Choosing A Career In Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical engineering is an engineering field that involves the use of biology, medicine and engineering to analyse and design solutions that will improve patient care in healthcare facilities.
The objective of biomedical engineering is to enhance health care by solving complex medical problems using engineering principles. Careers related to biomedical engineering include careers in environmental engineering, pharmaceutical engineering, pharmaceutical technology, nursing and agricultural science.
Acording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for biomedical engineers as of May 2020 was $92 620. However, the actual earning potential of a biomedical engineer varies based on factors such as experience, geographical location and employer. The lowest paid make $50 000 or less whilst the highest paid make more than $150 000.
Qualifications needed to become a biomedical engineer
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering is required for entry level positions in biomedical engineering. However, research or supervisory positions typically require a master’s degree or a Doctorate degree (Ph.D). In addition to college/ university degree, there are licensure requirements that must be met before a biomedical engineer can work directly with the public.
A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree that takes four years to complete. An undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering usually serve as a prerequisite for some entry-level jobs in biomedical engineering.
For most universities around the world, applicants for a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering are typically expected to have A-level passes is biology, physics, and chemistry. At University of Zimbabwe, BSc Honours Biomedical Engineering requires A-Level passes in at least two of the following subjects:
A master’s degree is a postgraduate that usually take 2 years to complete after a student has finished a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree in biomedical engineering is usually required for research and supervisory positions.
Some universities can even allow a student to take a postgraduate degree in biomedical engineering after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in general engineering fields such as electrical engineering or mechanical engineering.
A doctorate degree is a postgraduate degree that can take up to four years to complete after a student has completed the master’s degree program. Students with a Ph.D. are often qualified to hold positions in teaching or research for private or government organizations
A doctorate degree (Ph.D) program trains students for advanced research is specialised areas of biomedical engineering such as molecular biology or cell and tissue engineering.
What do biomedical engineers do?
Biomedical engineers are sworn to serve the public and work hand in hand with health care professionals in doing so. They design medical devices that give life to people whose organs are failing. For example, pacemakers are built by biomedical engineers to breath life into patients whose hearts are failing, so that they can lead a close to normal life.
Biomedical engineers specialise in the following:
- Artificial organs such as hearing aids, kidneys, hearts, synthetic blood vessels, pacemakers, etc.
- Prosthetic devices such as arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes, etc.
- Automated monitoring devices for surgery patients, intensive care patients, astronauts in space, deep sea divers, etc.
- Blood chemistry sensors for detecting and maintaining body levels of potassium, sodium, oxygen, carbon dioxide, pH balance, etc.
- Advanced therapeutic and surgical devices such as laser systems for eye surgery, endoscopic surgery, and automated delivery of insulin.
- Clinical laboratory instruments and softwares such as computer analysers for blood or urine samples.
- Medical imaging systems such as ultrasound, computer assisted tomography (CAT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET).
- Sports medicine in physiotherapy as well as external support
- and many more
Branches of biomedical engineering
The biomedical engineering is a powerful and dynamic engineering field that is rapidly evolving with technology. It provides a satisfying career with tremendous diversity and growth potential.
The main branches of biomedical engineering include:
- biomechanical engineering
- bioelectrical engineering
- biochemical engineering
- rehabilitation engineering
- clinical engineering
- genetic engineering.
Biochemical engineers deal with the body’s functions and response on a microscopic level. They use knowledge of anatomy, biochemistry, and cellular mechanics to understand how diseases affect the body and how to create methods intervention.
Biomedical engineers deal with electrical and electronic medical devices such as digital thermometers, pacemakers, CAT and MRI machines, electrocardiogram machines. They also design softwares that help doctors and other healthcare givers in treating patients.
Biomedical engineers also design and create devices that allow patients to self-monitor and regulate their medical conditions.
Biomechanical engineers investigate and study the motion of the human body, the stresses and deformations on bones, muscles and artificial limbs, by treating the human body as a mechanical structure. Biomechanical engineers also design artificial limbs, and joint replacements.
Clinical engineering is a branch of biomedical engineering that uses technology to assist health care organisations such as hospitals and medical equipment vendors. They also maintain biomedical equipment and provide training for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals on how to use the equipment.
Genetic engineering is a branch of biomedical engineering that researches biomedical problems on a microscopic level in order to manipulate DNA and cellular growth. They study the structure and mechanics of cells to get a better insight into how diseases affect the body at cell level.
Rehabilitation engineering is a branch of biomedical engineering that involves the research and development of technologies that assist people living with disabilities. Rehabilitation engineers develop devices such as powered wheelchairs, hearing aids, electronic talking devices, grab bars for showers and restrooms, etc. They also develop recreational assistive technologies that help disabled people in sport and recreational activities.
Biomedical engineering is a diverse field that offers a wonderful way to make an impact on society and ensure its welfare. . Biomedical engineers work in hospitals, governmental health organisations, medical technology companies, medical research laboratories, and universities.
To learn more about biomedical engineering and its job opportunities you can visit the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) website.