What does a biomedical engineer do?
Also known as clinical engineers, biomedical engineers design, develop and maintain the equipment used for diagnosing illness and treating patients. Your job could involve:
- testing equipment, such as walking aids, wheelchairs and speech synthesisers
- developing artificial limbs that attach to the patient's own tissue, giving them greater control
- making artificial joints, heart valves and hearing implants from new materials to lessen the chance of rejection by the patient’s body
- designing equipment that allows doctors to try new medical techniques, for example, optical instruments for keyhole surgery
- day-to-day management of medical equipment, such as scanners, imaging machines and monitoring systems
- carrying out quality assurance checks to ensure all equipment is working correctly and safely
You’ll usually work for a health service, biomedical manufacturer or research institute.
What do I need to do to become a biomedical engineer?
You’ll need to have a first degree in either physics, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering or mechanical engineering. The degree should be accredited by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) or the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
Once you have your degree, you can:
- apply for jobs in the private sector and work your way towards becoming a chartered engineer
- work as a biomedical engineer in the NHS, by taking a specialist training course called the Scientist Training Programme (STP)
To do an engineering-related degree, you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) including maths, English and science, plus three A levels. Maths and physics A level are preferred.
Alternatively, level 3 vocational courses in science or engineering may be acceptable for some degrees – check with universities.
Vocational routeLevel 3 vocational courses in science or engineering
- Degree in physics, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, or mechanical engineering, accredited by either IET or IMechE
- A level physics
- A level maths
- NHS science training programme