Biomedical engineer is the hot job for the next five years or so, but what type of degree does it take? More importantly, what the heck is a biomedical engineer?
“Biomedical engineering brings together a lot of sciences and engineering fields, such as mechanical and others to design biological medical equipment and tools for the health care industry,” said Tara McKillip, a student at UCSD. “It’s really like science fiction meets medicine.”
In other words, these brainiacs design prosthetic limbs and artificial organs or regenerate tissue. They create drug formulations, develop pharmaceuticals, or collect and analyze biological data. They design massive MRI machines along with the microscopic machines and pacemakers used in surgery.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is one of the highest-paid engineering jobs, and the outlook for job-growth is impressive at 61.7 percent. It’s expected to be the fastest-growing job market in the United States during the next seven years.
Analyzing U.S. bioscience industry growth over last 11 years, Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation 2014 report states positive trends. ‘Industry demonstrated strong record of growth from 2001–2012, has navigated deep economic recession better than most industries, and is once again growing. State-by-state industry assessment finds U.S. bioscience firms directly employ 1.62 million people, a figure that includes nearly 111,000 new, high-paying jobs created since 2001.’
“This is a career about giving back, helping someone walk or see again,” McKillip said. “That and the fact that I am going to make decent money and pay my student loans back makes it even better.”
The report goes on to state that, “The research, testing and medical laboratories subsector has been the primary engine of bioscience industry job growth — increasing employment by 28 percent since 2001 and by nearly 10 percent since 2007.
Through strong economic multiplier impacts, each bioscience job generates an additional 3.9 jobs in the U.S. economy (employment multiplier of 4.9).
The industry is well distributed across the United States and plays a major role as an economic driver. In the 2007 to 2012 period, which includes the recession and early years of the recovery, 28 states had overall job gains in the biosciences.
Biomedical engineers saw mean annual earnings of $79,610 in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those working in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing saw slightly higher salaries, at $81,950, while those working in scientific research and development earned $92,870. The top pay is about $134,000.
Master’s degrees help you climb the salary ladder, but those with bachelor’s degrees are also successful in obtaining a career in this field. People who want in on this career tend to be more research-oriented, compared with other engineering majors. So earning a Ph.D. wouldn’t hurt your earning potential.
“This really is the type of career that you should try and have as much education as you can,” said Mark Chambers, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Santa Cruz. “If you are going for one degree, you might even consider going for two. The jobs are out there but the competition is getting tougher every year.”
UCSD claims that they are “home to the number one bioengineering program in the nation.” Considering that in 2011, President Barack Obama today named bioengineering Professor Shu Chien one of the seven eminent researchers to receive the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists and engineers, it can back up its claim.
SDSU also offers graduate education in bioengineering at the master’s and doctoral level.
Other great perks is that you might be able to stay in San Diego for your biotech job since the area is considered one of the top biotech areas in the country. The United States still leads the world in biotech, so odds are you won’t have to move to India.
A job such as Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist at the Veterans Health Administration in San Diego, with a salary range of $62,969.00 to $81,855.00, is a typical posting found on jobsites such as Monster.com
“I hope to stay here in San Diego to make my life and career,” McKillip said. “It’s a win-win for me.”