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Biomedical Engineer

ActivitiesApply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products, such as artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems.

OutlookFaster-than-average-job growth

Median Income$81,540 per year in 2010

Work Context & ConditionsBiomedical engineers are employed in education, industry, hospitals, research facilities of educational and medical institutions, and government agencies. They often serve a coordinating or interfacing function, using their background in both the engineering and medical fields.

Minimum Education RequirementsBachelor's Degree

SkillsMonitoring, Critical Thinking, Equipment Selection, Mathematics, Active Learning, Judgment and Decision Making, Operation Monitoring, Operations Analysis, Coordination, Reading Comprehension, Speaking, Technology Design, Science, Quality Control Analysis, Complex Problem Solving

AbilitiesOral Expression, Number Facility, Visualization, Deductive Reasoning, Problem Sensitivity, Written Comprehension, Near Vision, Speech Clarity, Mathematical Reasoning, Information Ordering, Inductive Reasoning, Written Expression, Oral Comprehension, Fluency of Ideas, Category Flexibility, Originality

InterviewsChris StanleyVideo Icon
Abby Vogel

Job Description
Job CategoryArchitecture & Engineering

Job Description Many biomedical engineers do research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, on the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals. Biomedical engineers also design devices used in various medical procedures, such as the computers used to analyze blood or the laser systems used in corrective eye surgery. They develop artificial organs, imaging systems such as ultrasound, and devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions.

Most engineers in this specialty require a sound background in one of the more basic engineering specialties, such as mechanical or electronics engineering, in addition to specialized biomedical training. Some specialties within biomedical engineering include biomaterials, biomechanics, medical imaging, rehabilitation, and orthopedic engineering.

Working ConditionsBiomedical engineers are employed in education, industry, hospitals, research facilities of educational and medical institutions, and government regulatory agencies. They often serve a coordinating or interfacing function, using their background in both the engineering and medical fields.

In industry, they may create designs where an in-depth understanding of living systems and of technology is essential. They may be involved in performance testing of new or proposed products. Government positions often involve product testing and safety, as well as establishing safety standards for devices. In the hospital, biomedical engineers may provide advice on the selection and use of medical equipment and supervise its performance testing and maintenance.

They may also build customized devices for special health-care or research needs. In research institutions, biomedical engineers supervise laboratories and equipment and participate in or direct research activities in collaboration with other researchers with such backgrounds as medicine, physiology, and nursing. Some biomedical engineers are technical advisors for marketing departments of companies, and some are in management positions. They generally work indoors in environmentally controlled conditions, must be very exact and highly accurate in performing their jobs, are often required to wear protective or safety equipment, and require the use of their hands to handle and control objects, tools, or controls.

Salary RangeThe median annual wage of biomedical engineers was $81,540 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,690, and the top 10 percent earned more than $126,990.

Education RequiredBiomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited program to enter the occupation. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering or get on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.

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

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

Accredited programs also include substantial training in engineering design. Many programs include co-ops or internships, often with hospitals, to provide students with practical applications as part of their study. Biomedical engineering programs are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

Recommended High School CoursesBiology, Mathematics, English, Chemistry, Physics

Postsecondary Instructional ProgramsAdministration and Management, Public Safety and Security, Education and Training, Mathematics, Design, Physics, Production and Processing, Engineering and Technology, Chemistry, Mechanical

Certification and LicensingNone

Skills, Abilities, & Interests
Interest Area
InvestigativeInvolves working with ideas and requires an extensive amount of thinking.

Work Values
Social StatusLooked up to by others in their company and their community.
AchievementGet a feeling of accomplishment.
CreativityTry out your own ideas.
SecurityHave steady employment.
Ability UtilizationMake use of individual abilities.
Working ConditionsGood working conditions.
ActivityBusy all the time.
AutonomyPlan work with little supervision.
ResponsibilityMake decisions on your own.

MonitoringAssess how well someone is doing when learning or doing something.
Critical ThinkingUse logic and analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches.
Equipment SelectionDetermine the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
MathematicsUse math to solve problems.
Active LearningWork with new material or information to grasp its implications.
Judgment and Decision MakingBe able to weigh the relative costs and benefits of a potential action.
Operation MonitoringWatch gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operations AnalysisAnalyze needs and product requirements to create a design.
CoordinationAdjust actions in relation to others' actions.
Reading ComprehensionUnderstand written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
SpeakingTalk to others to effectively convey information.
Technology DesignGenerate or adapt equipment and technology to serve user needs.
ScienceUse scientific methods to solve problems.
Quality Control AnalysisConduct tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Complex Problem SolvingSolving novel, ill-defined problems in complex, real-world settings.

Oral ExpressionAble to convey information and ideas through speech in ways that others will understand.
Number FacilityAble to add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly and correctly.
VisualizationAble to imagine how something will look after it's moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Deductive ReasoningAble to apply general rules to specific problems to come up with logical answers, including deciding whether an answer makes sense.
Problem SensitivityAble to tell when something is wrong or likely to go wrong. This doesn't involve solving the problem, just recognizing that there is a problem.
Written ComprehensionAble to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Near VisionAble to see details of objects at a close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Speech ClarityAble to speak clearly so listeners understand.
Mathematical ReasoningAble to understand and organize mathematical problems and to know which mathematical methods or formulas to use to solve them.
Information OrderingAble to correctly follow rules for arranging things or actions in a certain order, including numbers, words, pictures, procedures, and logical operations.
Inductive ReasoningAble to combine separate pieces of information, or specific answers to problems, to form general rules or conclusions. This includes coming up with a logical explanation for why seemingly unrelated events occur together.
Written ExpressionAble to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Oral ComprehensionAble to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Fluency of IdeasCome up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
Category FlexibilityGenerate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
OriginalityCome up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

More Information
Related JobsEngineer, Chemical

Job OutlookEmployment of biomedical engineers is projected to grow by 62 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 9,700 new jobs over the 10-year period.

The aging baby-boom generation is expected to increase demand for biomedical devices and procedures, such as hip and knee replacements, because this generation seeks to maintain its healthy and active lifestyle. Additionally, as the public has become aware of medical advances, increasing numbers of people are seeking biomedical advances for themselves from their physicians.
Biomedical engineers will likely experience more demand for their services because of the breadth of activities they engage in, made possible by the diverse nature of their training.

Biomedical engineers work with medical scientists, other medical researchers, and manufacturers to address a wide range of injuries and physical disabilities. Their ability to work in different activities with other professionals is enlarging the range of applications for biomedical engineering products and services, particularly in healthcare.

More InformationBiomedical Engineering Society

ReferencesBureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Biomedical Engineers,
on the Internet at

Biomedical Engineering Society, 8401 Corporate Dr., Suite 110, Landover, MD 20785-2224, on the Internet at

O*NET on the internet at