3 answers

What are the career options for a biomedical engineering degree and do you need a phd to get a good job

Asked Porter, Texas

3 answers

Lillian’s Answer


There are many different options for a BME degree, and you do NOT need a PhD to get a "good" job. Here are some career options for BME majors:

Biochemical: this might involve pharmaceuticals, manufacturing drug delivery systems, vaccine development, or ensuring quality control.

Biomaterials: you'd help design and develop medical devices, manufacture them, and ensure quality control. Examples include creating or improving artificial skin devices, heart valves, or joint replacements.

Biomechanics: this might involve design, develop, and test medical devices, such as prosthetic limbs, surgical tools, cardiovascular implants, or optics.

Bioinformatics: this involves computer programming/statistics where you'd be organizing and analyzing lots of data. You might write a program that searches for certain patterns in someone's DNA for example.

There are also many other options that many BMEs go into, such as consulting or another engineering field such as mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, or electrical engineering since there can be so much overlap with these fields.

I work with engineering students, and the stereotype you may hear is that BME is too specific a field or, alternatively, too general a field, so people have to go to graduate school. This is not true. What IS true is that BME is not a clearly defined, structured path (although hardly anything is these days). It is very versatile and you can go into almost anything you want as long as you seek out the experience for it (by this, I mean take electives in what you want to specialize in, find internships in fields you want a job in, join organizations where you work on projects related to your interest area, network at your school's career fairs and information sessions, etc.).

Feel free to go to your school's career advisor to find out more, and don't be afraid to take advantage of BME's versatility!

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

The most important thing for you to do is determine which career options would be most suitable for you as an individual based upon your personality traits and then meet and talk to people who are doing what you think that you might want to do, so you can see what they do, how they got there, and what advice they might have for you.

Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##

G. Mark’s Answer


Based on the wording of your question, I'll first assume that you've already determined that a biomedical engineering degree is what you're suited for and plan on getting. Given that you've taken the customary aptitude and personality assessment surveys, I'll cut to the chase and tell you that a biomedical engineering degree will prepare you for quite a wide range of jobs. A degree in one particular branch of engineering does not preclude you from taking jobs in other branches of engineering, or, for that matter, many, many technical fields. I'll also assume that others have given you similar advice and told you to seek out and engage with folks already in these fields. That being said, I'll also say that you don't need a phd to get a good job. In many engineering jobs, a phd may get you a slight raise, but the ones that actually require a phd are few. In my particular first engineering job, the minimum requirement was a masters degree, and they sent me to school to complete it. But this is an exception. Most of the time -- again, from personal experience and what I've been told by others -- you'll be judged by your performance in solving problems and in communicating and engaging with others to facilitate getting those solutions implemented. Having said that, let me remind you that the person who decides if you have a "good job" is you. I cannot overstate the importance of doing something you enjoy. It's a significant contributor to any objective measure of success.