Biomedical engineering is a sub-specialty of engineering that concentrates on solving biological and medical problems. Biomedical engineers work for engineering companies, hospitals, medical supply companies, and medical technology firms. Common duties of biomedical engineers include designing and evaluating devices and procedures, performing research, and evaluating treatment techniques. Many biomedical engineers specialize in related areas like medical imaging and biomaterials.
Become a Biomedical Engineer
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; master's degree common|
|Degree Field(s)||electrical or mechanical engineering with biomedical training|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure required in all states|
|Experience||Required for licensure|
|Key Skills||Analytical and detail-oriented; strong math, science, and technology skills|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||23% growth|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$86,220|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A bachelor's degree is a basic requirement for entering the field of biomedical engineering; many biomedical engineers have a background in an engineering specialty, like electrical or mechanical engineering, in addition to biomedical training. Common coursework in a 4-year engineering program that will prepare you for a career as a biomedical engineer includes biomedical instrumentation, biomechanics, physics for medicine, therapeutic medical devices, and biochemical engineering. Many employers expect biomedical engineers to have a master's degree.
Biomedical engineers also are required to be licensed in all 50 states; licensing generally requires completing an accredited bachelor's program, working for a set number of years, and passing a series of examinations.
To be successful as a biomedical engineer, you must both be analytical and detail-oriented, and strong in biology and chemistry. Strong math, science, and technology skills are also critical to a successful career in biomedical engineering.
Employment and Economic Outlook
The employment outlook for biomedical engineers is excellent; data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that employment in this field is expected to increase by 23% from 2014-2024, but competition will be stiff for applicants with just a bachelor's degree. Median annual earnings for biomedical engineers were $86,220 in 2015.
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Alternate Career Options
There are some other related careers you might consider pursuing. These include mechanical engineer and physician.
Mechanical engineers use theoretical and practical applications of engineering principles to find mechanical and thermal solutions to problems. Employment requires a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a closely related field; a degree from an ABET-accredited program can improve job prospects and is also usually required as part of state licensing requirements. Mechanical engineers who work for the public are required to hold a license, which requires a combination of education, work experience, and testing. Mechanical engineers can also earn professional certification.
The BLS expects employment for mechanical engineers to increase 5% from 2014-2024. Median pay varied by industry in 2012, according to the BLS; the median pay for mechanical engineers was $83,590.
Physicians see patients who are experiencing illness or injury; they examine patients, make diagnoses, and prescribe treatments that can vary from medicine to surgery. Physicians also provide preventative health care to patients, advising them on steps they can take to avoid illness or injury.
A physician has a bachelor's degree, a 4-year medical degree (Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), and 3-8 years of residency training. State licensing is also required; among the requirements is a licensing exam. Board certification in a specialty requires additional residency training and an exam.
The BLS expects that jobs for physicians will increase 14% from 2014-2024. The BLS reported the mean annual wages for physicians was $197,700 in 2015. The BLS also reports the mean pay for physicians varied by area of practice. Family and general practitioners earned a mean annual wage of $192,120 and internists earned a mean annual wage of $196,520.
Biomedical engineers focus on solving biological and medical problems and need to have at least a bachelor's degree and hold a state license.