How to Become a Biomedical Engineer
This career path puts you at the forefront of exciting developments in practical science.
Scientific research often happens behind the scenes and does not always yield real-world applications. But biomedical engineers are true pragmatists, taking breakthroughs in science, medicine, and technology to design cutting-edge devices and software to serve (and even upgrade) the human body. So, if you find yourself daydreaming about solutions that can improve health care, you may want to figure out how to become a biomedical engineer.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biomedical engineering jobs are predicted to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 5% over the next decade, and the average biomedical engineer salary is on the higher end too.
Biomedical engineering careers will put you at the vanguard of exciting developments in practical science—from the next generation of wearable devices and the latest in gene-editing techniques to nano-sized robots that flow into the bloodstream to kill cancer cells. Feeling the thrust? Then read on to jump-start your biomedical engineering career.
What Is Biomedical Engineering, Exactly?
Biomedical engineering merges engineering principles with medical research to create an assortment of both physical equipment and digital innovations that can be used anywhere from hospitals and laboratories to rehabilitation centers and clinical trial settings.
Furthermore—as the lines between technology and biology continue to blur—biomedical engineers will be essential in building a transhumanist future: the potential for technology to fuse with a vast swath of the population and increase physical prowess, cognitive aptitude, and overall life expectancy.
What Do Biomedical Engineers Do?
Biomedical engineers are hands-on problem-solvers whose work ingeniously connects the fields of engineering and medicine. They create an array of products and services that provide medical solutions for diagnosis, monitoring, health management, therapy, and body enhancement. This encompasses a variety of technologies, from state-of-the-art medical information trackers to artificial organs and prostheses.
As you learn how to become a biomedical engineer, you’ll soon realize that specialization is also key. You may encounter biomedical engineering jobs with such titles as: clinical engineers (who work with medical equipment), genetic engineers (who deal with the genetic makeup of organisms), biochemical engineers (who focus on cell structures), and biomaterials engineers (who experiment with using both natural and lab-made substances in medical devices and implants), among others.
Specific duties can include:
- Collaborating with research scientists to demonstrate how engineering principles apply to certain biological processes.
- Preparing technical manuals and research reports.
- Designing equipment, software, and devices, such as diagnosis machines, health-care delivery systems, and replacements for body parts.
- Training clinicians and providing technical support for biomedical equipment.
Monster features many resources on how to become a biomedical engineer, including a biomedical engineering technician job description that you can review.
Where Do Biomedical Engineers Work?
A variety of companies and organizations hire biomedical engineers. Here are some examples of places where you may work:
- Hospitals and laboratories.
- Clinical research centers.
- Pharmaceutical companies.
- Medical device manufacturers.
- Federal and state governments.
- Software companies.
How to Become a Biomedical Engineer
If you get easily enthused about health care and can mix creative tendencies with analytical abilities, then obtaining a biomedical engineering degree can lead you to a fascinating career. Starting in high school, you should ensure that you’re comfortable with (and ideally excel at) classes in the sciences (biology, physics, chemistry, and math), but you can always go the extra mile and take additional courses in mechanical drawing and computer programming, if possible.
Get a Biomedical Engineering Degree
Once you’re ready to start applying to colleges, you should search for biomedical engineering programs accredited by the ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Most biomedical engineering companies will require you to have a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited institution.
You can opt for a traditional engineering degree, but you may then want to also take courses in biological science, medical optics, biomechanics, and/or bioinstrumentation. Still, many colleges and universities currently offer straight-up biomedical engineering majors, so you can jump right in.
It should take four years to complete your biomedical engineering degree at the undergraduate level. Biomedical engineering courses will cover topics in both classroom and laboratory environments, such as:
- Physiology and biomaterials.
- Organic chemistry.
- Statistics and calculus.
- Fluid and solid mechanics.
- Circuit design.
If you want to take it up a notch—and potentially snag better-paying opportunities—you can pursue a master’s in biomedical engineering, which typically takes one or two years and provides access to top-tier research positions or supervisory roles.
Go all the way and get a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering if you’re aiming to work for universities, the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration (FDA), or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Get a Biomedical Engineering Internship
Before applying to entry-level biomedical engineering jobs, you should consider an internship at a coveted bioengineering firm. Biomedical engineering internships allow you to garner valuable experience and on-the-job training so that you have a better idea of what kind of roles you may want to apply to.
Get a Biomedical Engineering License
Another option is to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Many private employers don’t need you to be licensed, but this will likely be required if you want to work as a biomedical engineer for the federal government or several states throughout the U.S. The FE license can also help you secure more competitive managerial positions or consultant roles.
Immerse Yourself in Biomedical Engineering Trends
Engage your passion. Join biomedical engineering societies and attend conferences and events. But most of all, do your due diligence to remain linked into the latest biomedical engineering trends, from robotic surgery to the fine-tuned injection of microbubbles—nimble, micron-sized particles with the potential to more precisely deliver pharmaceuticals to specific areas of the body.
How Much Do Biomedical Engineers Make?
Monster data indicates that the median biomedical engineer salary is around $80,000 per year. But that salary can go up to $104,050 if you find a position in the navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing industry, according to the BLS, with the top 10% earners reaching the $149,440 mark.
Also, you can look up the average salary for biomedical engineers in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Biomedical Engineering Jobs
Now that you’ve discovered how to become a biomedical engineer, the next step is to create an attention-grabbing resume so that you can land a job that will help set in motion a trailblazing career at the nexus of design and manufacturing in the health-care industry.
In addition to your degree(s), licensing, and any internship or work experience you may already have, make sure to highlight these skills on your biomedical engineer resume or cover letter:
- Analytical skills. Show how much you can process.
- Math skills. Go strong on your quantitative abilities.
- Problem-solving creativity. Emphasize how you can find solutions in creative and novel ways.
After your resume and cover letter are finalized, explore the biomedical engineering jobs available on Monster.
According to the BLS, the top five states for biomedical engineering jobs are:
The top areas are:
Bioengineer a Better Future for Humanity
Are your synapses circuiting at groundbreaking speeds? Now that you know how to become a biomedical engineer, you can upload your resume for free on Monster and soon find yourself at the forefront of engineering and medicine—a powerful intersection of sciences that can help so many people in both the short and long terms.