Clinical engineers design, develop and maintain equipment used for diagnosing and treating patients.
Relevant to

What does a clinical engineer do?

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • testing equipment, like walking aids, wheelchairs and speech synthesizers (known as assistive technologies)
  • developing artificial limbs that attach to the patient's own tissue
  • making artificial joints, heart valves, and hearing implants from new materials
  • designing equipment that allows doctors to try new medical techniques, like optical instruments for keyhole surgery
  • management of medical equipment, like scanners, imaging machines, and monitoring systems
  • carrying out quality assurance checks to ensure all equipment is working correctly and safely
  • working closely with other medical professionals and technical staff

What do I need to do to become a clinical engineer?

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • go on a specialist training programme run by the NHS

University

You can do a degree to start training as a clinical engineer. Relevant subjects include:

  • electrical or electronic engineering
  • mechanical engineering
  • biomedical science/engineering
  • pure or applied physics
  • applied maths

Your degree should be accredited by the Engineering Council.

After your degree, you can apply for the postgraduate NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). During the three-year programme, you'll be employed and study a postgraduate master's degree at university.

Competition for places on the STP is high, so it helps if you have relevant experience. Try and do some voluntary work in a hospital and get experience of patient contact.

You could also find employment in the private sector and work your way up to chartered engineer status.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including two sciences
  • two or three A levels, including maths and physics

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through a healthcare science practitioner degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship.

Other routes

If you do not have a degree, you could apply for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme.

During the three-year programme, you'll be employed and study a degree in healthcare science at university.

To apply, you'll need five GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English language, maths, and a science subject, and at least two A levels, including maths or a science.

Registration

You'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council.


Related skills

  • Communication
  • Financial planning
  • IT
  • Numeracy
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Technical ability
  • Time management

Related subjects

  • Maths
  • Physics

Where to find out more


Where could I be working?

You could work in an NHS or private hospital, in a laboratory, at a research facility, or in a workshop.


Career opportunities

With experience and further training, you could become a consultant, specialising in particular clinical areas, or move into management, teaching, or medical research.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0


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