If you have a technical mind and want to innovate and create for a living, consider a career in biomedical engineering. By entering this dynamic field, you’ll be able to put your science and math skills to use by designing and maintaining biomedical devices and products.
Job prospects for biomedical engineers are promising compared to alternate engineering disciplines, and the demand continues to grow as our population ages.1 In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks the field of biomedical engineering as the top engineering field nationwide, and names it #21 out of all STEM-related careers and #50 out of the best 100 jobs in the country.2
Additionally, biomedical engineering is expected to grow faster than the national average, with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimating a 5% job growth rate between 2022 and 2032.3 Read on to find out exactly how to prepare for a career in biomedical engineering.
Core Skills and Competencies
Biomedical engineering combines diverse educational disciplines into a single field. As a result, biomedical engineers need multifaceted skills and competencies, including a strong understanding of biological systems. Further, proficiency in statistics and advanced math are crucial in analyzing data and completing design projects.3 Preparation for a career in this area can begin very early. The BLS makes these recommendations for students interested in becoming bioengineers or biomedical engineers:4
High School Studies
- Science classes, including:
- Math classes, including:
- If available:
- Mechanical drawing
- Computer programming
- Biomedical engineering
- Biological sciences
- Fluid and solid mechanics
- Circuit design
- Engineering design
- If available, co-ops or internships with:
- Medical device manufacturing companies
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing companies
The Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University notes that, in preparation for the online Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering program, undergraduate coursework should include four semesters of math (with differential equations), two semesters of physics (with electromagnetics), two semesters of chemistry and one programming course.
Essential Soft Skills
If you want to become a biomedical engineer, you’ll need several well-honed soft skills: nontechnical strengths, applicable to a wide range of tasks, roles and professions, that enable people to work effectively in groups and organizations. They include:4
- Analysis: Bioengineers and biomedical engineers have to be able to assess customers’ and patients’ needs before designing products for them
- Spoken and written communication: Interaction with customers, patients and colleagues requires clear, detailed expression in person and in written reports and research documents
- Creativity: Essential in a career that centers on innovation
- Independent and collaborative problem-solving: Working alone and with others, biomedical engineers must be adept at incorporating new ideas into their problem-solving processes
Education and Experience
You’ll be prepared to succeed in certain biomedical engineering jobs with a bachelor’s degree alone. Many employers, however, require a graduate degree for advanced positions, such as medical scientists or leaders of research teams. In addition, you may need specific research or internship experiences to be considered a competitive candidate for senior roles.3
Earning a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering can open the door to opportunities beyond entry-level jobs in diverse branches of research and development, from biomaterials engineering to device technician training.
Networking and Internships
The best way to discover which area of biomedical engineering is right for you is by exploring varied networking and internship opportunities while you’re still a student. You’ll have the opportunity to talk with people at the forefront of the biomedical engineering field while completing your undergraduate- and graduate-level coursework. You may, for example, present on a conference panel with a leading biomedical developer or study with a renowned faculty member.
It’s also worthwhile to explore research opportunities at your current institution and apply for engineering co-ops through which you’ll gain on-the-job training and experience of the industry firsthand.2
Professional Certifications and Licensure
Certain branches of biomedical engineering involve professional licenses and certifications. These are important in communicating your particular training background and skillset to a potential employer. For example, the Certified Biomedical Auditor certificate can help you qualify for roles as a medical device auditor,5 while the Master Certified Electronics Technician certificate can put you in the running for engineering positions that use bioelectronics.6
According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, two crucial steps in getting the proper certifications are passing your Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams.7 Following the proper educational track, including getting your bachelor’s degree and gaining related professional experience, should prepare you to sit for these exams.
Current Knowledge of Industry Trends
The field of biomedical engineering develops quickly, so you’ll constantly need to learn about new industry trends. This lifelong learning can come in many forms, from attending conferences and industry webinars to reading recent publications. Joining and becoming active in professional organizations such as the Biomedical Engineering Society can also give you access to the latest information within the industry.
Possible Career Paths in Biomedical Engineering
Building a successful career in biomedical engineering is an important and meaningful way to improve lives all over the world. From a more technical perspective, it’s one of the top fields when it comes to filing patents for new technologies.1 A reputable master’s degree opens up a diverse range of opportunities for your future:8
Industry-employed bioengineers are leaders in medical device, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as with medical equipment and supply manufacturers. Their work may involve designing instruments, devices and software; gathering knowledge from disparate technical sources to develop new procedures; conducting research to solve clinical problems; and teaching professionals in the healthcare industry how to use new medical technologies. Some employer companies concentrate on a particular field or disease, while others focus on diagnostic testing or medication-delivery models.
Bioengineers employed in academia work at colleges, universities and technical schools, teaching and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers. They conduct independent research and direct research facilities that are supported by trainees and students. Their careers include publishing new research and presenting at conferences.
Government and Policy
You may choose to pursue a science policy position with an international organization or a scientific society, charity, think tank, lobby group or other non-governmental organization.
Biomedical engineers also work in labs and agencies supported by local, federal and state governments. Across the country and worldwide, the needs and career opportunities for bioengineers are widely varied, from technical advisor to program officer to agency director.
In clinical environments, biomedical engineers work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. Those with medical degrees work as doctors and surgeons, using their knowledge of medicine and engineering to care for and treat patients in collaboration with other physicians, nurses, therapists and technicians.
Help Shape the Future of Healthcare
As the demand for care in clinical settings continues to increase, advance your career in biomedical engineering. Case Western Reserve University’s online Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering degree program combines the flexibility of 100% online learning, a robust curriculum and the expertise of faculty with vast research experience.
Become an innovative leader who can help meet a growing need. Start by getting in touch with an admissions outreach advisor today.
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25571152/
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/biomedical-engineer
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm#tab-4
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from asq.org/cert/resource/pdf/certification/FactSheets/CBA%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from zippia.com/biomedical-engineering-technician-jobs/certifications/
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from healthcaredegree.com/lab/biomedical-engineer
- Retrieved on November 1, 2023, from navigate.aimbe.org/find-your-dream-job/career-pathways-in-bioengineering/