The world of health care relies heavily on the use of sophisticated equipment such as heart-lung machines, CT and MRI scanners, and anesthesia systems to keep patients alive or help diagnose their conditions. Those machines, in turn, must be installed, repaired, maintained and upgraded by biomedical equipment technicians. Working as a biomedical technician can be an excellent career choice if you like the idea of helping save lives, but aren't keen on direct patient contact. Training for the profession isn't especially long, and salaries are relatively high.
In its May 2012 figures, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported average yearly wages of $46,910 for biomedical technicians. The overall salary range was rather wide, with the lowest-earning 10 percent reporting incomes of $26,550 or less, while the top 20 percent earned $72,080 or more. Medical equipment wholesalers and distributors were the largest single employer, paying an average of $47,160 per year. The highest-paying employers were doctors' offices, which paid an average of $57,700 for the privilege of having a full-time technician on staff. Alaska, Hawaii and Utah were the highest-paying states, while Arkansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming paid the least.
A pair of 2012 surveys by industry organizations provide a more detailed breakdown of incomes, based on job title. Biomedical magazine "24X7" reported salaries salaries ranging from $36,711 to $60,195 for entry-level technicians in different regions across the country. Senior technicians ranged from $43,391 to $62,882 per year, and supervisors earned as little as $52,935 or as much as $74,892 depending on their location. A similar study by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation reported base salaries of over $50,000 for second-level technicians, and over $60,000 for supervisors. The AAMI survey found salaries highest in the West and lowest in the Southwest, The magazine survey used smaller regions, with the Pacific grouping reporting the highest pay and its "East South Central" group recording the lowest wages.
None of the three surveys provided detailed information on the financial benefit of professional certification. However, respondents in the AAMI survey reported that they received a variety of perks and bonuses after becoming certified. Several reported receiving gift cards, cash bonuses or faster promotion after earning their certification, and 37 percent of certified respondents received an outright increase in pay. The study didn't identify the variance for certified staff, though its bar graphs showed bonuses and benefits adding $2,000 to $5,000 in compensation for most job titles.
Training requirements for biomedical equipment technicians are pretty variable, depending what type of equipment you work with. For some positions, you can learn entirely on the job. For others you'll need a two-year associate degree in biomedical technology or the equivalent military training program. Some advanced positions require a full four-year bachelor's degree. Professional certification is available through the AAMI, including a base certification for biomedical equipment technicians and more advanced certifications for specialists in radiology equipment and laboratory equipment.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.