How to Become a Biomedical Engineer: Steps to Take from High School
It’s not uncommon for high school students to feel a little lost after graduation. While some grads feel uncertain about which majors to pursue, others fear that they’ve made the wrong choice in picking a concentration too early. At CollegeVine, we want to ensure that high schoolers feel good about their academic decisions. While you don’t have to select a major now, by exploring a range of career options you can gain a better understanding of your likes and dislikes. The end result is a faster, smoother journey to your future goals.
Do you love your science classes? Have you spent the last few years as a member of the physics club? If you think you want to go into a career in the sciences, biomedical engineering might be right for you. Find out how to become a biomedical engineer, starting now.
What Does a Biomedical Engineer Do?
Creative students with a passion for healthcare and a quantitative aptitude might enjoy a career as a biomedical engineer. Straddling the fields of medicine and technology, biomedical engineers design and build equipment, software, and devices for use in the healthcare industry. Along with creating medical devices and tools, individuals in this profession work on cutting-edge projects, from designing artificial organs and replacement body parts to creating new treatments for diseases. They also provide support, maintenance equipment, and train staff in the proper operation of tools.
Many biomedical engineers conduct research around emerging medical technologies and developments. In addition to writing and publishing reports and papers, professionals in this field may present their findings to the public and make recommendations based on their work.
Biomedical engineers work in a range of environments, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and research laboratories. While salary depends on an individual’s specialization and experience, the average biomedical engineer earns $88,550 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How to Become a Biomedical Engineer
As a biomedical engineer, you will have the opportunity to use your knowledge of science and math to make a dramatic difference in the lives of people dealing with all sorts of illnesses and injuries. Keep reading to discover the steps you should take in high school, college, and beyond, if you hope to have a future in this field.
What to Do in High School
As a high schooler, you should know that you don’t have to map out your entire future before graduation. However, if you think you may want to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer, there are steps you can take now to give yourself a head start on the journey. Engineering programs can be highly competitive, and academic achievement has a significant impact on your odds of being admitted directly into these majors. While you probably already know that you should take plenty of math and science courses, including biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus, you might not realize that computer programming classes can also be beneficial. But that doesn’t mean that you should skimp on the humanities! Aspiring biomedical engineers will also need to develop strong communication skills, as the field will require them to interact with a wide range of people on a regular basis and to communicate complex ideas with ease.
Additionally, high school students considering a career in this industry should participate in extracurriculars like science, math and robotics teams or coding clubs. You could also attend a STEM-related summer program. Along with looking good on college applications, summer programs provide students with valuable insight into their prospective industry. You might even decide that biomedical engineering is not for you after all and that you’d be happier pursuing a different major.
What to Do in College
Most jobs in this industry require students to hold a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited institution. Fortunately, a number of schools now offer a biomedical engineering program. Along with courses in bioengineering, students can expect to study statistics, calculus, physiology, and organic chemistry. You may opt to specialize in biomechanics, bioinstrumentation, cell tissue, medical optics, or another field.
Depending on their future employment plans, bioengineering students may opt to continue their education by earning a master’s degree in the field. In general, admissions departments require applicants to hold a B.S. degree from an accredited college or university in one of the following fields: bioengineering, computer science, life sciences, electrical engineering, or physics. Earning a master’s takes one to two years and qualifies students to secure various research and supervisory jobs.
Aspiring engineers can increase their odds of succeeding in this field by pursuing educational opportunities outside the classroom. Consider approaching a favorite professor about research or TA opportunities at your school. You could also apply to a local biomedical engineering company to see if any internship opportunities are available.
Exams and Licenses
Not all employers insist on hiring licensed biomedical engineers. However, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can help graduates secure higher-paying positions as consultants or managers. Most states also require biomedical engineers who work for the government to hold a license. Individuals who hope to advance in the field should also consider taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam after they’ve worked in the industry for a minimum of four years. The test takes an average of four hours to complete and includes both a morning and an afternoon session.
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