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Career summary

Bioengineers apply engineering methods to solve problems in biology and medicine.

Bioengineers conduct research in many fields:

Bioengineers often work in product testing and safety to establish safety standards for medical devices.

Many bioengineers solve problems in medicine and health care. They develop products such as digital hearing aids, artificial heart valves, and pacemakers. They also design artificial joints, tissues, and organs.

Bioengineers use computers to model organs and internal systems. This allows them to see how the body would function with, or react to, a biomedical device. They use computers to perform research on new materials, devices, and procedures. Some bioengineers create computer simulations that allow doctors and medical students to practice specific surgical procedures. Others use computers to create robots that assist surgeons.

Some bioengineers design computer systems to monitor people in unusual environments. For example, some systems monitor astronauts in space. Other systems monitor underwater divers at great depths.

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

Bioengineers work with other scientists, doctors, and engineers. They interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.

Related careers

This career is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

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 to consider


To work as a bioengineer, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most students earn a bachelor's degree in engineering with a specialization in bioengineering. As an undergraduate student in engineering you take courses in math, physics, chemistry, and biology. You also take courses in computer science and communications.

Some colleges offer undergraduate degrees in bioengineering. College degrees in bioengineering often emphasize particular aspects of the biomedical industries, such as prosthetic devices or medical instrumentation. Other programs emphasize bioengineering as a pre-med major. As an undergraduate student in bioengineering, you take courses in chemical, electrical, or mechanical engineering.

Many students earn their undergraduate degrees in a different engineering specialty and then move into bioengineering for a master's degree or doctorate. Many entry-level jobs in bioengineering require a graduate degree. Most graduate-level programs look for students who have a background in engineering or science. Typically, a graduate program will seek students with some mix of coursework in calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology. Students who want to advance into research, especially at a university, need a doctoral degree.

Work experience

You should consider participating in an internship with a bioengineering 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 work on more difficult tasks as you gain knowledge and experience. This phase of training typically lasts one year.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

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 (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know


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:

Licensing fees for engineers are $350 for the registration examination from the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, and $65 for the initial state exam application. The renewal fee is $116 every two years. Not all engineers 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


Other resources

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 Oil Chemists Society (external link)
PO Box 17190
Urbana, IL 61803-7190
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (external link)
2950 Niles Road
St. Joseph, MI 49085
Bioinformatics Organization (external link)
Bio-Link (external link)
Biophysical Society (external link)
5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110
Rockville, MD 20852
Careers in Biotechnology (external link)
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (external link)
4420 West Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50014
Discover Engineering (external link)
eGFI - Dream Up the Future (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Engineering Your Future (external link)
Genetics Education Center (University of Kansas Medical Center) (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
National Academy of Engineering (external link)
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
National Academy of Sciences Interviews (external link)
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (external link)
Parenteral Drug Association (external link)
Bethesda Towers
4350 East West Highway, Suite 600
Bethesda, MD 20814
Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (external link)
3929 Old Lee Highway, Suite 92A
Fairfax, VA 22030-2421
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


Career cluster

Career path

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster