What does a clinical engineer do?
As an engineer working in this field, the work would involve:
- testing equipment, such as walking aids, wheelchairs and speech synthesizers (known as assistive technologies)
- 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
This role would involve working closely with other medical professionals, technical staff and patients.
What do I need to do to become a clinical engineer?
To work as a clinical engineer, you would need a degree with a pass at 2:1 or higher. The degree should be accredited by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) or the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Relevant subjects include:
- electrical engineering
- electronic engineering
- mechanical engineering
- biomedical science/engineering
To do a science-based degree course, you will usually need:
- five GCSEs (A-C), including English language, maths and at least two sciences
- three A levels, including maths and physics
Check exact entry requirements with course providers as other qualifications may be accepted.
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 clinical engineer in the NHS, by taking a specialist training course called the Scientist Training Programme (STP)
If you don’t have a degree-level qualification, you can enter clinical engineering in the NHS at practitioner level. You would do this by applying for the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP). This consists of an undergraduate degree course such as a BSc in Healthcare Science (Clinical Engineering), which will include some work-based training. To get onto the PTP you will usually need:
- five GCSEs (A-C) including English language, maths and a science subject
- at least two A levels including maths or a science
- Five GCSEs (A-C), including English language, maths
- Three A levels, including maths and physics
- A degree with a pass at 2:1 or higher accredited by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) or the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
Where to find out more
Where could I be working?
If you work in a hospital, your time would be split between a clinic and an engineering workshop. You will need to travel locally, usually to manage and maintain medical equipment in hospitals or health centres. You may also have to travel for conferences and meetings.
In research or industry, you would usually be based in a laboratory. You will also need to travel to introduce new equipment to hospitals.