This career is expected to grow 72 percent—faster than average—through 2018. The aging of the population and the focus on health issues will drive demand for better medical devices and equipment designed by biomedical engineers.
In 2008, biomedical engineers earned an average salary of $77,400. The lowest 10 percent earned $47,640. The highest 10 percent earned $121,970.
What is a Biomedical Engineer?
Biomedical engineers develop devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems. They combine their knowledge of biology and medicine with engineering principles and practices.
Many do research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, to develop and evaluate systems and products such as artificial organs, artificial limbs, instrumentation, and health management and care delivery systems.
Biomedical engineers may also 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.
Some specialties within biomedical engineering include biomaterials, biomechanics, medical imaging, rehabilitation engineering and orthopedic engineering.
Education & Degree Path
Because of the growing interest in this field, the number of degrees granted in biomedical engineering has increased greatly. Biomedical engineers, particularly those with only a bachelor’s degree, may face competition for jobs.
Unlike many other engineering specialties, a graduate degree is recommended or required for many entry-level jobs. Also, 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.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Engineers who are licensed are called professional engineers (PE). This licensure generally requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a state examination.
Entering the Field:
Entry to this field often requires at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering and often a graduate degree in medical or bio-engineering. You can begin by earning an associate degree in applied science and technology or electronics to lay a foundation to qualify for entry-level work as a biomedical technician.
In general, engineers trained in one branch may work in related branches, but it is somewhat trickier to make a career leap into biomedical engineering because of the highly specialized nature of the work. Those with backgrounds in science or medical technology may enjoy this career field.
If you have experience in any medical career area—such as physical therapy or nursing—you might consider earning a bachelor's or master's in healthcare or technology management to qualify for a career as a manager or team leader within a biomedical firm.
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Source for salary and growth data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information on careers in biomedical engineering, salaries, and job prospects visit: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Engineers