Biomedical Engineers apply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products, such as artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation, medical information systems, and heath management and care delivery systems.
Common Work Tasks
- Develop devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems by combining their knowledge of biology and medicine with engineering principles and practices
- Conduct research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, to develop and evaluate systems and products such as artificial organs, prostheses (artificial devices that replace missing body parts), instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems
- Design devices used in various medical procedures, imaging systems such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions
- Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
- Install, adjust, maintain, and/or repair biomedical equipment
- Advise hospital administrators on the planning, acquisition, and use of medical equipment
- Advise and assist in the application of instrumentation in clinical environments
- Test biomedical machinery and equipment to ensure adequate performance
- Research new materials to be used for products, such as implanted artificial organs
- Develop models or computer simulations of human bio-behavioral systems to obtain data for measuring or controlling life processes
Other Job Titles
Biomedical Engineers are also known by other titles, including:
- Mechanical Engineers
- Rehabilitation Engineers
- Orthopedic Engineers
- Electrical Engineers
Education, Training, and Experience
Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates with a degree in a natural science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand.
Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering. A design course, sometimes accompanied by a computer or laboratory class or both, is part of the curriculum of most programs. General courses not directly related to engineering, such as those in the social sciences or humanities, are also often required.
Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty positions and many research and development programs, but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many experienced engineers obtain graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education. Many high-level executives in government and industry began their careers as engineers.
Certification and Licensure
All 50 States and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Engineers who are licensed are called professional engineers (PE). This licensure generally requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, 4 years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a State examination. Recent graduates can start the licensing process by taking the examination in two stages. The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination can be taken upon graduation. Engineers who pass this examination commonly are called engineers in training (EIT) or engineer interns (EI). After acquiring suitable work experience, EITs can take the second examination, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Several States have imposed mandatory continuing education requirements for re-licensure. Most States recognize licensure from other States, provided that the manner in which the initial license was obtained meets or exceeds their own licensure requirements. Many civil, electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineers are licensed PEs. Independent of licensure, various certification programs are offered by professional organizations to demonstrate competency in specific fields of engineering.
Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are becoming increasingly important as engineers frequently interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.
The median annual salary for a biomedical engineer is $75,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $120,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $46,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of biomedical engineers are:
- Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing - $81,950
- Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing- $76,790
- Scientific Research and Development Services - $92,870
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals- $59,450
- Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing - $87,550
- 2006-2016 Employment growth: 21%
- Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 3,000
- Employment 2006 : 14,000
- Employment 2016: 17,000