What Biomedical Engineers Do
Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software.
Most biomedical engineers work in manufacturing, universities, hospitals, and research facilities of companies and educational and medical institutions. They usually work full time.
How to Become a Biomedical Engineer
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.
The median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $91,410 in May 2019.
Employment of 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 biomedical engineers.
Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.
Biomedical engineers typically do the following:
- Design biomedical equipment and devices, such as artificial internal organs, replacements for body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
- Install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
- Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
- Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of biomedical equipment
- Research the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists
- Prepare procedures, write technical reports, publish research papers, and make recommendations based on their research findings
- Present research findings to scientists, nonscientist executives, clinicians, hospital management, engineers, other colleagues, and the public
Biomedical engineers design instruments, devices, and software used in healthcare; develop new procedures using knowledge from many technical sources; or conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. They frequently work in research and development or quality assurance.
Biomedical engineers design electrical circuits, 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. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.
The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on math and statistics to build models to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart. Some may be involved in sales.
The following are examples of specialty areas within the field of biomedical engineering:
Bioinstrumentation uses electronics, computer science, and measurement principles to develop instruments used in the diagnosis and treatment of medical problems.
Biomaterials is the study of naturally occurring or laboratory-designed materials that are used in medical devices or as implantation materials.
Biomechanics involves the study of mechanics, such as thermodynamics, to solve biological or medical problems.
Clinical engineering applies medical technology to optimize healthcare delivery.
Rehabilitation engineering is the study of engineering and computer science to develop devices that assist individuals recovering from or adapting to physical and cognitive impairments.
Systems physiology uses engineering tools to understand how systems within living organisms, from bacteria to humans, function and respond to changes in their environment.
Some people with training in biomedical engineering become postsecondary teachers.
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|
Biomedical engineers work in 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 designed to help a person with a disability to walk again might have to spend hours in a hospital to determine whether the device works as planned. If the engineer finds a way to improve the device, he or she might have to return to the manufacturer to help alter the manufacturing process to improve the design.
Biomedical engineers usually work full time on a normal schedule. However, as with employees in almost any engineering occupation, biomedical engineers occasionally may have to work additional hours to meet the needs of patients, managers, colleagues, and clients. Some biomedical engineers work more than 40 hours per week.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of biomedical engineers.
For information about general engineering education and biomedical engineering career resources, visit
For information about accredited engineering programs, visit
For a career video on biomedical engineers, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Biomedical Engineers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm (visited ).