Biomedical engineering is often considered a dream job, since it pays well and is in high demand even in times of economic uncertainty. The degree is challenging and requires the basics of engineering--but with specialization in biological and physiological systems. As a biomedical engineer, you work in an industry that supports the development of medical devices that improve patient healthcare. Devices like hearing aids, orthopedic implants and CT scanners require the work of a bioengineer. The highly technical nature of this career makes it challenging, but those who are willing to face those challenges are rewarded with high salaries and a positive job outlook.
Biomedical engineering is an exciting career that is in high demand. The field has seen tremendous growth in the past two decades, as technology has revolutionized the field of medicine. Since the field deals directly with human care, the US Food and Drug Administration has put many regulations in place to ensure safety, making specialized knowledge and continued training a necessity. Typical salaries in the field can range from $49,000 to $134,000 depending on the position and experience level. The job outlook is well above average with annual growth at 62 percent, much higher than other fields.
Entry Level Jobs
Entry level jobs in biomedical engineering pay high salaries compared to other fields. An entry level design engineer, for example, might expect to make $49,000 to $60,000 depending on the company, industry and region. To land an entry level job, you must have an engineering degree from an accredited university. Employers generally prefer those with a degrees in biomedical engineering, rather than other disciplines, such as mechanical engineering.
An experienced engineer in biomedical engineering can expect to earn between $65,000 to $90,000 annually. A senior engineer has greater responsibility and leads major aspects of a project. In general, between five and seven years in the field is often required prior to landing a senior engineering role. Experienced engineers usually follow either a technical or a management path. For those uninterested in management, many companies will offer continuing education or technical advancement in the company.
If you're cut out for leading groups and can handle the added stress, then management might be the right path for you. A manager generally needs five to seven years of experience or more. Mid-level managers can often start out with just five years of experience, while higher level directors or executives might need ten or more years in the field. A mid-level manager can expect to earn $65,000 to $90,000 per year while directors earn upwards of $120,000 or more.
There are many positions available in the field of biomedical engineering. Some common roles include design engineers, software engineers and validation engineers. Design engineers lead the process of developing a medical device, and focus on everything from functionality to ergonomics. Software engineers are required when devices have electronic and computer components. Validation engineers are critical to biomedical engineering, as they test and prove the safety of the medical devices. Many of these jobs are in high demand and since they service the healthcare field, they often have less volatility with swings in the economy.
2016 Salary Information for Biomedical Engineers
Biomedical engineers earned a median annual salary of $85,620 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, biomedical engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $65,700, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $107,850, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 21,300 people were employed in the U.S. as biomedical engineers.
- US Food and Drug Administration: Quality System Regulations/Medical Device Good Manufacturing Practices
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
- USA Today: Outlook for Job Market is Grim
- Campus Explorer: Top 25 In Demand Jobs and Fastest Growing Occupations
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Biomedical Engineers
- Career Trend: Biomedical Engineers
Auston Matta is an experienced engineer who has worked in the packaging industry since 2003. He holds a bachelor's degree in bio-engineering and a master's degree in engineering management. Auston has also contributed to "Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News."