, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
Orthotists and Prosthetists
Average annual salary: $77,440
Orthotists and prosthetists have similar occupations and earn the same average annual salary. The former design medical supportive devices, like splints and braces, while the latter focus on prosthetic limbs and other body parts.
Many professionals work in both areas, while some specialize in one.
Advantages of this career path
A career in medical/dental instruments provides many benefits. Besides the joy and fulfillment of improving and saving lives when providing direct patient care, here are the advantages of all the jobs in this field.
High work demand
Medical/dental instrument positions are always in high demand. Some locations may have fewer vacancies, but you can quickly find a job in your field if you meet the necessary skills and education requirements.
Medical/dental instrument jobs offer some of the highest annual salaries. Whether you design medical or dental devices, sell them to physicians, or use them in direct patient care, you can secure a sizable income for more than a comfortable life.
A medical/dental instruments career provides excellent job stability. Technological advancements help provide constant innovations, and medicine and dentistry will always need experts for patient care. You can build a secure financial future and live comfortably in retirement, regardless of your job position.
All healthcare jobs are highly valued positions. Whether you’re a surgeon, dentist, orthotist, or have an entry-level job like a dental technician, you’ll enjoy the utmost respect for making meaningful, life-saving changes in people’s lives.
Companies in the industry
The top ten companies providing medical instruments include the following (with revenue numbers in billions of dollars):
- Medtronic – $30.12
- Johnson & Johnson – $22.95
- Abbott – $22.59
- Philips – $19.32
- GE Healthcare – $18.01
- Becton Dickinson & Company – $17.11
- Siemens Healthineers – $16.93
- Cardinal Health – $15.44
- Stryker – $14.35
- Baxter – $11.67
The ten leading companies providing dental instruments are the following (with revenue numbers in USD):
- Henry Schein – $12.6 billion
- Patterson Dental – $6.5 billion
- Integra LifeSciences – $1.56 billion
- Benco Dental – $791.2 million
- Darby Dental – $286.7 million
- Pearson Dental Supply – $65 million
- Paradise Dental Technologies – $15 million
- American Eagle Instruments, Inc. – $12.8 million
- Brasseler USA – $12 million
- Dentsply Sirona – $4 billion
Education requirements in the medical/dental instruments field vary among professions. Here are some entry-level jobs and higher positions to give you an idea:
- High school diploma or GED – personal care, home health aides, and medical device sales representative
- Postsecondary nondegree award – EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians), paramedics, phlebotomists, medical assistants, and dental assistants
- Associate’s degree – radiation therapists, nuclear medicine technologists, dental hygienists, diagnostic medical sonographers, and radiologic and MRI technologists
- Bachelor’s degree – clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, registered nurses, dental implant coordinators, and medical device engineers
- Master’s degree – physician assistants, nurse anesthetists, orthotists, and prosthetists
- Doctoral or professional degree – surgeons, dentists, physicians, optometrists, audiologists, and podiatrists
Many jobs require additional certification and licenses, while you must complete a residency program for specializations.
Skills necessary for this career
Each occupation on this career path requires different technical skills. For instance, dentists use various tools daily, like dental explorers, forceps, and periodontal probes. They also operate X-ray machines and need computer literacy to maintain digital patient records.
All professionals in the medical/dental instruments field use computer software, various devices, tools, and supplies and operate different equipment. Moreover, other skills necessary for this career include attention to detail, focus, hand-eye coordination, compassion, empathy, agility, a positive attitude, and a work ethic.
Time and stress management, leadership skills, and the ability to follow instructions are also essential. Since everyone interacts with people daily, they need excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
Is medical/dental instruments a good career path for you when you consider these skills? Do you have what it takes?
The best part is you can build and hone job-specific and soft skills to prepare for your desired career while getting the necessary education.
Medical/dental instruments statistics
Fortune Business Insights estimates that the global medical devices market will reach $178.92 billion by 2029, growing at a 5.5% CAGR.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects nearly two million new jobs in the field by 2031. Another 1.9 million vacancies should open annually due to replacing employees (e.g., when they retire, switch careers, or leave the workforce).
In fact, registered nurses, who occupy over 3,130,600 positions in the US, should have the most vacancies over the next decade – 195,400. Nurse practitioners follow closely behind, with 118,600 new jobs by 2031.
The highest-paying occupations with the most estimated job openings include physician assistants (28,400), dental hygienists (19,000), and physicians and surgeons (21,400).
Working in the medical/dental instruments field may be challenging and require a lot of dedication, but it’s among the most rewarding careers financially and emotionally. That especially rings true when helping patients directly and making a positive, life-changing difference. It’s truly a privilege.
Now that you know this field’s essentials and benefits and the highest-paying jobs, what do you think: is medical/dental instruments a good career path for you?
Let me know in the comments below!