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What kinds of career paths are available after getting a degree in biomedical engineering? Are there opportunities for non-research based jobs?

I’m a junior in high school interested in going into biomedical engineering. I love chemistry, math, and biology, and I’m more interested in the practical, hands-on side of science (experiments, things that make a difference in people’s lives).

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Christos’s Answer

Hello Julia!

Biomedical engineering is a fantastic choice for those who want to apply science in a practical way. There are countless companies out there doing amazing work to help people. Here are some of the top players in the biomedical industry:

- Medtronic: They create a variety of medical devices like pacemakers, insulin pumps, spinal implants, and surgical tools.
- GE Healthcare: They specialize in medical imaging equipment such as MRI machines, CT scanners, and ultrasound systems, as well as patient monitoring systems.
- Siemens Healthineers: They're known for their imaging systems like MRI, CT, and ultrasound machines, and also for their laboratory diagnostics equipment and point-of-care testing devices.

Working as a biomedical engineer in these companies means you'll get to do laboratory work, prototype with electromechanical tools, and manage projects and documentation. When you mentioned "research", you might have been thinking of an academic career, which often involves working on topics that may not have practical applications for a long time, if at all. While biomedical engineering is generally a hands-on field, the complexity of the devices you'll work on might mean that your individual contribution may not be immediately visible in the final product.

If you're looking for something more practically oriented, consider studying chemical engineering. You can always decide later if you want to transition into the biomedical field - it's definitely possible with a chemical engineering degree.

I'm currently a biomedical engineer at a late-stage biomedical startup, with a degree in mechanical engineering and a title of "Systems Engineering".

Christos recommends the following next steps:

You can look at some of the big biomedical companies and see if they have high school outreach or internships. You could even find a contact email and say that you are looking to better understand if biomedical engineering is a career path and ask for a tour!
Thank you comment icon I appreciate this, thank you for the advice. Julia
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PAUL’s Answer

I support the comment of your last input by Robert. BIOMED has many diverse fields from engineering to sciences.
Going to a local hospital and asking questions getting answers and seeing the job at hand is going to be the best Answers for your decision making
Thank you comment icon I appreciate your support, PAUL Julia
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Sahida’s Answer

Biomedical engineering (BME) offers a wide range of career paths, including many opportunities outside of traditional research roles. Given your interest in the practical, hands-on side of science and making a difference in people's lives, here are some career options that might align well with your interests:

Non-Research Based Career Paths in Biomedical Engineering
1. Medical Device Design and Development
Role: Biomedical Engineer, Product Development Engineer
Description: Designing and developing medical devices such as prosthetics, implants, diagnostic machines, and surgical instruments.
Key Skills: Engineering design, materials science, regulatory knowledge.
2. Clinical Engineering
Role: Clinical Engineer, Biomedical Equipment Technician
Description: Managing and maintaining medical equipment in hospitals and healthcare facilities, ensuring that devices are safe and effective.
Key Skills: Technical maintenance, problem-solving, knowledge of medical devices.
3. Regulatory Affairs
Role: Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Compliance Officer
Description: Ensuring that medical devices and pharmaceuticals comply with regulatory standards set by organizations like the FDA or EMA.
Key Skills: Regulatory knowledge, attention to detail, communication skills.
4. Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Role: Quality Assurance Engineer, Quality Control Analyst
Description: Developing and implementing processes to ensure products meet required standards and specifications.
Key Skills: Analytical skills, process management, attention to detail.
5. Sales and Marketing
Role: Medical Device Sales Representative, Product Manager
Description: Promoting and selling medical devices to healthcare providers, often providing technical expertise and product training.
Key Skills: Communication, technical knowledge, sales skills.
6. Technical Support and Training
Role: Technical Support Specialist, Biomedical Trainer
Description: Providing technical support and training to healthcare professionals on the use of medical equipment and devices.
Key Skills: Technical expertise, communication, teaching skills.
7. Manufacturing and Production
Role: Manufacturing Engineer, Production Manager
Description: Overseeing the manufacturing process of medical devices, ensuring efficiency, quality, and compliance with standards.
Key Skills: Process engineering, quality control, project management.
8. Consulting
Role: Biomedical Engineering Consultant
Description: Providing expert advice to healthcare organizations, medical device companies, or regulatory bodies on various aspects of biomedical engineering.
Key Skills: Expertise in BME, problem-solving, project management.
9. Healthcare IT and Medical Informatics
Role: Health Informatics Specialist, Biomedical Data Analyst
Description: Managing and analyzing health data to improve patient care and healthcare operations.
Key Skills: Data analysis, programming, healthcare knowledge.
Real-World Applications and Hands-On Work
Given your passion for practical, hands-on science, here are some specific areas within BME where you can directly impact people's lives:

Prosthetics and Orthotics: Developing and fitting prosthetic limbs and orthopedic devices to improve mobility for individuals with disabilities.
Biomaterials: Designing and testing new materials for medical implants and devices that interact with biological systems.
Rehabilitation Engineering: Creating technologies and devices to assist individuals in their recovery from injuries or surgeries.
Medical Imaging: Working with imaging technologies like MRI, CT scans, and ultrasound to improve diagnostic capabilities.
Gaining Experience
To prepare for a career in biomedical engineering, consider:

Internships: Seek internships in medical device companies, hospitals, or research labs.
Projects: Engage in hands-on projects, possibly through school or community programs.
Networking: Connect with professionals in the field through career fairs, LinkedIn, and professional organizations like the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).
Biomedical engineering is a versatile field with numerous opportunities to make a tangible impact on healthcare and patient outcomes. By pursuing this path, you can leverage your interests in chemistry, math, and biology in a practical and meaningful way.
Thank you comment icon That’s incredibly helpful, thank you so much for being so detailed I really appreciate it! Julia
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Robert’s Answer

Hi Julia,
Luckily for you there are many biomed jobs that aren’t research based. And they involve hands-on chemistry, math and biology. Some that come to mind from my experience are in the areas of:
• Bedside patient monitoring and treatment equipment. They include things like IV medication infusers and blood pumps. There are also sensors that help to detect chemistry and diseases in the body, e.g., pulse oximeters and glucose sensors.
• Since you enjoy chemistry, there are a huge number of companies that produce laboratory test equipment, which help to quickly diagnose and save people’s lives daily.
I’d recommend visiting a local hospital and asking for a tour of the Laboratory department. You’d be amazed at all the chem and biology based systems they have.
Hoping your journey goes great!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Robert! Julia
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