Medical-device makers are hitting their stride, and that is translating into job opportunities for technical workers. Michael Holder, chief executive...

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DALLAS — Medical-device makers are hitting their stride, and that is translating into job opportunities for technical workers.

Michael Holder, chief executive of Organ Transport System, has seen his company grow from a one-man operation to a team of six in the past few years.

Now he’s making room for even more.

“Our hiring plans will be over the next 12 months to add maybe 10 people,” he said. “A couple of those people will need to have engineering backgrounds in order to work with and help move forward our design and manufacturing processes.”

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Organ Transport does exactly what the name suggests — it makes transport devices for human organs that are bound for transplant.

The company is one of three housed in the North Texas Enterprise Center for Medical Technology, a business incubator started by the city of Frisco, Texas, for medical device and health-care-related information-technology startups.

The other tenants are UltraSensitive Detection Technologies, which makes sensors to detect chemical and biological agents, and OxySure Systems, which has created a portable oxygen generator for use in medical emergencies.

Larry Calton, executive director of the center, said all three firms are hiring or getting ready to hire technical professionals.

He said medical-device firms are growing because they make products that are vital to a growing segment of the population.

“Demographics is probably at the very top level of this, driving it,” he said. “You’ve got an aging population. When you’re sick, you want to get well. So there’s a built-in demand. It’s somewhat less cyclical than other industries.”

Within the young industry, many medical-device companies are not yet profitable.

But venture-capital investors are picking up the slack and pouring money into the field.

These firms — which invest money in young companies in hopes that the investments will increase in value when the companies are sold or go public — invested $1.72 billion in medical device and equipment makers in 2004.

That was up from $1.61 billion in 2003, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

And the pace of new investment seems to be accelerating. In first quarter 2005, medical device and equipment venture funding hit $444.5 million, compared with $343.8 million in first quarter 2004.

As medical-device firms absorb that cash infusion, they’ll hire new workers to turn those investments into products, Calton said.

Holder said he will need electrical engineers and bioengineers in particular, but medical-device experience is not required.

The medical-device field is clearly attractive to many engineers.

A survey published in December’s Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry trade journal found that the median salary for product-design engineers in the industry is $89,000.

Nearly three-quarters of the product-design engineers employed in the medical-device field say they’re not even thinking about looking for a different job.

That’s not to say their careers will be uneventful. More than 40 percent of those polled said their firms had been involved in mergers or acquisitions in the past year.