There's a lot more to health care than hands-on patient care, especially in Minnesota. Large and small medical device companies and related health care companies dot the metro landscape, and the entry points may surprise you.

Want to work for one of the bigger device companies? Get yourself an engineering degree, according to Sarah Gasparini, a talent acquisition consultant at St. Jude Medical in St. Paul.

Developing new products

"The largest amount of hiring that you see in medical device in general is for engineers and that's mainly because it's all about development of new products," Gasparini said. "The easiest way to get into medical device is to attend a reputable college or university with a good engineering program. Mechanical, electrical, chemical, biomedical are the most common."

Landing a summer internship with one of these companies between junior and senior years is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. Interns might run laboratory tests, read standard operating procedure documents, or track each time a change is made to a product under development in a design history file.

"They have to be able to understand and complete the work with a very high degree of accuracy professionalism, and that sort of magic combination of the ability to question when it's necessary and the ability to forge ahead when it's possible," Gasparini said. "Some students catch onto that right away and some don't."

Other ways in

Clinical research is also a good entry point, and a master of science degree and some clinical experience will make you a better candidate, according to Gasparini. Workers can enter clinical research on a clerical level and work their way up into actual clinical trials. "There are a lot of different avenues to get experienced in that arena so they get a better idea of what we do," Gasparini said.

If none of this is your purview, consider the possibilities of a career in health care information. Ingenix, a medical information company that is part of UnitedHealth Group, is interested in business analysts and people with biomedical engineering backgrounds, according to Robin Borg, a Human Capital partner in Ingenix' consulting business.

Graduates with bachelor's degrees in business, finance, informatics or accounting make good candidates as well as those trained to be actuaries, Borg said. "In that BS degree, all the math and science works well in the health care space, specifically for an Ingenix, which is data-driven," she said.