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Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBKj9Uh1PgI.
Quick Facts: Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers
2019 Median Pay $91,410 per year
$43.95 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2019 21,200
Job Outlook, 2019-29 5% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 1,000

What Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers Do

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software.

Work Environment

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers work in manufacturing, in research facilities, and for a variety of other employers. Most work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Bioengineer or Biomedical Engineer

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering or biomedical engineering or in a related engineering field. Some positions require a graduate degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $91,410 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of bioengineers and biomedical engineers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing numbers of technologies and applications to medical equipment and devices, along with the medical needs of a growing and aging population, will require the services of these workers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for bioengineers and biomedical engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of bioengineers and biomedical engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about bioengineers and biomedical engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers Do About this section

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers install, maintain, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment.

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software.

Duties

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design equipment and devices, such as artificial internal organs, replacements for body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
  • Install, maintain, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
  • Collaborate with manufacturing staff on the safety and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
  • Train clinicians and others on the proper use of biomedical equipment
  • Work with scientists to research how engineering principles apply to biological systems
  • Develop statistical models or simulations using statistical or modeling software
  • Prepare procedures and write technical reports and research papers
  • Present research findings to a variety of audiences, including scientists, clinicians, managers, other engineers, and the public
  • Design or conduct followup experiments as needed

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers frequently work in research and development or quality assurance.

The work of bioengineers spans many fields. For example, although their expertise is in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Others use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Still others draw on math and statistics to understand signals transmitted by the brain or heart. Some are involved in sales.

Biomedical engineers focus on advances in technology and medicine to develop new devices and equipment for improving human health. For example, they might design software to run medical equipment or computer simulations to test new drug therapies. In addition, they design and build artificial body parts, such as hip and knee joints, or develop materials to make replacement parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.

The following are examples of types of bioengineers and biomedical engineers:

Biochemical engineers focus on cell structures and microscopic systems to create products for bioremediation, biological waste treatment, and other uses.

Bioinstrumentation engineers use electronics, computer science, and measurement principles to develop tools for diagnosing and treating medical problems.

Biomaterials engineers study naturally occurring or laboratory-designed substances for use in medical devices or implants.

Biomechanics engineers study thermodynamics and other systems to solve biological or medical problems.

Clinical engineers apply medical technology to improve healthcare.

Genetic engineers alter the genetic makeup of organism using recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) technology, such as in developing vitamin-fortified food crops to prevent disease in humans.

Rehabilitation engineers develop devices that aid people who are recovering from or adapting to physical or cognitive impairments.

Systems physiologists use engineering tools to understand how biological systems function and respond to changes in their environment.

Other bioengineering occupations are described in separate profiles; see, for example, chemical engineers and agricultural engineers. Some people with training in biomedical engineering become postsecondary teachers.

Work Environment About this section

Bioengineers and medical engineers
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers work in laboratory and clinical settings.

Biomedical engineers held about 21,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of biomedical engineers were as follows:

Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing 17%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 14
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 9
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 8
Healthcare and social assistance 8

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers work on teams with scientists, healthcare workers, or other engineers. Where and how they work depends on the project. For example, a biomedical engineer who has developed a new device might spend hours in a hospital to ensure that the device works as planned. If the device needs adjusting, the engineer might need to suggest alterations in the manufacturing process.

Work Schedules

Most bioengineers and biomedical engineers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Bioengineer or Biomedical Engineer About this section

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering, biomedical engineering, or a related engineering field. Some positions require a graduate degree.

Education

In high school, students interested in becoming bioengineers or biomedical engineers should take classes in sciences such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They should also study math, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. If available, classes in drafting, mechanical drawing, and computer programming are also useful.

At the bachelor’s degree level, prospective bioengineers should enter bioengineering or traditional engineering programs, such as mechanical and electrical. Students who pursue traditional engineering degrees may benefit from taking biological science courses.

Bachelor’s degree programs in bioengineering and biomedical engineering focus on engineering and biological sciences. These programs typically include laboratory- and classroom-based courses in biological sciences and subjects such as fluid and solid mechanics, circuit design, and biomaterials.

These programs also include substantial training in engineering design. As part of their study, students may have an opportunity to participate in co-ops or internships with hospitals and medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. Bioengineering and biomedical engineering programs are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers must assess the needs of patients and customers prior to designing products.

Communication skills. Because bioengineers and biomedical engineers sometimes work with patients and customers and frequently work on teams, they must be able to express themselves clearly in discussions. They also write reports and research papers.

Creativity. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers must be creative to come up with innovations in healthcare equipment and devices.

Math skills. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers use calculus and other advanced math and statistics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers typically deal with intricate biological systems. They must be able to work independently and with others to incorporate ideas into the complex problem-solving process.

Advancement

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers may increase their responsibilities as they gain experience or advanced degrees. To lead a research team, a bioengineer or biomedical engineer typically needs a graduate degree. Those who are interested in basic research may become medical scientists.

Some bioengineers attend medical or dental school to specialize in techniques such as using electric impulses in new ways to get muscles moving again. Others earn law degrees and work as patent attorneys. Still 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.

Pay About this section

Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2019

Engineers

$94,500

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers

$91,410

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for bioengineers and biomedical engineers was $91,410 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $55,280, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $148,210.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for biomedical engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing $105,720
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 92,230
Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing 89,400
Healthcare and social assistance 77,520
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 73,300

Most bioengineers and biomedical engineers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers

5%

Engineers

4%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Employment of bioengineers and biomedical engineers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers are expected to see employment growth because of increasing technologies and their applications to medical equipment and devices. Smartphone technology and three-dimensional printing are examples of technology being applied to biomedical advances.

As the baby-boom generation lives longer and stays active, the demand for bioengineers and biomedical devices and procedures, such as hip and knee replacements, is expected to increase. In addition, as the public awareness of medical advances continues, increasing numbers of people will seek biomedical solutions to their health problems from their physicians.

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers work with scientists, other medical researchers, and manufacturers to address a range of injuries and physical disabilities. The ability of these engineers to collaborate on activities with workers from other fields is enlarging the range of applications for biomedical engineering products and services.

Job Prospects

About 1,400 openings for bioengineers and biomedical engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment projections data for bioengineers and biomedical engineers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers

17-2031 21,200 22,200 5 1,000 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of bioengineers and biomedical engineers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2019 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Agricultural engineers

Agricultural Engineers

Agricultural engineers solve problems concerning power supplies, machine efficiency, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

Bachelor's degree $80,720
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor's degree $144,830
Biochemists and biophysicists

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes.

Doctoral or professional degree $94,490
Chemical engineers

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems that involve the use of fuel, drugs, food, and many other products.

Bachelor's degree $108,770
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor's degree $101,250
Materials engineers

Materials Engineers

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.

Bachelor's degree $93,360
Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor's degree $88,430
Medical scientists

Medical Scientists

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health.

Doctoral or professional degree $88,790
Physicians and surgeons

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses.

Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.
Sales engineers

Sales Engineers

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses.

Bachelor's degree $103,900

Contacts for More Information About this section

For information about education and career resources for bioengineering, biomedical engineering, and general engineering, visit

American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

American Society for Engineering Education

Biomedical Engineering Society

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society

Technology Student Association

For information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

CareerOneStop

For a career video on biomedical engineers, visit

Biomedical Engineers

O*NET

Biomedical Engineers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm (visited February 15, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Monday, February 1, 2021

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

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Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2019

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2019, which is the base year of the 2019-29 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2019-29

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029. The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent.

Employment Change, 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.