Biomedical Engineer: Job Description, Duties, Salary, and Other Requirements
Biomedical engineers are responsible for many medical breakthroughs and advancements in the healthcare field. Prosthetics that move intricately, robots that perform laparoscopic surgery, and smartwatches that read your heart rate and movement are just some of the amazing inventions we attribute to the hard work and dedication of biomedical engineers.
This career isn’t just about inventing products that doctors and therapists can use to heal patients or designing products that make it easier for consumers to stay healthy. The biomedical engineering field is vast and involves the delicate fusion of medicine with engineering principles, which requires extensive education and training. Find out more about how to become a biomedical engineer and what the job entails so you can decide if it’s the right career path for you.
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What Does a Biomedical Engineer Do?
Biomedical engineers design and produce computer systems, software, equipment, and devices that are used in the healthcare field. They must use their knowledge of the medical industry and training in engineering principles to create innovations that solve problems in the medical industry. The equipment that biomedical engineers create focuses on making medical processes and procedures more efficient and accurate so patients have better experiences with medical providers.
The specific tasks biomedical engineers are assigned to complete can vary, depending on the field they work in. However, in most cases, these engineers may need to:
- Design artificial organs or prosthetics.
- Create or improve machines that assist with health diagnostics.
- Perform maintenance repairs and provide technical assistance on biomedical equipment and devices.
- Analyze the performance and safety of medical equipment.
- Train doctors, surgeons, physicians, or clinicians on how to use specific equipment or devices.
- Collaborate with scientists and medical teams to conduct experiments.
- Write reports and publish papers on research findings.
- Present research findings to the public, and to professionals in the science and medical industries.
Many biomedical engineers work in research and development or quality assurance. They’re tasked with developing new procedures or processes in the medical field that are more efficient than the ones currently in place.
Workers in these roles must also have strong computer skills, since many medical processes involve software and other computer-based systems. Biomedical engineers may need to figure out ways to make this software more comprehensive or create new systems to use in specific medical situations, such as surgeries or when checking vital signs.
Average Biomedical Engineer Salary
While a biomedical engineer isn’t the highest-paying engineering job, it’s in the top 10 engineering jobs with the best salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a biomedical engineer was $88,550 in May 2018. Since the industry compensates workers generously, you may find it easier to pay off student loan debt when you pursue a career in biomedical engineering.
The compensation you earn when you enter the field depends on your training, education, and years of experience. The highest-paid biomedical engineering positions are generally in the field of measuring and navigational tool manufacturing. Biomedical engineers in the research and development field also tend to earn higher salaries than others.
Biomedical Engineer Education, Licenses, Certifications, and Training
Biomedical engineers are usually required to have bachelor’s degrees in biomedical engineering, bioengineering, or a related engineering field. Whether you apply for student loans, use financial aid, or get a scholarship, it’s pertinent that you complete your four-year degree if you want to become a biomedical engineer.
When you major in biomedical engineering, your college courses will focus on biomaterials, circuit design, fluid and solid mechanics, and computer programming. You’ll also attend extensive math courses and learn about physiology and other biomedical sciences while in school.
If you have a specific medical field you know you want to work in, you may need to attend medical or dental school to learn more about this field. While your bachelor’s degree will get your foot in the door, if you want to lead a research team, you may need to earn a graduate degree in biomedical engineering. The more experience you gain in the field, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to move into a more independent role, such as a researcher position.
Biomedical Engineer Job Outlook
The job market for biomedical engineers is expected to grow at 4%, which is about average when compared to other occupations. Smartphone advancements and three-dimensional printing technologies may contribute to the growth of this industry. With these technological advancements, biomedical engineers have a wider array of tools and resources to help them create innovative medical equipment and devices.
Should I Become a Biomedical Engineer?
A job as a biomedical engineer isn’t for everyone and there are specific qualities and interests you must possess for this to be a fulfilling and successful career. In addition to the educational requirements and extensive experience you must have to be promoted within the industry, you must also possess certain skills to be a biomedical engineer, including:
- Creativity: Biomedical engineers may work on creating functional equipment from scratch using only their creativity and knowledge of engineering and medicine.
- Problem-solving skills: When equipment is outdated or doesn’t work properly, biomedical engineers must figure out how to solve these problems as efficiently as possible.
- Mathematical skills: To design and revamp medical equipment, biomedical engineers must take measurements, use math-driven research, and perform extensive analysis.
- Analytical skills: Before they can design solutions in the medical industry, biomedical engineers must be able to pinpoint the inefficiencies for patients and healthcare workers.
- Communication skills: Biomedical engineers rarely work alone and need to effectively communicate with medical providers, patients, and teammates.
Biomedical engineers make exciting advancements in the medical industry by conducting a thorough analysis of healthcare needs and using their knowledge of engineering principles. If you decide to enter the biomedical engineering field, be ready to contribute to the creation of innovative and efficient solutions in the healthcare field.
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This post was updated January 2, 2020. It was originally published January 2, 2020.