Medical Instrument Technician Career
A medical instrument technician is one who installs, repairs, and maintains medical equipment. These skilled professionals can work for hospitals, manufacturing companies, doctor's offices, or assisted living facilities, to name a few options. Education required for this position depends on the type of equipment you work on. Travel might be part of this job, and working with or around patients could be necessary.
|Degree Level||Postsecondary certificate, 2-year or 4-year degree depending on job level|
|Degree Field||Surgical technology, operating room technology or other major related to specific job function|
|Experience||6 months of experience minimum for entry-level roles|
|Key Skills||Technical and mechanical aptitude, problem solving ability, good communication and time management skills, dexterity, and physical stamina, fully versed in the type of equipment you work on|
|Salary (2015)||$34,890 per year (median salary for medical instrument technicians)|
Sources: U.S. Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, FederalPay.org
The following steps outline how you can work toward becoming a medical instrument technician.
The first step is to get trained. For those who work on equipment more mechanical in nature, like wheelchairs and hospital beds, a year of on-the-job training could be all that's necessary to work in the field. However, it's more common for medical instrument technicians to get training at the associate degree level, since this allows for a broader range of equipment types. A bachelor's degree could be required for more complicated scanners and machinery. You can find associate and bachelor's degree programs in biomedical technology, biomedical engineering technology, biomedical electronics technology, or a similar field of study to get the training necessary for the job.
Though certification isn't required for this field, it can make a big difference when it comes to landing a job. It can show potential employers that you fully understand the mechanics and functions of specific types of biomedical equipment. Specialty certifications through the Association of Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) are biomedical equipment, radiology equipment, and laboratory equipment. Other certifications might be required, depending on the type of work and equipment involved with the job.
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The next step is to gain professional experience. You can start with an internship in the field and that may even be part of a degree program. Having that experience can help you qualify for many more jobs than trying to get a job without experience.
Upon entry into the field, medical instrument technicians must understand how to install, repair, or test the various pieces of equipment they'll be working on. After gaining more knowledge and experience, technicians must be able to make detailed technical adjustments to the machinery on their own and could be required to travel to local, remote, or even international sites.
Become a Specialist
You could specialize in a particular type of medical equipment, aligning with AAMI certifications. Options include healthcare equipment, medical lab equipment, and radiology equipment. Some employers might also look for even more specific specializations, such as experience with surgical equipment, imaging equipment, or devices made by a particular manufacturer. You may be able to find certificate programs at community colleges and universities that offer specialized training in medical equipment technology.
Get Additional Education
Earning a bachelor's or master's degree in biomedical engineering can open up career opportunities to include research, design, and technical sales. In addition to advancing toward advancing medical equipment to improve functionality and efficiency, you can specialize at this level as well in such areas as prosthetics, cardiovascular equipment, imaging modalities, or communication. Degree programs are heavy in math and science, as is typical of an engineering program, but also include life sciences and computer engineering.
To recap, aspiring medical instrument technicians have a variety of education and employment options available. Requirements range from one year of training to a master's degree, depending on the particular career path.