Biomedical engineers analyze and design solutions to problems in biology and medicine, with the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care.
Typical Duties of a Biomedical Engineer:
- Design systems and products, such as artificial organs, artificial devices that replace body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems.
- Install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
- Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
- Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of equipment
- Work with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists to research the engineering aspects of biological systems of humans and animals
Biomedical engineers may design instruments, devices, and software; bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures; or conduct research needed to solve clinical problems.
They often serve a coordinating function, using their background in both engineering and medicine. In industry, they may create products where an in-depth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. They frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.
Biomedical engineers design electrical circuits, software to run medical equipment, or computer simulations to test new drug therapies. They also design and build artificial body parts to replace injured limbs. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.
The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on mathematics and statistics to build models to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart.
The median annual wage of biomedical engineers was $81,540 in May 2010. The top 10 percent earned more than $126,990, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,690.
Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of biomedical engineers in May 2010:
|Scientific research and development services||$88,330|
|Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing||$82,820|
|Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing||$81,150|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools (state, local, and private)||$68,070|
|General medical and surgical hospitals (state, local, and private)||$59,010|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.