- Median Annual Income: $77,400
- Education Needed: Bachelor’s degree or higher
- Expected Job Growth: 72%
Biomedical engineers combine medicine and engineering to create innovative solutions to medical problems. They design medical research devices, artificial organs, and prostheses.
Engineers in any specialty typically begin with a bachelor’s degree. While engineering degrees can be specialized, some degrees can apply across engineering branches. Engineering students will study mathematics, physical and life sciences, and general engineering.
Students interested in working in a research laboratory should complete a graduate degree. Depending on the type of work being performed, engineers may also be required to obtain licensure and further certification. A background in mechanical or electronics engineering is also helpful for gaining entry in the biomedical field.
The job outlook for biomedical engineers is excellent. In fact, the BLS cites biomedical engineering as the fastest growing of all the engineering specialties, with a 72% growth rate. 11,600 new biomedical engineering jobs are expected by 2018. In 2008, biomedical engineers were earning a median annual salary of $77,400, and the top 10% were earning over $120,00 per year. Biomedical engineers entering the field with a bachelor’s degree typically started at around $54,000 per year.
Specializations Available to Biomedical Engineers
The myriad specializations in biomedical engineering exist because the use of mathematics, medicine, and science breed innovation and generate a multitude of distinctive approaches to biology. When technology is added, the specializations proliferate. The universal theme for all biomedical engineering specialization is for the benefit of living systems.
These are some of the fundamental biomedical engineering specializations:
- Bioinformatics - Computer tools are developed and utilized to collect and assess biology and medicine information like managing gene search databases.
- BioMEMS - MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) integrates mechanical sensors, electronics, sensors, and elements on a silicone chip to develop tools like microrobots.
- Biomaterials - Substances are engineered to be used in devices or implants that interact with living tissue like artificial joint implants.
- Biomechanics - Biology applied mechanics examines motion, fluid flow, and material deformation like in blood circulation examinations to create artifical hearts.
- Biosignal Processing - Useful information is extracted from biological signals for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes like detecting brain signals used to control a computer.
- Biotechnology - A set of tools that incorporates living organisms to create or alter products, develop microorganisms, and improve animals and plants for explicit uses like hazardous contaminant's bioremediation-degradation to assist living organisms
- Clinical Engineering - Patient care is supported and advanced with managerial skills and engineering through health care technologies which can be used in medical product development.
- Genomics - Mapping, analyzing, and sequencing genomes is a new field where new treatment of diseases can occur.
- Imaging and Imaging Processing - Ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT), X-rays, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allow a view inside the body where low cost image systems are developed.
- Information Technology - Diverse applications and technologies are covered in this biomedicine area like using virtual reality in applications of medicine.
- Instrumentation, Sensors, and Measurement - The design of hardware and software that calculate biological signals and includes the building instrumentation systems like heart monitoring systems.
- Micro and Nanotechnology - Microtechnology is creating and using devices on a micrometer scale, and nanotechnology is developing and utilizing devices on a nanometer scale where microscopic tissue properties are changed and identified.
- Neural Systems and Engineering - This new multidisciplinary field studies the brain and nervous system with replacement or restoration sensory and motor abilities occuring.
- Physiological Systems Modeling - Therapeutic innovations and medical diagnostic applications are developed as a comprehensive knowledge of living functions of organisms is understood.
- Proteomics - Studies the set of all proteins that species produces and can explain how infections are spread.
- Radiology - The use of X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound to create body images of organs and structures where a diagnosis and treatment of a disease can ensure.
- Rehabilitation Engineering - Science and technology is applied for people with disabilities to improve their quality of life.
- Robotics in Surgery - Image-processing systems and robotics assist medical teams in preparing and administering a surgery.
As technologies evolve, more specializations are expected to be invented in the field of biomedical engineering.