"I keep hearing about biomedical engineering as a possible career option. It seems to be all the rage these days. I keep finding it on lists of high earning careers with lots of opportunity. I have no idea what biomedical engineers do, though. It sounds highly technical, and more than a little intimidating. I like biology though, so it seems like I should consider it. Can you tell me more about it?"
Asked by Larry from Phoenix, AZ on December 17, 2013
Biomedical engineering is indeed receiving a lot of press these days. The field is in increasing demand, because it is connected to medical work, and the medical industry is growing in all respects these days. We have an aging population that needs extra medical care and attention, so researchers who help to develop new medical technologies are highly valued and well paid.
As a biomedical engineer, you may work in a number of different capacities. You could be involved directly in developing new medical technology which is used to diagnose and treat patients. Some biomedical engineers work in research labs assisting with the use of technology that is used to help research and develop treatments.
Or you might work in a hospital, providing information about how to use the equipment, supervising its use, and testing its performance. Some biomedical engineers also perform highly skilled maintenance work on medical equipment in hospitals and clinics. Biomedical engineers may also work for the government. In a government position, you will test the safety and efficacy of biomedical technology before it hits the market. You may also choose to work in a marketing department with a company. You might help to sell biomedical equipment, for example.
There are a number of different specializations within this field, including bioinstrumentation, biomechanics, biomaterials, systems physiology, clinical engineering, and rehabilitation engineering. Each of these specializations requires advanced medical knowledge, and allows you to apply that knowledge toward specific medical solutions. If you specialize in biomaterials, you may help to design implants, and if you specialize in bioinstrumentation, you may help to develop diagnostic and treatment equipment for diseases. Those who specialize in rehabilitation engineering help to improve quality of life for severely impaired patients. This subfield is growing particularly quickly because of the aging infirmed population.
So as you can see, there is a huge amount of variety just within this one field. Biomedical engineering may sound highly specific when you first learn about it, but as you look deeper into it, you will discover it is actually quite broad. If you are interested in biology and engineering, you will find numerous opportunities to use your expertise to benefit sick and injured patients and help improve quality of life. There are a lot of different work environments you can choose from, and a huge amount of demand.