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Biomedical Engineers

At a Glance

  • Design medical equipment, including artificial organs
  • Are knowledgeable about design and biology
  • Use computers on a daily basis
  • Often work as part of a team
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • May need a license

Career summary

Biomedical engineers design new tools and devices to improve health care.

By combining their knowledge of engineering, biology, and medical science, biomedical engineers build tools to help doctors detect and treat illness and disease.

Biomedical engineers design products such as:

Biomedical engineers use computers to simulate how organs and internal systems work together. This allows them to see how the body will function with, or react to, a medical device or treatment. They test new equipment to see what might go wrong and how to prevent problems. They estimate costs and materials required to produce each product. Biomedical engineers do research, write reports, and keep detailed records.

Some biomedical engineers specialize in one area such as:

They often work as part of a team, with other scientists, doctors, and engineers.

Biomedical engineers do similar work as bioengineers. The field of bioengineering is more diverse and includes work in areas outside of medicine such as genetics or food modification.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to biomedical engineers.

Common work activities

Biomedical engineers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, biomedical engineers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Biomedical engineers frequently:

It is important for biomedical engineers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for biomedical engineers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Biomedical engineers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a biomedical engineer, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most students prepare for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering. Over 100, four-year colleges and universities offer this program of study. You may need between four and five years to complete this program.

Some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree (PhD). For instance, if you are interested in teaching biomedical engineering you need a PhD. Also, many biomedical engineers go to graduate school to specialize in one area of this field.

Work experience

You should consider participating in an internship with a biomedical engineering firm while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. An internship also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

On-the-job training

New graduates work under the guidance of experienced engineers. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. You receive greater independence and more difficult tasks as you gain knowledge and experience. This phase of training typically lasts around six months up to a year.

Military training

The military hires biomedical engineers as environmental health and safety officers. However, the military does not provide training.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements. Biomedical engineers need a strong background in math and science. If possible, take science courses through Physics and math courses through Calculus.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

For entry-level jobs, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering. Because this field is so specialized, it is common for employers to require a master's degree or higher. Graduate degrees are essential for teaching or administration.

Employers prefer to hire biomedical engineers who are creative and curious. They also look for people who are detail-oriented and analytical. Oral and written communication skills are also important. Employers look for people who can work on a team.

Costs to workers

Some workers join a professional association, which may have annual dues.


Engineers employed in responsible positions in government or in firms offering services to the public, or who stamp their work as being done by an engineer, must be licensed by the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Getting a license as an engineer-in-training requires:

Professional engineer licensing requirements include:

Engineers who want to be licensed must pay an exam fee to the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and a $65 fee for the initial state exam application. After licensing, a renewal fee of $116 is due every two years. Not all engineers in Washington must be licensed.

For information on testing, contact:

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (external link)
PO Box 1686
Clemson, SC 29633-1686

For licensing information, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and
Land Surveyors Licensing Program (external link)

PO Box 9025
Olympia, WA 98507-9025

#Ok, 1/23/20

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Biomedical engineers (SOC 17-2031)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $26.83 $32.97 $40.64 $52.68 $77.74
Monthly $4,650 $5,714 $7,043 $9,129 $13,472
Yearly $55,800 $68,570 $84,530 $109,580 $161,700
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $26.68 $32.94 $40.34 $51.91 $76.24
Monthly $4,624 $5,709 $6,991 $8,996 $13,212
Yearly $55,490 $68,524 $83,903 $107,970 $158,596
    Vancouver Hourly $33.10 $36.13 $42.32 $51.75 $70.05
Monthly $5,736 $6,261 $7,334 $8,968 $12,140
Yearly $68,832 $75,145 $88,027 $107,636 $145,698
United States Hourly $24.95 $32.61 $42.57 $55.25 $69.40
Monthly $4,324 $5,651 $7,377 $9,575 $12,027
Yearly $51,890 $67,830 $88,550 $114,930 $144,350

Pay varies by the amount of education biomedical engineers hold. Those with doctoral (PhD) degrees earn more than those with a master's or bachelor's degree.

Most full-time biomedical engineers receive benefits. Benefits usually include health insurance, paid vacation, and a retirement plan. Some companies pay for additional training.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Biomedical Engineers (SOC 17-2031)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 478 13.0% 16.1% 46
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 26 11.5% 15.2% 2
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 19 5.3% 14.6% 1
    King County 447 13.4% 19.6% 43
    Pierce County 14 14.3% 15.2% 1
    Snohomish County 46 13.0% 12.4% 4
United States 19,800 3.5% 5.2% 1,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Advances in technology will create new areas of research for biomedical engineers. This will lead strong growth in demand for this occupation. However, this is a very small occupation and few jobs will be created.

The demand for improved medical equipment will contribute to growth in this occupation. The aging population is creating need for new medical devices such as knee replacements. Companies will continue to look for ways to improve treatments and medical devices.

Other resources

American Association of Anatomists (external link)
6120 Executive Boulevard, Suite 725
Rockville, MD 20852
American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) (external link)
(This website provides a list of engineering-related programs accredited by ABET)
415 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering (external link)
1400 I Street NW
Suite 235
Washington, DC 20006
American Medical Informatics Association (external link)
Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (external link)
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22203
Biomedical Engineering Society (external link)
8201 Corporate Drive, Suite 1125
Landover, MD 20785
Biophysical Society (external link)
5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110
Rockville, MD 20852
Careers in Biotechnology (external link)
Discover Engineering (external link)
eGFI - Dream Up the Future (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Engineering Your Future (external link)
Institute of Biological Engineering (external link)
446 East High Street, Suite 10
Lexington, KY 40507
Life Science Washington (external link)
188 East Blaine Street
Suite 150
Seattle, WA 98102
MCMA: Motion Control and Motor Association (external link)
900 Victors Way, Suite 140
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (external link)
Society for Neuroscience (external link)
1121 14th Street NW, Suite 1010
Washington, DC 20005
Society of Women Engineers (external link)
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60601
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
The American Physiological Society (external link)
9650 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814
Washington State Biomedical Association (external link)
Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster