How To Become a Medical Engineer (With Job Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 14, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A medical engineer specializes in developing new innovations in the medical industry, such as creating new pieces of medical equipment and researching new medications. This can be an ideal career path for professionals who have a background in engineering and an interest in science and health care. If you work as an engineer and want to specialize in medical engineering, it might be helpful to learn about what you can do to enter the industry.

In this article, we consider what working as one of these engineers can be like, including their job duties and salary, and explore a list of steps for how to become a medical engineer.

Related: What Is Biomedical Engineering?

What is a medical engineer?

A medical engineer uses engineering and scientific knowledge to find ways to improve the health care industry. They most often do this by developing new technologies and equipment that medical providers can use, such as medical devices, prosthetic limbs and medical software for computer systems. Medical engineers also sometimes operate under the job title biomedical engineer.

Read more: What Is a Medical Engineer?

What does a medical engineer do?

Here are some of the most common job duties for a medical engineer to have:

  • Developing new equipment and tools for the health care industry, including diagnostic machines and prosthetic limbs

  • Testing new pieces of medical equipment to ensure their safety and functionality

  • Educating staff members about how to use new equipment and tools

  • Creating new software to improve medical equipment and computer systems in the health care industry

  • Inspecting and testing existing biomedical equipment to ensure it functions effectively

  • Installing new equipment in medical facilities

  • Identifying areas for improvement in the medical field and finding creative solutions

  • Conducting research on innovations in the medical field that relate to engineering

  • Publishing reports and papers to share their findings with the public

How to become a medical engineer

Here are some steps you can use to start your career as a medical engineer:

1. Take science courses in high school

If you already know you want to become a medical engineer at a young age, you can start preparing in high school. This can help increase your chances of getting hired in the future by building a strong foundation of key knowledge that the position requires. For example, taking advanced science and mathematics courses can prepare you for work in the health care industry and as an engineer. Some courses that can be beneficial to take in high school include advanced biology, physics and chemistry.

2. Earn a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering

One of the key steps in preparing to become a medical engineer is to earn a bachelor's degree. This is because most employers for this position list a bachelor's degree as the minimum education requirement. Because working as a medical engineer can involve highly specialized and technical job duties, most candidates pursue bachelor's degrees in biomedical engineering to learn about high-level concepts in medical science and engineering. Some medical engineers enter the field with a degree in general or mechanical engineering, but majoring in biomedical engineering can ensure that you receive the specialized education you need to succeed.

3. Consider a master's degree

A master's degree is often voluntary for a medical engineer. However, having an advanced degree can help you qualify for higher-level positions that pay more competitive salaries. The most common advanced degree for these professionals is a master's degree in biomedical engineering, as this can help candidates prepare for supervisory positions and advanced research jobs. A master's in biomedical engineering usually takes between one and two years to complete.

Related: FAQ: What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Engineering?

4. Complete a medical engineering internship

While completing a master's degree, or directly after graduating with a bachelor's degree, it can be beneficial to secure a medical engineering internship. This is because an internship can offer opportunities to engage in hands-on experience in the field and to learn from established professionals. Many aspiring medical engineers pursue internships with large bioengineering firms, as these organizations typically offer internships in various areas. You can search for medical engineering internships in your area using a search engine or by reaching out to companies that you already know.

5. Get licensed

While some employers might hire candidates for this position without a license, having one can increase your chances of securing a competitive job. This is because having a professional license can show employers that you're specially qualified and have put in extra work to gain an official credential. For medical engineers, one of the most common credentials to pursue is the Professional Licensed Engineer (PE) license from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). To earn this credential, you typically have to submit an application, pay a fee and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

6. Apply for jobs as a medical engineer

Once you have a license, you can start applying for jobs as a medical engineer. One of the most common places for a medical engineer to work is at a medical or bioengineering institution, and these organizations often advertise open positions online. You can also look for medical engineering jobs at manufacturing facilities and research firms, as many of these professionals work on the development of new medical products and equipment. Many medical engineers find jobs at universities as well, where they can conduct independent research and educate students about medical engineering.

Related: Career Outlook and Jobs for Biomedical Engineers

Salary and job outlook for a medical engineer

While Indeed doesn't offer salary data for a medical engineer, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary data for bioengineers and biomedical engineers, which includes medical engineers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary for these professionals is currently $92,620 per year. The BLS also notes that these professionals can sometimes earn more money depending on their industry. For example, the BLS shows that biomedical engineers who work with supplies manufacturing and medical equipment can earn an average of $94,960 per year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides job outlook data for bioengineers and biomedical engineers. According to the BLS, the number of people employed in these positions is expected to increase by 6% from 2020 to 2030. The BLS states that this growth might result from an increase in the number of new technologies that require specialty engineers to develop and test. They also indicate that more job openings may appear as current professionals retire or change career paths.

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