What is a Biomedical Engineer: Duties, Salary, How to Become One & Courses

what is a biomedical engineer
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Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary field combining engineering and medical sciences principles to develop biomedical solutions such as designing and manufacturing devices, apparatus, and medical equipment. A biomedical engineer makes significant contributions to the advancement of healthcare as well as the improvement of patient’s quality of life through the integration of engineering concepts with medical expertise. 

This article will explain what a biomedical engineer is, their duties, how you can become one, and also the courses biomedical engineering students have to take.

What is a Biomedical Engineer?

A biomedical engineer is an engineer who works on medical problems by applying the concepts and practices of engineering to healthcare and medicine to find solutions to difficulties. They design and develop medical devices, equipment, and systems by combining their understanding of biology, medicine, and engineering to improve patient care, diagnosis, and treatment. These individuals collaborate extensively with other medical professionals, scientists, and researchers to identify and handle the many difficulties present in the medical industry.

The Importance of a Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers are essential in creating novel technologies and solutions that affect healthcare outcomes. They are usually involved in the creation of imaging systems, the development of medication delivery systems, the design of diagnostic tools and equipment, and the design of prosthetics and artificial organs. Furthermore, during their work, they frequently engage in activities such as conducting research, carrying out experiments, evaluating data, and collaborating with teams of experts from various fields to assure their designs’ safety, efficacy, and regulatory compliance.

What Does a Biomedical Engineer Do?

  • Biomedical engineers contribute to creating medical devices and equipment for people with impairments or medical conditions.
  • They assist in developing and improving medical imaging technologies for the correct diagnosis and monitoring of diseases.
  • They contribute to the field of tissue engineering by developing biomaterials that encourage the formation of artificial organs and the regeneration of natural tissue. 
  • Biomedical engineers make researches and inventions that can transform the healthcare system by introducing novel treatment options and enhancing patient outcomes.

Duties of a Biomedical Engineer

There are multiple duties that a biomedical engineer carries out; they include the following:

  • Design and create biomedical technologies such as artificial internal organs, body parts, machines, equipment, and software that can be used for diagnosing and treating medical problems.
  • They provide engineering and clinical expertise in the design, development, manufacture, and clinical application of advanced and basic life support products and accessories.
  • Conduct research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, on the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals.
  • Installing, maintaining, and providing technical assistance for biomedical equipment are all examples of what this job entails.
  • Train clinicians and other personnel on how to use biomedical machines and equipment safely and effectively
  • They diagnose and interpret bioelectric data using signal processing techniques.
  • Work with the manufacturing personnel to ensure the biomedical equipment’s quality, reliability, and efficacy.
  • Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical machines, equipment, and software.
  • Research new materials to be used for products such as implanted artificial organs.
  • Advise hospital administrators on the planning, acquiring, and using of medical equipment.
  • Deliver a presentation on the research findings to different audiences, such as scientists, physicians, managers, other engineers, and the general public.
  • Spearheading projects entails designing, implementing, and sustaining medical equipment and health information systems throughout their entire life cycle.
  • Teaching biomedical engineering or disseminating knowledge about the field through writing or consulting

Skills Required for a Biomedical Engineer

Necessary skills for a biomedical engineer include:

  • Analytical skills: biomedical engineers must determine what patients and customers need before designing a product.
  • Creativity: biomedical engineers must think outside the box to develop new medical devices and tool ideas.
  • Problem-solving skills: Most of the time, biomedical engineers work with complex biological processes. They have to be able to work alone and with others to add ideas to handling problems.
  • Science: Biomedical engineers must use scientific rules and methods to solve problems. This includes applying their biology, physics, and chemistry knowledge to their work.
  • Critical thinking: Biomedical engineers must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Communication: Biomedical engineers must have practical interpersonal communication skills, as much of their work involves collaboration with other professionals and stakeholders. They must communicate their research findings and designs effectively to various audiences.
  • Research skills: Biomedical engineers must have good reading comprehension and writing skills to document their findings. They must also research their designs’ applicability and viability before further testing.
  • Technological skills: Biomedical engineers need proficiency in computers and other computer technologies. They use scientific and analytic software, computer-aided design, and medical software.
  • Mathematics: A biomedical engineer must use mathematics to solve problems. They use the principles of math to create designs. Also, they use the scientific method to ensure the design is usable in biomedical research or the treatment of patients.
  • Judgment and decision-making: Biomedical engineers must consider the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. They must also make decisions based on data analysis and their knowledge of scientific principles.
  • Time management: Biomedical engineers must manage their own time and the time of others effectively to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.

Do Biomedical Engineers Make a Lot of Money?

A biomedical engineer can make a lot of money depending on the individual level of education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years spent in the profession, and the employer. However, the average salary for a biomedical engineer in the United States is around $70,000 annually.

What is a Biomedical Engineer Salary

The average salary for a biomedical engineer is between $61,535 and $78,388 in the United States. However, it’s important to note that the salary for a biomedical engineer varies depending on education, certifications, skills, and experience level.

Top three states where a biomedical engineer earns the most salary

  • New Mexico
    • The average salary for a biomedical engineer per hour: $64.48
    • Average biomedical engineering salary per year: $134,120
  • Arizona
    • The average salary for a  biomedical engineer per hour: $58.16
    • Average biomedical engineering salary per year: $120,970
  • Minnesota
    • The average salary for a biomedical engineer per hour: $57.33
    • Average biomedical engineering salary per year: $119,250

How to Become a Biomedical Engineer

To become a biomedical engineer, there are certain things and steps you would have to take.

#1. Education

If you want to become a biomedical engineer, start planning when you are in high school. You should:

  • Take advanced placement classes in related fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
  • If offered, also take classes in modeling, mechanical drawing, and computer programming; they will be helpful.
  • Participate in extracurricular activities such as science, math, and robotics teams, coding clubs, and STEM-related summer programs to gain valuable insight into the industry.
  • Develop strong communication skills by taking humanities courses and practicing regularly.

After high school, you should get a higher degree, preferably in bioengineering, biomedical engineering, or another engineering area.

  • Enroll in a four-year biomedical engineering program or any engineering field, then obtain a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.
  • To ensure quality education and meet other requirements for graduate-level admissions, credentialing, or employment by some employers, confirm that the program has received accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

#2. Gain Professional Experience

Gaining experience before seeking full employment as a biomedical engineer can be very beneficial.

  • As you complete your degree, look for related employment or volunteer experience to understand better what to expect upon graduation.
  • Consider completing an internship in your fourth year, as many undergraduate engineering programs include this opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience before graduation.

#3. Consider Earning an Advanced Degree

An advanced degree is optional for a biomedical engineer, but obtaining one will help you advance quickly.

  • Pursue a master’s degree in biomedical engineering to be eligible for additional and sometimes more lucrative employment.
  • Consider taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam after you’ve worked in the industry for at least four years to advance in the field.

Biomedical Engineering Courses

Students pursuing biomedical engineering courses are trained in biomedical engineering and the medical sciences. They learn to develop innovative solutions to diagnose illnesses, treat health problems, and enhance health.

To pursue a major in biomedical engineering, students must complete around 128 credits. The curriculum for the major is divided into four years. The breakdown of the biomedical engineering courses sequence is as follows:

  • The first year includes basic mathematics, physics, chemistry, and an introduction to biomedical engineering course.
  • The second year includes upper-level mathematics, engineering statics and dynamics, electrical circuit analysis, genetic engineering, and the BME Fundamentals of Research laboratory course.
  • In the third year, students begin taking technical elective courses unique to each specialization track, complete the BME core courses of advanced statics (biomechanics) and dynamics (biofluids), and are introduced to the emerging field of biophotonics.
  • In the final year, students complete their technical electives and take the senior design capstone course.

To pursue a minor in biomedical engineering, students must complete 21-23 credits with the required courses, including:

  • Introduction to biomedical engineering
  • Programming for Engineers
  • Genetic engineering or nanofabrication in biomedical applications

Graduates of biomedical engineering courses often pursue careers in health, design, robotics, and research and usually work in industry, healthcare centers, research laboratories, and more.

Do Biomedical Engineers Go to Med School?

Biomedical engineers do not need to go to med school. The educational prerequisites for a biomedical engineer are a bachelor’s degree in biology, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, or a field substantially equivalent to these areas of study. 

Although attending medical school may be desirable for certain biomedical engineers, it is not necessary to practice; nonetheless, they are required to obtain a license in most states. This means that individuals interested in working in this industry must get this license to operate by completing the necessary test and fulfilling all prerequisite criteria.

Is a Biomedical Engineer a Doctor?

No, a biomedical engineer is not a doctor. The educational paths for a doctor and a biomedical engineer are different. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering is often required for employment as a biomedical engineer. They could learn the principles of engineering, chemistry, and biology if they earned this degree. 

However, someone with a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in biomedical engineering can be referred to as a doctor; however, this degree differs from an MD and does not provide the right to engage in medical practice.

Can Biomedical Engineers Become Surgeons?

Biomedical engineers can become surgeons but can’t practice the specialty with a biomedical engineering degree. Hence, for biomedical engineers to become surgeons, they have to pursue a medical degree.

Do Biomedical Engineers Design Drugs?

Biomedical engineers work in various disciplines. Some bioengineers build computer software to operate complex instruments, such as X-ray machines that produce three-dimensional images. In comparison, some bioengineers apply their understanding of chemistry and biology to create new medicinal treatments. 

The testing of millions of possible combinations to develop new pharmaceuticals is an example of the kind of engineering work that falls under the umbrella of biomedical engineering. This type of work includes genetic engineering, tissue engineering, and fluid engineering.

What is Another Name for Biomedical Engineering?

Another name for biomedical engineering is medical engineering. The terms biomedical engineering and medical engineering are often used interchangeably to describe the same field.

What Is the Difference Between Medical Engineering and Biomedical?

There is no difference between medical engineering and biomedical engineering; they are terms that refer to the same concept and can be used interchangeably.


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