Biomedical engineers develop devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems by combining their knowledge of biology and medicine with engineering principles and practices. Many do research, along with medical scientists, to develop and evaluate systems and products such as artificial organs, prostheses (artificial devices that replace missing body parts), instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems. Biomedical engineers also may design devices used in various medical procedures, imaging systems such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions. Most engineers in this specialty need a sound background in another engineering specialty, such as mechanical or electronics engineering, in addition to specialized biomedical training. Some specialties within biomedical engineering are biomaterials, biomechanics, medical imaging, rehabilitation engineering, and orthopedic engineering.
Biomedical engineers work in office buildings, laboratories, or industrial plants. They work a standard 40-hour week. At times, deadlines or design standards may bring extra pressure to a job, requiring engineers to work longer hours.
Salary ranges from $47,000 - $122,000, with the median salary $77,000.
Helpful Skills and Subjects to Study
Being creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented are important skills for engineers. They should also be able to work as part of a team and do well in verbal and oral communication. Subjects to study in high school are calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, English, social studies and humanities.
In addition to other types of engineers, scientists and technicians in a variety of fields are related. Also, mathematicians, drafters, physicists, astronomers, and sales engineers.
Education & Training
Entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree. Engineering programs typically include mathematics and the physical and life sciences, computer and laboratory classes. Many colleges offer 2- or 4-year programs in engineering technology.
Biomedical engineers are expected to have employment growth of 72 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The aging of the population and a growing focus on health issues will drive demand for better medical devices and equipment designed by biomedical engineers. Along with the demand for more sophisticated medical equipment and procedures, an increased concern for cost-effectiveness will boost demand for biomedical engineers, particularly in pharmaceutical manufacturing and related industries. Because of the growing interest in this field, the number of degrees granted in biomedical engineering has increased greatly. Many biomedical engineers, particularly those employed in research laboratories, need a graduate degree.
Sources for Additional Information
Biomedical Engineering Society
8401 Corporate Dr., Suite 140
Landover, MD 20785