If you're thinking about a career in health care, there are two rather different directions you can take. For example, doctors and nurses primarily deal with patients. Other professionals, including laboratory techs and medical equipment technicians, work mostly with machines and other technical professionals. If you'd like a job that combines both, you might consider becoming a home delivery technician for medical equipment. It's a career that requires strong technical skills, but puts you in regular contact with patients as well.
Sometimes patients with chronic illnesses or disabilities, and patients receiving palliative or hospice care, don't need to be kept at a hospital or nursing-care facility. They can live at home with varying degrees of comfort and independence, as long as they have some level of care. Often they require the use of medical equipment, ranging from sophisticated respirators to insulin pumps and conventional or motorized wheelchairs. As a medical delivery technician, you'd be responsible for providing those pieces of equipment to patients.
You can learn to maintain and install some types of equipment through on-the-job training, but usually delivery technicians have formal training in biomedical technology. A bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering qualifies you to work on the most sophisticated equipment, but an associate's degree in biomedical technology is often all you need for home delivery work. Whichever degree you opt for, each brand and type of equipment has its own service procedures. You'll need to learn your products' quirks on the job, so you can deliver, install and calibrate them correctly. If you want to become certified, a private company called RenTrain offers a professional credential for delivery technicians. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) also administers a certification for biomedical equipment technicians.
Delivering to hospitals is different from home delivery, because you're dealing with other professionals. Once you've delivered and set up the equipment, you're done. With home care, your work is more service-oriented. Some complex items such as oxygen systems and sleep apnea monitors require setup and calibration, and you'll have to teach the patients or their caregivers how to use the equipment and monitor its operation. Manufacturers will sometimes ask you for feedback on how they can make equipment easier for their patients to use, because of your first-hand experience.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups home delivery technicians with other biomedical technicians and repair persons for reporting purposes. The job picture is pretty rosy for the balance of the decade, with a projected 31 percent increase in employment between 2010 and 2020. It's difficult to know how much of that growth will come in home care, but the AAMI reports rapid growth in the home use of medical equipment. That's likely to result in high demand for delivery technicians.
2016 Salary Information for Medical Equipment Repairers
Medical equipment repairers earned a median annual salary of $48,070 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical equipment repairers earned a 25th percentile salary of $36,160, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $62,370, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 47,100 people were employed in the U.S. as medical equipment repairers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- Medical Equipment Repairers
- Spokane Community College: Biomedical Equipment Technician
- RenTrain: Delivery Technician Certification Program Testing
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Medical Equipment Repairers
- Career Trend: Medical Equipment Repairers
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.