How to Become a Biomedical Engineer: Career Path Guide
If you want to become a biomedical engineer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a biomedical engineer:
Those who become biomedical engineers typically have a keen interest in science, medicine and engineering. Becoming a biomedical engineer requires the ability to visualize complex processes, as well as excellent hand-eye coordination in order to work with specialized instrumentation.
A career as a biomedical engineer requires one to have excellent communication skills and an excellent attitude towards working with others. Biomedical engineers must also be extremely patient and persistent individuals, as the desired results of their work may not present themselves in a timely manner.
Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a biomedical engineer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed to Become a Biomedical Engineer
To become a biomedical engineer, you typically need to begin by completing a bachelor's degree in engineering with a major in biomedical engineering, or a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, electrical engineering or mechanical engineering with a specialty in biomedical engineering.
Completing a degree in one of these fields provides prospective biomedical engineers with a working understanding of life sciences and medical terminology; knowledge that is required for entry-level positions such as those found in industry (for example, medical device or pharmaceutical companies) or clinical engineering positions found in hospitals and other health care facilities.
Many biomedical engineering program graduates continue their education by taking medicine or dentistry, or graduate degree programs in other fields. If you want to become a biomedical engineer that works in consulting, research or teaching, you will need a graduate degree.
Biomedical Engineer Job Description
Biomedical engineers are responsible for designing, developing and evaluating biological health systems and products, such as artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation medical information systems and health care delivery systems. In order to effectively execute all functions of their jobs, biomedical engineers must apply knowledge of engineering, biology and biomechanical principles.
Biomedical Engineer Job Duties
• Confer with life scientists, chemists and medical scientists regarding the engineering aspects of the biological systems of animals and humans
• Design and develop equipment and technology to assist people with physical disabilities
• Maintain documentation relating to the service histories of biomedical equipment
• Use signal processing techniques to diagnose and interpret bioelectric data
• Evaluate certain aspects of biomedical equipment, such as safety and efficiency
• Advise and assist in the application of instrumentation in clinical environments
• Design and develop medical diagnostic and clinical instrumentation, equipment, and procedures
Who Hires Biomedical Engineers?
Biomedical engineers are hired by organizations that study biological and medical systems and products, as well as organizations that use knowledge of such systems to develop and evaluate biological and medical systems and products that include artificial organs, prostheses, medical instruments and information systems. Such organizations include:
• Medical institutions
• Universities and colleges
• Private research laboratories
• Corporate research and development laboratories
• Public research laboratories
• Pharmaceutical companies
• Medical equipment Manufacturers
• Engineering consulting firms
• Law firms
• Venture capital firms
• Government agencies
Biomedical Engineer Job Opportunities
Biomedical Engineer Jobs - Canada
Biomedical Engineer Jobs - United States
Biomedical Engineer Salary
The salary level of biomedical engineers can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, the specific responsibilities of their job, where they work and many others.
Biomedical Engineer Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Other Professional Engineers occupational group earn an average wage of between $35.74 and $51.92 per hour.
Biomedical Engineer Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of workers in the Other Professional Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $66,694 per year.
Biomedical Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics the median salary of Biomedical Engineers is $81,540 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries for Biomedical Engineers are below $49,690, and the top 10% are above $126,990 per year.
Working Conditions for Biomedical Engineers
Work Setting: Biomedical engineers may work in a variety of settings, including offices, laboratories, workshops, manufacturing plants, clinics and hospitals. Travel may be involved during working hours for biomedical engineers, depending on the tasks of the day, such as whether or not they need to work on equipment located outside of their laboratory or office, or if they need to meet other professionals or clients for work purposes.
Working Hours: Most biomedical engineers work standard weekday hours. Longer hours may be required to meet research deadlines, work with patients at the patients’ convenience, or work on medical equipment that is in use during daytime hours. For example, a biomedical engineer who has developed a new device designed to help a person with a disability to walk again might have to spend extra hours in a hospital to determine whether the device works as planned.
Skills Needed to Become a Biomedical Engineer
In order to become effective in a career as a biomedical engineer, you need to posses certain skills, as these skills will allow you to conduct your job with a high level of competence. These skills include:
• Manual dexterity; able to perform tasks that require precision
• The ability to think analytically and solve problems
• An aptitude for science and mathematics
• The ability to visualize complex processes and equipment
• Excellent oral and written communication skills
• Able to be persistence when desired results aren’t reached right away
• The ability to work effectively with people from various disciplines and educational backgrounds
Personality Characteristics Needed to Become a Biomedical Engineer
Possessing some of the following personality traits can be very helpful if you want to become effective in a career as a biomedical engineer:
• A strong interest in engineering and medicine
• A willingness to improve their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis
• A willingness to consult with others regarding work
• A willingness to supervise the work of others
• Should enjoy synthesizing information to conduct research and develop new instruments, equipment and systems
• Willing to work long hours in order to accomplish work tasks
Careers Similar to Biomedical Engineer
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Biomedical Engineer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: How to Become a Biomedical Engineer
Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a biomedical engineer.
Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca
Service Canada website: www.servicecanada.gc.ca
The Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society website: www.cmbes.ca
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov
Scholarships for Becoming a Biomedical Engineer
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a Biomedical Engineer: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a biomedical engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!