Biomedical engineer: job description

Biomedical engineer: job description

Biomedical engineers are specialists who help to develop advanced healthcare technology.
Biomedical engineers need the creative and technical ability to turn designs into products.

What does a biomedical engineer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Biomedical engineers work with a wide range of medical, technical and administrative staff and, at times, patients. Responsibilities of the job include:

  • designing, testing and implementing new medical procedures, such as computer-aided surgery and tissue engineering
  • designing, developing, testing and modifying products, equipment and devices
  • liaising with medical, engineering and scientific staff
  • training staff to use equipment safely
  • maintaining equipment
  • writing reports and documentation
  • undertaking relevant research

You can find out more about engineering jobs in research and development by reading our research and development industry sector overview, written by an industry expert.

Typical employers of biomedical engineers

  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Research organisations
  • Diagnostic/medical instrumentation manufacturers
  • Charities, such as Designability: The Bath Institute of Medical Engineering

Qualifications and training required

To become a biomedical engineer, a good degree in a relevant subject such as biomedical engineering, biomedical science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or physics is required. Postgraduate qualifications can be beneficial (particularly for non-engineering graduates), and may be necessary for some posts. A list of accredited courses is available on the Engineering Council’s website and you can read our article on engineering postgraduate options to explore your options.

Prior relevant experience can be helpful; some employers offer final-year project work, degree sponsorship, internships and industrial placements, which can provide a useful insight into the profession. Take a look at our list of engineering employers who offer industrial placements and summer internships.

Research work, voluntary work (for charities such as Remap, hospital placements and laboratory experience can also be useful.

Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM). You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, take a look at our guide to chartership.

To work within the NHS, you will need to complete the scientist training programme (STP) after your degree. The application process for the STP typically starts in January. Scotland has separate training schemes, which also involve a three year STP or an equivalent programme.

After completing the STP, you can then apply for a certificate of attainment from the Academy of Healthcare Science. This is will enable you to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

In order to practice as a clinical scientist in the UK, you must be registered with the HCPC. You will automatically be eligible to apply for registration if you have completed a HCPC approved course, but you will need to pay a fee for the HCPC to process your application, plus a registration fee, which is reduced by 50% if you graduated from an approved course within the last two years.

Key skills for biomedical engineers

  • Careful measurement and analytical skills
  • Good attention to detail
  • A good eye for design
  • The creative and technical ability to turn designs into products
  • The ability to empathise with patients

  • Communication and teamworking skills

Read our article on the skills engineering employers look for for more information and then find out how you can prove you possess these competencies at engineering assessment centres.

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