Biomedical Engineers (Technicians)

By combining biology and medicine with engineering, biomedical engineers develop devices and procedures that  solve medical and health-related problems.

Employment of biomedical engineers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through  2010.

Earnings | Employment | Job Outlook | Nature of the Work


Nature of the Work

By combining biology and medicine with engineering, biomedical engineers develop devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems. Many do research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, on the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals. Biomedical engineers also design devices used in various medical procedures, such as the computers used to analyze blood or the laser systems used in corrective eye surgery. They develop artificial organs, imaging systems such as ultrasound, and 
devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions. Most engineers in this specialty require a sound background in one of the more basic engineering specialties, such as mechanical or electronics engineering, in addition to specialized biomedical training. Some specialties within biomedical engineering include biomaterials, biomechanics, medical imaging, rehabilitation, and orthopedic engineering. 

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Employment

Biomedical engineers held about 7,200 jobs in 2000. Manufacturing industries employed 30 percent of all biomedical engineers, primarily in the medical instruments and supplies industries. Many others worked for health services. Some also worked on a contract basis for government agencies or as independent consultants.

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Job Outlook

Employment of biomedical engineers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through  2010. The aging population and the focus on health issues will increase the demand for better medical devices  and systems designed by biomedical engineers. For example, computer-assisted surgery and cellular and tissue  engineering are being more heavily researched and are developing rapidly. In addition, the rehabilitation and  orthopedic engineering specialties are growing quickly, increasing the need for more biomedical engineers.  Along with the demand for more sophisticated medical equipment and procedures is an increased concern for  cost efficiency and effectiveness that also will increase the need for biomedical engineers.

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Earnings

Median annual earnings of biomedical engineers were $57,480 in 2000. The middle 50 percent earned between $45,760 and $74,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,860 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $90,530. 

According to a 2001 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor's degree candidates in biomedical engineering received starting offers averaging $47,850 a year and master's degree candidates, on average, were offered $62,600.

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