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Working as a Biomedical Engineer

What Does a Biomedical Engineer Do

Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.

Duties

Biomedical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design equipment and devices, such as artificial internal organs, replacements for body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
  • Install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
  • Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
  • Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of equipment
  • Work with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists to research the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals
  • Prepare procedures, write technical reports, publish research papers, and make recommendations based on their research findings
  • Present research findings to scientists, nonscientist executives, clinicians, hospital management, engineers, other colleagues, and the public

Biomedical engineers design instruments, devices, and software used in healthcare; bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures; or conduct research needed to solve clinical problems.

They often serve a coordinating function, using their background in both engineering and medicine. For example, they may create products for which an indepth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. They frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.

Biomedical engineers design electrical circuits, software to run medical equipment, or computer simulations to test new drug therapies. In addition, they design and build artificial body parts, such as hip and knee joints. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.

The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on mathematics and statistics to build models to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart.

The following are examples of specialty areas within the field of biomedical engineering:

Bioinstrumentation uses electronics, computer science, and measurement principles to develop devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Biomaterials is the study of naturally occurring or laboratory-designed materials that are used in medical devices or as implantation materials.

Biomechanics involves the study of mechanics, such as thermodynamics, to solve biological or medical problems.

Clinical engineering applies medical technology to optimize healthcare delivery.

Rehabilitation engineering is the study of engineering and computer science to develop devices that assist individuals with physical and cognitive impairments.

Systems physiology uses engineering tools to understand how systems within living organisms, from bacteria to humans, function and respond to changes in their environment.

Some people with training in biomedical engineering become professors. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

How To Become a Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering from an accredited program in order to enter the occupation. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either choose biological science electives or get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.

Education

Prospective biomedical engineering or bioengineering students should take high school science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They should also take math courses, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting or mechanical drawing and in computer programming are also useful.

Bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical engineering and bioengineering focus on engineering and biological sciences. Programs include laboratory-based courses, in addition to classroom-based courses, in subjects such as fluid and solid mechanics, computer programming, circuit design, and biomaterials. Other required courses may include biological sciences, such as physiology.

Accredited programs also include substantial training in engineering design. Many programs include co-ops or internships, often with hospitals and medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, to provide students with practical applications as part of their study. Biomedical engineering and bioengineering programs are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Biomedical engineers must be able to analyze the needs of patients and customers to design appropriate solutions.

Communication skills. Because biomedical engineers sometimes work with patients and frequently work on teams, they must be able to express themselves clearly. They must seek others’ ideas and incorporate those ideas into the problem-solving process.

Creativity. Biomedical engineers must be creative to come up with innovative and integrative advances in healthcare equipment and devices.

Math skills. Biomedical engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics, as well as statistics, for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Biomedical engineers typically deal with and solve problems in complex biological systems.

Advancement

Biomedical engineers typically receive greater responsibility through experience and more education. To lead a research team, a biomedical engineer generally needs a graduate degree. Some biomedical engineers attend medical or dental school to specialize in applications at the forefront of patient care, such as using electric impulses in new ways to get muscles moving again. Some earn law degrees and work as patent attorneys. Others pursue a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and move into managerial positions. For more information, see the profiles on lawyers and architectural and engineering managers.

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Average Salary$81,486
Job Growth Rate4%

Biomedical Engineer Jobs

Biomedical Engineer Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical Engineers in America make an average salary of $81,486 per year or $39 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $107,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $61,000 per year.
Average Salary
$81,486

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range87k - 129k$106k$106,266
Salary Range80k - 109k$94k$94,008
Salary Range74k - 108k$90k$89,962
Salary Range69k - 107k$86k$86,353
Salary Range70k - 101k$85k$84,904
Salary Range70k - 100k$84k$84,174
$45k
$129k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineer
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineer
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
06/28/2020
06/28/2020
$78,68106/28/2020
$78,681
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineer
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineer
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
06/28/2020
06/28/2020
$78,68106/28/2020
$78,681
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineer
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineer
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
06/28/2020
06/28/2020
$78,68106/28/2020
$78,681
Biomedical Python Engineer
Biomedical Python Engineer
Management Decisions, Inc.
Management Decisions, Inc.
05/22/2020
05/22/2020
$130,00005/22/2020
$130,000
SR Biomedical Engineer
SR Biomedical Engineer
Aerotek
Aerotek
03/07/2020
03/07/2020
$80,00003/07/2020
$80,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Biomedical Engineer Demographics

Gender

male

67.9%

female

25.1%

unknown

7.0%

Ethnicity

White

65.6%

Asian

19.6%

Hispanic or Latino

8.6%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

36.8%

French

13.8%

Arabic

8.0%
See More Demographics

Biomedical Engineer Education

Degrees

Bachelors

50.7%

Masters

29.9%

Associate

7.5%

Top Colleges for Biomedical Engineers

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA

Tuition and fees
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550

2. Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Tuition and fees
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

3. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

Tuition and fees
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

4. University of California - San Diego

La Jolla, CA

Tuition and fees
$14,167
Enrollment
30,279

5. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA

Tuition and fees
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

6. Northeastern University

Boston, MA

Tuition and fees
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

7. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Tuition and fees
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

8. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA

Tuition and fees
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

9. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Tuition and fees
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

10. Yale University

New Haven, CT

Tuition and fees
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Biomedical Engineer

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Internship
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Top Skills For a Biomedical Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 9.2% of biomedical engineers listed medical device on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and math skills are important as well.

Best States For a Biomedical Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a biomedical engineer. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Nevada. Biomedical engineers make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $99,867. Whereas in North Carolina and Minnesota, they would average $97,265 and $93,980, respectively. While biomedical engineers would only make an average of $92,971 in Nevada, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Wyoming

Total Biomedical Engineer Jobs:
20
Highest 10% Earn:
$130,000
Location Quotient:
1.14
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Alaska

Total Biomedical Engineer Jobs:
20
Highest 10% Earn:
$131,000
Location Quotient:
1.08
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Hampshire

Total Biomedical Engineer Jobs:
113
Highest 10% Earn:
$124,000
Location Quotient:
1.79
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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How Do Biomedical Engineer Rate Their Jobs?

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5.0

Rewarding profession.June 2019

5.0

Zippia Official LogoRewarding profession.June 2019

What do you like the most about working as Biomedical Engineer?

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Low salary compared to other engineering fields. Show More

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Top Biomedical Engineer Employers

1. Medtronic
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$75,507
Biomedical Engineers Hired: 
95+
2. General Electric
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$85,521
Biomedical Engineers Hired: 
23+
3. Stryker
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$77,724
Biomedical Engineers Hired: 
21+
4. Food and Drug Administration
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$69,577
Biomedical Engineers Hired: 
16+
5. Boston Scientific
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$63,465
Biomedical Engineers Hired: 
14+
6. Vanderbilt University
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$49,415
Biomedical Engineers Hired: 
12+

Biomedical Engineer Videos

Recently Added Biomedical Engineer Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020