How to become a Biomedical Engineer

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The nation’s population is expanding and aging and people are beginning to live longer lives. This has increased the demand for cost-effective medical care and devices, as well as more advanced medical devices to accommodate the changing dynamic of the population. Biomedical engineers are key to our ability to keep up with these changing needs.

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What does a biomedical engineer do?

Biomedical engineers combine their knowledge of biology, medicine, science, engineering and technology to design, develop and test medical devices and procedures to address the needs of the medical field and the patient population. Biomedical engineers perform an important role in researching and developing imaging systems, artificial organs, medical procedures, prostheses and health care delivery and management systems.

What kind of training does a biomedical engineer need?

Most entry-level engineering careers require only a bachelor degree; however, entry-level biomedical engineering careers often require a graduate degree for consideration. There are some biomedical engineer entry level jobs that will accept a bachelor degree, but in order to increase your marketability and further your career, a graduate degree will be necessary.

To be successful in the field of biomedical engineering, most students will need a good foundation in mechanical or electronics engineering, as well as coursework emphasizing biomedical engineering principles and practice. Many biomedical engineers choose to specialize in one particular area within biomedical engineering, such as medical imaging, orthopedic engineering, biomechanics or biomaterials.

Biomedical engineers providing services to the public must obtain a license to practice in the state in which they intend to work. Licensing requirements include completing a degree program from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-approved school, completing two licensing examinations and gaining four years of work experience in engineering. The two licensing examinations, the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

What are the prospects for a career as a biomedical engineer?

Data shows that there were approximately 14,000 biomedical engineers working in the United States in 2006. By 2016, biomedical engineer job openings are expected to increase by 21%, which is considerably faster than the projected average growth rate across industries. This expected increase will be due, in part, to the demand for more advanced, cost-effective medical devices to accommodate our growing and aging population. (1)

How much do biomedical engineers make?

Entry-level biomedical engineer salary varies depending on a number of factors, such as size of employer, specialization within the field, level of education and experience, and geographical region. As an example, the base entry-level salary range for biomedical engineers working under the title Biomedical Engineer I is $35,449 to $58,516, with most biomedical engineers making between $42,036 and $54,110. (2)

Prospective biomedical engineers must be creative thinkers with a solid foundation in medicine, biology and technology. Students who want to make a difference in the lives of others and improve the nation’s health will find biomedical engineer careers a positive employment choice.

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