How To Become a Medical Software Engineer (With Skills and Tips)
Updated June 3, 2022
Working as a medical software engineer allows you to apply your software development skills to a medical setting to help improve the care patients receive. Medical software engineers provide important software that allows a medical facility to operate at its best. If you're interested in pursuing this role, it's beneficial to understand the expectations when entering the field. In this article, we discuss what a medical software engineer is, what they do, key expectations for the position and how to become one.
What is a medical software engineer?
A medical software engineer is a technology professional who works to develop medical software. They may develop mass-production software for multiple medical facilities or create custom-made programs for an individual facility or network. The software a medical software engineer works on can help a hospital be more organized and efficient in providing medical staff with a foundation for providing the best possible care to patients.
What does a medical software engineer do?
A medical software engineer has a range of responsibilities during the design and construction of a piece of software technology. Their duties may include:
Assessing operations within a medical facility to identify common tasks and how staff currently complete them
Holding discussions with staff members about their needs during a workday, including areas that currently work well and areas for improvement
Defining the needs for a proposed piece of software to maximize the value it provides to medical staff
Designing flow charts to layout the functional operation of a piece of medical software
Assessing plans for software development to ensure the desired goals are realistic and achievable
Creating and executing a work structure for the design and coding of a piece of software or a package of software programs
Testing software, both during production and at its conclusion, to ensure that it functions correctly and to identify any potential bugs
Implementing new software within an organization, including developing training materials and answering questions for staff
Adjusting existing software as needed to account for unexpected needs or changes in the demands of the medical staff
How to become a medical software engineer
If you're interested in a career as a medical software engineer, you can follow these steps to prepare yourself:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
Most employers require an applicant for a medical software engineer position to possess at least a bachelor's degree in a related field. The most common option for an aspiring medical software engineer is a computer science degree. A computer science program provides you with concentrated education in software development to help you build the skills and technical knowledge you require to succeed as a medical software engineer.
2. Practice software development
One benefit of pursuing a career in software development is the ability to practice your skills independently. Supplementing your formal education with additional practice, such as completing project prompts or building your own software based on specifications you create, helps you develop your coding skills. Besides making you a more diverse coder, this can also help you build your portfolio when applying for positions.
3. Enroll in an internship
An internship is an excellent opportunity to gain professional experience and begin growing your professional network. An internship provides you the opportunity to work and learn from experienced software developers. Your internship provider may offer you a job upon graduation or serve as a reference when seeking your first position. This not only helps you find work as a software engineer but also prepares you for success in the field.
Related: 10 Benefits of Doing an Internship
4. Write your resume
Your resume is the first opportunity to make a positive impression on a potential employer, making it an important part of finding a medical software engineer position. For competitive positions, an employer may decide on which employees to interview based entirely on the quality of their resume. This makes it important to have a professional resume that highlights your best qualifications for working in the medical software field.
5. Adjust your resume to meet job listings
When applying for an open position, it can be beneficial to update your resume for each job. By focusing on the responsibilities and skills mentioned in the job listing, you can adjust your resume to fit with the elements your employer has identified as important. Before applying to a position, make a copy of your resume, then read the listing carefully. Adjust your text to highlight any areas where you align with the job duties and skills mentioned in the listing.
6. Apply to entry-level coding positions
It's common for a company to seek coding experience when searching for a medical software engineer. By applying to entry-level coding positions, you can gain experience in software development that you might apply as a medical software engineer. This makes coding an excellent first opportunity for a college graduate, which you can use after gaining experience to apply for open medical software engineering positions, either through internal promotion or seeking work with a new employer.
Medical software engineer job outlook and salary
A medical software engineer typically works full time during regular business hours. Salary levels may vary based on factors which include experience, job location and employer. The average salary for a software engineer is $101,197 per year according to Indeed's research. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong growth for the field, with estimations of 22% growth from 2019-2029, which is significantly higher than the national average.
Medical software engineer skills
When working toward a career as a medical software engineer, it's important to develop key skills , including:
Analysis skills allow you to examine information and make logical extrapolations and conclusions. As a medical software engineer, analytical abilities allow you to more accurately determine the needs of a medical facility by assessing information related to staff requests, future planning and performance metrics. Effective analysis provides you with a stronger foundation when developing software solutions for a facility.
Communication is your ability to convey information to others, both in text and verbally. It's an essential skill to develop as a medical software engineer. During software development, effective communication ensures you understand what the hospital requires and that those working on the project understand your expectations. When implementing new software, communication allows you to teach hospital staff how to use it effectively.
Computer programming skills encompass the ability to generate new pieces of software from code. This may include familiarity with a range of programming languages. Having the ability to create and edit code is a fundamental skill when developing new pieces of software for medical facilities, as it allows you to develop and correct new modules for your software.
Leadership is your ability to provide guidance for others and maximize their contributions to a project. As a medical software engineer, you may oversee a team of developers working on your software plans. Leadership abilities help you assign work effectively and motivate staff to perform their best to produce stronger results on the project.
Problem-solving is the act of identifying an issue and creating a solution for it. You may solve problems through creative thinking or by applying your knowledge to administer a known solution. As a medical software engineer, problem-solving skills can help when planning software to solve problems for a hospital. It's also useful for diagnosing issues with code to make the software function properly after discovering errors.
Research skills allow you to understand media such as books, videos and websites, to gather useful information for a project. As a medical software engineer, research plays an important role in the development process. You may research software techniques to find a solution for a goal of your software. You may also use research to gather more information on the processes you're developing software products for to make your software more effective.
Time management allows you to use your working hours effectively and remain on schedule. As a medical software engineer, projects often have deadlines for when the medical facilities expect to receive certain levels of progress and the final delivery of a product. Time management is an important ability for planning your work effectively to meet all deadlines.
Tips for becoming a medical software engineer
When pursuing a career as a medical software engineer, keep these tips in mind:
Study existing software
An excellent way to learn about medical software development is to examine existing programs. Pay attention to the different functions required by facilities using the software and how the software accomplishes them. Examining the source code for existing software can help you identify the specific methods used by developers to create the medical software, which is a valuable tool.
Broaden your skills
When developing new pieces of software, it's beneficial to have a broad understanding of the field. Working on projects that require you to develop new coding abilities or languages can help to diversify your programming capabilities. This can make you a more appealing candidate and also a more effective employee.
Build a portfolio
Demonstrating your capabilities as a software engineer to a prospective employer is an excellent way to show your value when applying for a medical software engineering position. Creating a portfolio that lists all the software projects you've worked on allows you to share examples of your abilities easily. Besides providing summaries of the project and your contributions to it, including links to the code you developed, if you have clearance to share it, shows your skills.
Earning a certification can help to separate you from other candidates with similar resumes when applying for a position. Earning a certification, such as a Certified Professional for Medical Software (CPMS) from the International Software Quality Institute, requires you to pass an examination that shows your knowledge and skills in medical software development. This demonstrates value to a potential employer and they may look at your application more favorably.
Please note that none of the companies or certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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