Does a Higher Degree Help a Medtech Career?

Find out which job titles have the most postgraduate degrees and whether more schooling means a higher salary in the medtech industry.

Marie Thibault

October 10, 2016

3 Min Read
Does a Higher Degree Help a Medtech Career?

Find out which job titles have the most postgraduate degrees and whether more schooling means a higher salary in the medtech industry.

If you've been considering going back to school for an advanced degree, you may be wondering whether it will make a difference to your career. There are myriad reasons for continuing your education, like a deep interest in a particular field of research, broader knowledge and experience, and the chance to gain more connections in your area of expertise. Yet there are also costs to that schooling, including tuition, opportunity cost of potential lost income, and time away from on-the-job learning and experience. So will the additional education pay off in terms of a salary bump and career satisfaction?

Within the medtech industry, more education does mean more money, at least according to the results of MD+DI's 2016 Medtech Salary Survey

More than 250 employees who answered the survey reported having postgraduate degrees. The median salary for this group was $127,630, significantly higher than the $107,875 median salary among those professionals who graduated college but did not go on to an advanced degree. It seems that even working toward a postgraduate degree is correlated with higher pay--of the dozens of professionals who reported some postgraduate study as their highest education, the median salary was $120,000.

Those medtech professionals who did not have a college degree but did have some college courses under their belt reported a median salary of $100,000. The few employees who had degrees from vocational or technical school had a median salary of $107,000.

Postgraduate degrees are most common among professionals working in research and development. In our survey, half of the R&D employees had a postgraduate degree, while another 7% reported completing some postgraduate study. Other departments with high proportions of advanced degrees include regulatory/legal affairs and general/corporate management--47% of survey respondents in each of these job categories had postgraduate degrees. 

This was followed by quality assurance/quality control, where 42% of employees surveyed reported having advanced degrees, and product design engineering, where a full 40% have postgraduate degrees. Sales and marketing (33%) and production/manufacturing (27%) were the areas of medtech where the fewest employees had attained postgraduate degrees.

But although those employees may have another framed diploma on their wall, the good news for those without that extra schooling is that a higher education doesn't mean higher job satisfaction. On average, the professionals with advanced degree had a job satisfaction score of 3.9 out of 5.0, while college graduates reported an average 3.8 score. 

It seems that despite the difference in degrees, medtech professionals say they are frustrated by the same factors: leadership, unrealistic project schedules, too much stress because of heavy workloads, pay, and lack of growth opportunities. In addition, some employees with postgraduate degrees feel they are not getting the chance to meet their potential--and their high degrees may have something to do with that perception. As one person in the survey put it, "Over educated, over qualified. No upward mobility." Another explained that with a more advanced degree than his or her manager, he or she is "not using my scientific training / expertise."

More schooling doesn't seem to help with employees' perception of job security, either. Those with postgraduate degrees had very similar feelings about whether theirs jobs were more secure, less secure, or about the same as 12 months ago.

The lesson to take from these observations? While higher education may bring higher salaries, it doesn't change the day-to-day frustrations or concerns many professionals have over the course of their careers. It seems more schooling isn't a guarantee of a better career. 

That's why this survey respondent's come-what-may attitude toward his or her future sounds like a smart one: "Plan on acquiring a PhD and then running from there." 


About the Author(s)

Marie Thibault

Marie Thibault is the managing editor for Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry and Qmed. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @MedTechMarie.

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