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Medical technology


Medical technology is a sub-sector of the life sciences sector, which in the UK is one of the strongest and most productive in the world, turning over in excess of £56 billion per year.

Life sciences encompasses areas such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, environmental and medical technology.

More generally, we define 'life sciences' as all sciences that have to do with organisms such as plants, animals and human beings.

Other life science sub-sectors you may wish to explore further are:

Cogent, the UK's strategic body for skills in the science industries, has worked with employers to develop the Career Navigator to help you explore the huge range of roles available.

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Your next steps

Visit Prospects for details of the wider science and pharmaceuticals sector

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PhD and masters students

Look out for these boxes – information specifically for you!

Explore the sector

MedTech Europe explains the value of medical technology, defining it as 'any technology used to save lives in individuals suffering from a wide range of conditions'.

The UK's world-leading medical technology, or medtech, industry has expanded rapidly over the last five years and continues to do so. As well as medical devices, the sector represents a broad range of technologies, including medical and assistive technologies, imaging platforms, telehealth and diagnostics.

With a growing emphasis on the involvement of digital technologies and a consumer demand for wearable medical devices, it is an exciting time to become involved in this innovative industry.

Some of the most exciting developments of 2015 are listed in a blog post on

US-based physician, Dr Bertain Mesko predicts the top 10 medical technologies of 2016 on his Medical Futurist website, including technologies such as fibretronics and 3D bioprinting.


For a list of the large global companies involved in medical technology, Medical Product Outsourcing magazine provides a global top 30 of medical device companies.

Several of them run their own graduate training programmes, for example Johnson & Johnson's Engineering and Scientist Graduate Programme.

Medtech is closely linked with the biotechnology sector, and so many of the companies involved are small or medium enterprises (SMEs) employing relatively few people. For a list of medtech companies, access the UK Biotech database and filter for 'Medical technology'.


The majority of small companies recruit primarily into R&D roles, collaborating with larger organisations to access their infrastructure when taking their products to market, e.g. marketing, regulatory affairs, etc. However, as investment increases and companies grow, there are likely to be more support roles available, such as administrative and procurement.

R&D roles will almost always require a postgraduate qualification, usually a PhD, following by some post-doctoral research experience.


Finding a job


Employers will look for experience that has given you relevant technical and personal skills, ideally gained through industrial placements or internships.

In an industry that is so dependent on obtaining funding to suppoprt its research, commercial or industrial awareness is a key attribute that is often lacking in applicants. Visit our webpage to find out more about commercial awareness.

Industrial placement and internships are very beneficial, but if you don't yet have that directly relevant experience, keeping up to date with industry developments through news items on key websites, or perhaps folowing a particular organisation's social media feeds can all help to build your commercial awareness.

Working in retail or fundraising for charities, etc, can also be useful in helping you to understand how important the financial aspects of a business are.

Large pharmaceutical companies often advise those who are aiming for R&D roles to contact them towards the end of their undergraduate degree and maintain links throughout their further studies so they can stay informed about what employers are looking for.


For R&D roles, it is highly likely that you will need a PhD and relevant experience, but the more operations-focused roles, e.g. regulatory affairs, medical information, etc, often recruit at BSc level.

Degree subjects required will depend on the role, but engineering and physical sciences will be valuable, as will degrees within the life sciences spectrum.


Skill requirements will vary with each role, but broadly speaking, employers on the scientific side of the industry will be looking for:

  • an interest in science and technology and an ability to update and test your knowledge against experience
  • good communication skills to be able to liaise effectively within multidisciplinary teams
  • experience of using modern technology and complex equipment
  • meticulous attention to detail to produce highly accurate work even when under pressure

Recruitment processes

Some of the larger, global organisations run formal graduate recruitment programmes, but those with a smaller UK presence tend to advertise vacancies as they arise.

As so many of the employers are small companies, their recruitment processes are often less formal. Networking can play an important role in your job search.

Joining relevant online networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook could be an excellent way to identify potential employers, participate in discussions, make useful contacts and find out about upcoming events. Visit our pages on how to network effectively for more information.

If you can identify a small number of companies working in fieldds that particularly interest you, make contact to find out more about them and consider sending in a speculative application.

Commercial research organisations often use recruitment agencies.

Vacancy sources

My Career 
Our source of vacancies from local, national and international companies and organisations

Recruitment websites dedicated to medtech vacancies are difficult to find, as many of the roles will be in small companies that are often responsive to speculative applications. However, there are a number of broader sites focusing on the pharmaceuticals and/or biotech that might prove useful.


Science Recruitment Group


CK Science

Cranleigh Scientific

For academic or industrial roles, including PhDs, use and search for 'medical device' or 'medical technology'.

Certain roles in R&D will require postgraduate qualifications. Search the Prospects postgraduate courses database to find a lift of the various masters courses and PhDs currently available.



Finding work experience

Internship programmes are offered by many of the larger employers, but a speculative approach will be more effective with smaller companies.

Networking is key as this will allow you to find out more about the industry and make contacts that could help you to secure work experience.

There are a number of places where you might start your search for internships and placements, including:


Your next steps 

  • Identify a relevant online forum, perhaps on LinkedIn, look for a topic that interests you and join in with the discussion. This could be a useful starting point for your networking
  • Join any relevant University societies and look for opportunities to get more involved with relevant research within your department
  • Look at relevant journals and identify where the cutting-edge research that interests you is currently taking place. Find out more about how they recruit and what their requirements are. Perhaps you could arrange some vacation work experience or to work shadow one of their researchers for a few days
  • Look for internship and placement programmes that you could apply to – any industrial experience will be valuable whatever you eventually decide to specialise in
  • Research different roles and try to decide whether you want to pursue a scientific research career, or whether one of the other roles, e.g. medical communications, would suit you better. Make an appointment with a careers adviser to help you make that decision
  • Investigate masters courses and PhD opportunities early so you can be clear about how they will enhance your future applications. Talk to course providers about course content and to potential future employers to gauge their opinions and preferences
  • Build your network of contacts and ask them for advice about your future choices.



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