BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING DEGREES AND CAREERS
What You'll Do
By Jennifer Wegerer
Combining biology and medicine with engineering, biomedical engineering professionals 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.
Biomedical engineers stand at the forefront of making the U.S. a healthier place. Their technical expertise and training prepares them for work in scientific research and development; for companies that manufacture pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies, and other health-related products; and for medical and surgical hospitals.
Several factors have influenced the high demand for engineers who understand how to develop sophisticated medical devices and equipment:
- An aging population and a growing focus on health issues—biomedical engineering produces the leading-edge medical tools that can accurately and efficiently help diagnose, or rule out serious medical conditions.
- Cost-effectiveness—when it comes to manufacturing complex medical devices and supplies, biomedical engineers have the medical and engineering expertise that companies need to produce that equipment in a cost-effective manner.
The Future of Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical engineering fosters a positive relationship between medical science and technology, with the goal of achieving maximum benefits for human health and well-being. Consider just a few examples of the ways in which biomedical engineering continues to make an impact on everyday life in the U.S.:
- ScienceDaily reports that recent research conducted at Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES) has helped advance cancer detection and progression in the human body based on a revolutionary new technology called microfluidics, the behavior of fluids at the microscale level.
- According to News-Medical.net, biomedical engineering researchers at North Carolina State University recently developed a "smart coating" that helps surgical implants, such as hips, knees and dental replacements, better bond with bone, warding off infection and even encouraging bone growth.
- BusinessWeek details how biomedical engineering researchers at the University of Michigan discovered through lab tests that rocking embryos before implanting them into the womb has the potential to increase the success of in vitro fertilization.
Schools & Degree Programs
Performing the complex work of biomedical engineering requires highly specialized biomedical training. Biomaterials, biomechanics, medical imaging, and orthopedic engineering are just a few of the specialties students can choose.
Colleges and universities throughout the U.S. offer bachelor's, master's, and PhD programs in biomedical engineering. A majority of biomedical engineering positions, particularly those in research and development, require a master's degree or higher.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median national annual salary for biomedical engineers is $99,550. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Did you know?
Between the years 1900 and 2000, the average life expectancy in the United States increased from 47 years to 77 years. Extraordinary advances in medical devices that have contributed to our increased life expectancy include:
The electrocardiograph machine (EKG), developed in 1903, measures and helps diagnose abnormal rhythms of the heart. Orthopedics meets engineering in the late 1950s with the development of the first artificial hip replacement procedure. A key invention of the 20th century, laser technology enters the scene in the 1960s as a way to treat diabetic eye disease; in the 1980s it is used for correcting myopia through Lasik surgery.