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.
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.
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.
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.