Certificate and associate's degree programs in biomedical equipment technology have similarities as far as courses they offer, including electronics and biomedical subjects. Students study biomedical electronics theory, safe operation procedures, and the underlying physiological principles of commonly used medical devices in certificate programs.
In associate's degree programs, students become familiar with the standard tools of the trade, including electronic devices, millimeters, computers, and specialized software used to adjust, troubleshoot, and repair medical equipment.
With a focus on advanced medical equipment and instrumentation, bachelor's degree programs in biomedical engineering technology provide students with more expansive knowledge of medical equipment operations. Students gain an understanding of the design, repair, and maintenance procedures to ensure advanced medical equipment and devices are functioning properly.
Biomedical Equipment Technology Certificate
Medical equipment technicians are more commonly referred to as medical equipment repairers in the healthcare industry. A certificate program in biomedical equipment technology is designed to teach these prospective workers how to install, troubleshoot, service, repair, and maintain sophisticated medical equipment and instruments. Coursework provides a general overview of concepts and principles behind the use and operation of equipment used to diagnose and treat various health conditions. Emphasis is placed on proper medical equipment inspection techniques and safety standards. Applicants must have a high school diploma or academic equivalent.
The certificate-level curriculum provides coursework in the foundations of electronics, networking, troubleshooting, repair techniques, and anatomy. Topics covered include:
- Biomedical instrumentation
- Medical terminology
- Electronic circuits
- Biomedical measurements
- Hospital safety standards
Associate of Applied Science in Biomedical Equipment Technology
Biomedical equipment technology associate degree programs provide students with the technical skills and medical knowledge needed to maintain and repair complex medical equipment, such as ultrasound machines, defibrillators, heart rate monitors, and X-ray machines. The curriculum also includes courses helping to build strong communication skills and prepare students to work effectively with healthcare professionals. Offered at technical schools, community colleges or vocational institutions, this degree program requires a high school diploma or GED for admission.
Training at the associate's degree level includes two years of coursework including both general education courses and field-specific instruction. Required coursework related to medical equipment repair includes the following topics:
- Electronic systems
- Biomedical ethics
- Digital circuits
- Medical terminology
- Medical communication systems
- Solid state devices
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Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering Technology
Students enrolled in a biomedical engineering technology bachelor's degree program study traditional engineering concepts and biological processes. Courses focus on training students to provide medical equipment support within a clinical environment, while working closely with medical professionals and other technicians. Admission requirements for this program include a minimum of a high school diploma or GED and submission of acceptable ACT or SAT test scores.
A bachelor's degree curriculum requires students to complete a number of general education credits, elective courses, and a core group of field-specific classes. Coursework incorporates the electrical, technical, and computer aspects of medical equipment operations. Topics covered include:
- Circuit analysis and bioengineering
- Medical imaging equipment and electric controls
- Networking systems
- Patient safety
- Biomedical instrumentation
- Human biology
Popular Career Options
In addition to entry-level career opportunities within the field, graduates of a bachelor's-level degree program in biomedical engineering technology can use their engineering and biological knowledge to assume managerial or supervisory roles within the industry. Job opportunities for medical equipment technicians with this level of training may include the following specialties:
- Medical imaging processing
- Biomedical computing
- Biomedical equipment repair
- Biomechanics engineering
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Medical equipment repairers who have completed a certificate or associate's degree program are prepared for entry-level careers within the high-tech environment of today's healthcare and medical industries. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $46,340 in May 2015, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projected employment of medical equipment repairers to grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Continuous training is an important part of being a successful medical equipment technician. Medical equipment within the healthcare field is constantly evolving and advancing as new technology and devices are introduced to the industry. Technicians can participate in continuing education opportunities offered by traditional educational institutions, medical device manufacturers or professional organizations, such as the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. Some technicians may decide to pursue a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering technology in order to improve or advance their career opportunities.
The International Certification Commission of Clinical Engineering and Biomedical Technology offers voluntary certification credentials for medical equipment repairers. Credentials include the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET), Certified Radiology Equipment Specialist (CRES) and Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES). Each certification requires a separate exam and, once earned, certification is good for three years and requires at least 15 points of continuing practice activities in order to renew. Although certification is currently optional, the BLS reports that many employers will pay for their technicians to become certified.
There are several undergraduate study options for aspiring medical equipment technicians. Certificate programs provide a basic introduction to the field of biomedical technology, while associate's degree programs add in general education courses, and bachelor's degree programs allow for more advanced studies.