Medical Engineer: Job Description & Career Info

Apr 10, 2019

Find out what medical engineers do. Learn about the training and skills requirements, in addition to the salary expectation and employment outlook, to see if this profession is the right one for you. Also, explore some other career options that are similar in some ways to medical engineering.

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Career Definition of a Medical Engineer

Medical engineers apply engineering principles to research and development of medical applications, treatments or diagnostic technologies related to acute or chronic medical conditions. Medical engineers are employed by research organizations, manufacturers, government agencies or major medical centers.

A medical engineer's responsibilities can include research, development, testing and evaluation of medical devices, advisement on new biomedical purchases for hospitals and medical centers. Medical engineers may specialize in medical devices, sports medicine, stem cell research, biomarkers, genomics, nanotechnology and more.

Medical engineering projects can include artificial organs and prosthetic limbs, computer-assisted procedures and treatments, informatics and medical imaging. According to the Biomedical Engineering Society, female engineering students enroll in biomedical engineering programs more than any other engineering specialty.

Education Bachelor's degree in engineering, physics or related program for entry-level; master's or Ph.D. in medical engineering for most jobs
Job Skills Attention to detail, creative problem solver, analytical, works well with others, leader
Median Annual Salary (2018) $88,550 for biomedical engineers
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 7% job growth for biomedical engineers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Medical engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in engineering or physics, chemistry or biology for any kind of entry-level job. Most medical engineering jobs require a master's degree or Ph.D. in medical engineering. Master's degree programs can take up to two years and Ph.D. study can take up to seven years beyond the 4-year bachelor's degree program. Medical engineers often study technology, medical devices and diagnostics, computer modeling, analysis, physiology, biology, chemistry and physics. Medical engineers also usually complete a course of clinical study as well.

Skills Required

Medical engineers are most successful when they're detail-oriented and can demonstrate creative and analytical thinking. Medical engineers should exhibit teamwork and leadership skills as well because much of their work can be collaborative in nature.

Career and Economic Outlook

Medical engineers play an important role in the development of new medical solutions, and their career opportunities are expected to be positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 7% increase in biomedical engineering jobs from 2016 to 2026, and these engineers had a median salary of $88,550 in 2018.

Alternate Career Options

If you are interested in engineering, but you do not necessarily want to limit yourself to medical technology, you may want to consider becoming a mechanical engineer. If you are more interested in physics and chemistry, you might want to look into biochemist and biophysicist careers.

Mechanical Engineer

These engineers usually have a bachelor's degree and pursue licensing to sell their services to the public. Those who wish to conduct research normally complete a graduate degree. Average employment growth of 9% was predicted by the BLS from 2016-2026. Mechanical engineers earned a median annual wage of $87,370 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Biochemist and Biophysicist

These professionals study the physical and chemical aspects of living things and their processes. Some entry-level positions may be secured with a bachelor's or master's degree in biochemistry or a similar field, but those wishing to work in research and development situations are required to have a Ph.D. The BLS reported an annual median salary of $93,280 for biochemists and biophysicists in 2018 and projected faster than average job growth of 11% from 2016-2026.

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