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BIOMEDICAL ENGINEER

High-tech medicine is making waves in the health care field, and biomedical engineers are among those leading the charge. Find out how campus-based and online biomedical engineering schools can prepare you to be a part of the future of health care.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers apply biological and biomechanical principles to the development of new medical devices and systems that aim to foster a higher standard of patient care. Biomedical engineering innovations cover a wide range of functions, and the workers who create them work in a variety of settings in the public as well as the private sector.

Here's a list of on-the-job responsibilities that campus-based and online biomedical engineering schools train students to handle:

  • Designing biomedical devices such as artificial organs and other replacement body parts
  • Developing, installing, evaluating, and maintaining biomedical and diagnostic equipment
  • Working with biologists, chemists and medical scientists to conduct and gather research
  • Presenting research findings to health care managers, executives, scientists and other engineers

Most biomedical engineers work for medical equipment and supplies manufacturing companies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Smaller but still significant percentages were employed at research and development firms, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.

> Check out a related resource for online schools in engineering.

College iconHow much do biomedical engineers make?

The mean annual biomedical engineer salary was $91,230 in 2015, according to the BLS, which works out to an average wage of nearly $44 per hour. The bottom 10 percent of earners in the field were reported as making $51,480 or less in that same data set, while top 10 percent of biomedical engineers took home $139,520 or more.

Several factors come into play when determining any individual biomedical engineer's salary. Experience and education can carry considerable weight with employers, in that those with more schooling or a longer tenure in the profession may command greater compensation, and your chosen industry or the region where you're employed can have a surprising amount of influence on the baseline pay expectation for engineers at any stage of their career.

Here's a table that shows the range of biomedical engineer salary averages across the country, along with some BLS data on total employment and a 2015 cost-of-living rank for the state as calculated by the Council for Community and Economic Research:

State Mean annual biomedical engineer salary, 2015 Total active biomedical engineering jobs, 2015 Affordability rank, 2015
California $104,620 5,100 No. 47
Minnesota $98,690 1,100 No. 28
Texas $85,970 1,000 No. 17
Pennsylvania $75,560 850 No. 33
Oklahoma $69,980 140 No. 4
Kansas $107,970 40 No. 8

And here are similar figures, reflecting the range of biomedical engineer salaries in a few different industries:

Industry Mean annual biomedical engineer salary, 2015 Total active biomedical engineering jobs, 2015
Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing $96,870 4,780
Scientific research and development services $104,490 3,930
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing $88,950 2,290
General medical and surgical hospitals $75,530 1,780
Electromedical, measuring and other instruments manufacturing $88,950 2,290
Offices of physicians $101,190 170

Checkmark iconWhat does it take to become a biomedical engineer?

A bachelor's degree is an absolute requirement for candidates seeking biomedical engineering jobs — fully 100 percent of biomedical engineers surveyed by the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) in 2015 had earned at least a bachelor's degree, with 55 percent of respondents also holding a master's or doctorate. Entry-level roles in the field are accessible to graduates with just a undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, but those seeking senior positions or leadership roles are typically expected to have taken their education to at least the master's level.

High-value skills for biomedical engineers include critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, data collection, dataset analysis, reading comprehension, mathematical fluency, scientific thinking and an understanding of various clinical environments. Creativity, while dismissed as unnecessary by some in the engineering disciplines, can also be a prime asset for engineers working on difficult issues in the field.

What's the career outlook for biomedical engineers?

Biomedical engineering stands tall among the subjects taught in campus-based and online engineering schools, particularly in terms of projected job growth.

  • The BLS reports an expected employment increase of 23 percent for biomedical engineers between 2014 and 2024, leading to raw job gains of more than 5,000 positions nationwide.

That increase, however, is not expected to be perfectly uniform from state to state. Here are some of the brightest job outlooks reported by labor boards and employment bureaus in individual states:

  • Florida: 70.7 percent growth
  • Utah: 67.3 percent growth
  • North Carolina: 47.4 percent growth
  • Colorado: 44.1 percent growth
  • California: 42.6 percent growth

The BLS reports that the growing demand for biological engineers is largely due to the aging baby-boom generation creating greater demand for biomedical devices. Additionally, advancements in communications and materials technology — such as the rise of telemedicine and clinically viable 3-D printing methods and materials — open the door for a new crop of biomedical engineers to apply themselves to the challenges and opportunities of the profession.

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Sources

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed May 30, 2016:
Biomedical Engineers, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172031.htm; Biomedical Engineers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm
2. Cost of Living Data Series, 2015 National Average, Council for Community and Economic Research, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, accessed May 30, 2016, https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/
3. Biomedical Engineers, Occupational Information Network, accessed May 30, 2016, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/17-2031.00
4. Employment Trends by Occupation Across States, Career OneStop, accessed May 30, 2016, http://www.careerinfonet.org/carout3.asp?optstatus=001000000&id=1&nodeid=2&soccode=172031&stfips=04&jobfam=17&menuMode=&order=Percent
5. Summary Report for: Biomedical Engineers, O*Net OnLine,
http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/17-2031.00