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What is a Biomedical engineer? The School Leaver Guide

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What is a Biomedical engineer?

Biomedical Engineers design and develop equipment for patients with special needs. They are usually employed by health centres, clinics hospitals, electrical manufacturers and university research departments.

What does a Biomedical engineer do?

A Biomedical Engineer needs to be a confident communicator as they need to liaise with clients, technicians and manufacturers. A typical day for a Biomedical Engineer will involve:

  • Training clinical staff

  • Testing and maintaining the medical equipment

  • Keeping up to date with new developments in the field

  • Responding to technical queries from hospitals and health centres

  • Offering advice on new equipment

  • Attending conferences and exhibitions

  • Presenting research findings to audiences

  • Arranging clinical trials of medical products

  • Approaching companies to sell medical products

  • Working closely with medical professionals and clients

  • Conducting interviews

  • Liaising with technicians and manufacturers

Skills & interests required for a Biomedical engineer

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Excellent technical knowledge

  • Ability to work in a team

  • Ability to budget

  • Presentational skills for introducing new equipment to hospitals or clients

  • Capacity to take on responsibility

  • Interest in medicine and engineering

  • Attention to detail

  • Commercial awareness (you will be expected to present the medical equipment to companies)

  • Spatial awareness

  • Strong problem solving abilities

  • Ability to work well under pressure

Working hours

Biomedical Engineers tend to work between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Safety and maintenance work on hospital equipment are performed out of hours.

Work base

Clinic, laboratory or an engineering workshop

Travel

Travel is expected to conferences and meetings. You will also need to travel to hospitals and health centres in order to access, maintain and carry out checks on the medical equipment.

Salary ranges & earning potential

A medical engineer technician earns between £21,909 to £28,462.

Biomedical Engineers working in the private sector can range from £21,000 to £45,000 per annum.

Education requirements

An applicant is expected to have achieved a minimum 2:1 in a science or engineering subject. If they want to work in the NHS, they must apply for further training under the Scientist Training Programme, a graduate entry program that will give the applicant three years on-the-job experience.

If you are not looking to apply to the training scheme, then working in a private sector job and working your way up to an engineer is possible.

Alternatively, applicants without a degree can apply for the Practitioner Training Programme, this is a three year healthcare degree complete with NHS work placements.

However, entry with a Higher National Diploma is not possible. It is possible to work as a trainee biomedical technologist with A-Levels in Life Sciences, but further education is required to become a Biomedical Engineer.

Useful subjects to study at school

  • Biomedical Science

  • Engineering

  • Physics

  • Mechanical Engineering

Useful resources

Biomedical Engineers, part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Institution of Engineering and Technology

Photo by Reeta Asmai/UC Davis, cropped.

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