How to Become a Biomedical Engineer
Biomedical engineers frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.
Biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering, or in a related engineering field. Some positions may require a graduate degree.
Biomedical engineering and traditional engineering programs, such as mechanical and electrical, are typically good preparation for entering biomedical engineering jobs. Students who pursue traditional engineering programs at the bachelor’s level may benefit from taking biological science courses.
Students interested in becoming biomedical engineers should take high school science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They should also take math courses, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting or mechanical drawing and in computer programming are also useful.
Bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical engineering and bioengineering focus on engineering and biological sciences. Programs include laboratory- and classroom-based courses, in subjects such as fluid and solid mechanics, computer programming, circuit design, and biomaterials. Other required courses may include biological sciences, such as physiology.
Accredited programs also include substantial training in engineering design. Many programs include co-ops or internships, often with hospitals and medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, to provide students with practical applications as part of their study. Biomedical engineering and bioengineering programs are accredited by ABET.
Analytical skills. Biomedical engineers must analyze the needs of patients and customers to design appropriate solutions.
Communication skills. Because biomedical engineers sometimes work with patients and frequently work on teams, they must express themselves clearly. They must seek others’ ideas and incorporate those ideas into the problem-solving process.
Creativity. Biomedical engineers must be creative to come up with innovative and integrative advances in healthcare equipment and devices.
Math skills. Biomedical engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in math and statistics, for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
Problem-solving skills. Biomedical engineers typically deal with and solve problems in complex biological systems.
Biomedical engineers typically receive greater responsibility through experience and more education. To lead a research team, a biomedical engineer generally needs a graduate degree. Biomedical engineers who are interested in basic research may become medical scientists.
Some biomedical engineers attend medical or dental school to specialize in various techniques or topical areas, such as using electric impulses in new ways to get muscles moving again. Some earn law degrees and work as patent attorneys. Others pursue a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and move into managerial positions. For more information, see the profiles on lawyers and architectural and engineering managers.