Biomedical Engineer Career Profile

Biomedical engineers work with the technical aspects of supporting medical practice using devices and procedures to solve health-related engineering issues. Artificial limbs, organs and prostheses are typical examples of their work. They are also medically trained. Their training is designed to achieve a thorough comprehension of the medical issues in their work, and both medical and engineering training are closely linked throughout the training schematic. 

Biomedical engineering is both a practical and a research field. The two areas are linked by experience, specializations, and areas of need in practical medical situations.

The basic work 

Typical biomedical engineering work is based on dealing with medical situations. Biomedical engineers create both prostheses and medical treatment devices. They may also modify equipment for better procedural performance, or tailor existing equipment to a patient's special needs. This work may involve design and creation of special equipment to individual requirements in complex cases. 

For severely handicapped people, an entire personalized suite of devices may be required. This might involve specific interfaces with devices like talking computers, special wheelchairs, beds or other treatment and management related devices. Specialized services may also involve advanced practice in:

  • Chemistry
  • Electronics
  • Medical imaging
  • Orthopedic engineering

Research and development

Like many forms of engineering, innovation is a natural part of the work environment. Equipment and materials may need to be invented, designed, and developed to carry out medical functions and procedures. Biomedical engineering is often in the forefront of technological research and design. This is a very large area of research in the health industry, which is also directly linked to both medical and engineering technologies.

In many cases both forms of research complement each other. To give some idea of the scope and applications of biomedical research, the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, originally designed for medical testing and research by biomedical engineers, is now used by the mining industry for aerial surveys of ore deposits.

The dual nature of a biomedical engineer's skills is often a catalyst for innovations. Biomedical engineering, in the course of research, produces whole new generations of medical equipment on a regular basis. This extensive range of hardware includes:

  • Surgical equipment
  • Testing equipment
  • Therapeutic devices
  • Imaging systems
  • Medical database software and hardware
  • Optical testing devices
  • Optical prostheses
  • Dental equipment and production methodologies


Median wage is $80,000. Income is also affected by intellectual property rights. 


Usually standard hours, but often subject to contractual demands, emergencies, and research schedules. 

The career outlook

In the US, biomedical engineers are a relatively small part of the workforce. Anticipated growth in the profession is very high, expected to be 21%, or twice the national average, in the coming decade. In biomedical engineering, the range of career advancement options is huge. New science is a primary driver behind biomedical research, and it's also a big area for investment by health care industry corporations. Particularly notable is the big increase in genetic science, which is causing a demand for new systems for both research and commercial purposes. 

The intellectual property is extremely valuable, and the research positions are significant career targets for biomedical engineers. In many cases biomedical engineers may also be stakeholders in this intellectual property, depending on contractual arrangements and ownership of intellectual property rights.