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Career Information

Biomedical Engineers: Career, Salary and Education Information

Career Profile: What do Biomedical Engineers do?
Biomedical engineers combine biology, medicine, and engineering and use advanced knowledge of engineering and science to solve medical and health-related problems. Biomedical engineers design massive MRI machines along with the microscopic machines used in surgery. They research and develop prostheses, evaluate the use of artificial organs, and improve instrumentation used in hospitals and clinics.

An increasing demand for cost-effective medical products should boost the demand for biomedical engineers, particularly those working in pharmaceutical manufacturing and research. The best job prospects are expected for biomedical engineers with master's degrees in the field.

A Day in the Life of a Biomedical Engineer
Working in teams, either with other engineers or with research or manufacturing professionals, biomedical engineers create the specialized products that save lives and make patients safer and more comfortable. Many biomedical engineers are in research, assisting life scientists, chemists, and other scientists to develop and evaluate medical systems and products.

A sophisticated level of scientific and technical knowledge is required for biomedical engineers, who bridge the gap between medicine and engineering. Attention to detail is another important skill, along with communication and team ability.

Biomedical Engineer Training and Education
A bachelor's degree is the first step for engineers because most careers in the field require the degree as an entry level requirement. Biomedical engineers often combine formal training in mechanical and electronics engineering with focused biomedical training to operate confidently in the field. Unlike many engineering fields, many entry-level biomedical engineers hold a master's degree.

Some schools provide undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering and ypical coursework includes instruction in neuroengineering fundamentals; biofluid mechanics; engineering electrophysiology; diagnostic imaging physics; and drug design, development, and delivery. In addition to core courses, students can take electives related to their ultimate career goals.

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Biomedical Engineer Employment & Outlook
Of the 14,000 biomedical engineers employed nationwide, most are employed in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing. Other large employing groups include pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, scientific and research development services, and general medical and surgical hospitals.

Although some engineering specialties are expected to rise slowly or even decline in the coming years, biomedical engineers should see growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 21 percent growth for biomedical engineers, with an estimated 3,000 new careers created in the industry through 2016. The demand for increasingly sophisticated medical devices is behind the predicted employment increase.

Biomedical Engineer Salary
Biomedical engineers saw mean annual earnings of $79,610 in 2007, according to the BLS. Those working in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing saw slightly higher salaries, at $81,950, while those working in scientific research and development earned $92,870. Careers with the most competition often require applicants to have a master's degree.

Burea of Labor Statistics, Engineers
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Engineers