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    Biomedical Engineering Major Overview

    By Zach Skillings

    Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: May 7th, 2024
    Biomedical Engineering Major Overview

    Within the wide world of engineering there are many specializations, and biomedical engineering is one of the most valuable. Without this incredible field of study, life-changing medical products such as prosthetic limbs and cardiac pacemakers wouldn’t exist. If you’re interested in using science and technology to improve the lives of others, then biomedical engineering is for you. 

    Also see: Top STEM scholarships

    What is a biomedical engineering major?

    Engineering is all about problem-solving, and biomedical engineering is no different. As a student in this field, you’ll learn how to use engineering to find solutions to complex medical issues. By pairing biology and engineering, you’ll gain the skills needed to design medical devices such as artificial organs, prosthetics, and medical imaging equipment. As a result, you’ll become fluent in the language of both engineering and medicine. This major also requires collaboration with other students, so you can expect to gain valuable teamwork and communication skills as well. 

    Biomedical engineering is a relatively new subset of engineering. Because of this, only a select number of schools offer a bachelor’s degree in the field.  

    Related: Top engineering scholarships

    Coursework to expect

    As you can imagine, biomedical engineering requires a heavy dose of math and science classes. During their first year or two, students gain a solid foundation by taking introductory mathematics, biology, engineering, chemistry, and physics classes. From there, students take advanced classes and labs covering topics like fluid and solid mechanics, circuit design, and biomaterials. Depending on the program, students may be able to specialize in certain areas such as tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, neural engineering, or synthetic biology. Most students will also need to take some sort of social studies or humanities courses to fulfill their school’s core curriculum. 

    Below are some potential courses you may encounter:

    • Calculus 
    • General Chemistry
    • Physics 
    • Cellular and Molecular Biology
    • Differential Equations
    • Engineering Fundamentals
    • Biomedical Measurements
    • Thermodynamic Mechanics
    • Machine Learning
    • Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering

    Related: What is STEM and why should I study it?

    Opportunities after graduation

    Employment of biomedical engineers is expected to grow by 5% over the next decade, which is great news for students interested in this field. As far as salary, professionals in this field earned a median annual pay of $199,730 in 2023. Biomedical engineers can specialize in a number of different areas and focus their efforts on certain diseases, organ systems, or technology. For instance, they may develop software to detect abnormal heart rhythms. Or, they may investigate a new method of drug delivery to treat chronic diseases. Whatever the case may be, biomedical engineers perform important work that improves human health in a variety of ways. 

    Note that a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to find work in the field, but some positions require an advanced degree. If you’re interested in pursuing a graduate degree in biomedical engineering, consider programs that offer combined bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sometimes these programs feature accelerated study options that allow students to earn two degrees in a shorter amount of time. 

    Also see: College majors for the future

    Jobs you can get with a biomedical engineering degree

    A degree in this field lends itself to career paths outside of biomedical engineering as well. Below are a few examples of jobs you can get with a background in biomedical engineering. Keep in mind that some require advanced degrees. 

    1. Clinical laboratory technologist

    Clinical lab technologists collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids and tissue. For instance, they may study blood samples for use in transfusions or examine tissue samples for signs of cancer. Many technologists work in hospitals, while others work in medical laboratories or doctors’  offices. 

    2023 Median Pay: $60,780 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 5% (Faster than average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

    2. Medical equipment repairer

    This line of work involves installing, maintaining, and repairing patient care equipment. Also known as biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs), these professionals work on a wide range of devices including defibrillators, anesthesia equipment, x-ray machines, and CAT scanners. Usually, an associate degree is enough to find work in this field, but a bachelor’s is needed for advancement or specialization.

    2023 Median Pay: $60,670 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 13% (Much faster than average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    3. Medical scientist 

    Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving human health. They study the cause of diseases, work to develop new treatments, and lead teams of technicians. A Ph.D. or a medical degree is required to become a medical scientist.

    2023 Median Pay: $100,890 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 10% (Much faster than average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

    4. Physician 

    A background in biomedical engineering can also be used to pursue a medical degree and become a doctor. Physicians can specialize in a number of different areas, including cardiology, dermatology, family medicine, emergency medicine, and many others. 

    2023 Median Pay: $239,200 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2033): 3% (As fast as average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

    Also see: Scholarships360 college major guides

    How do I know if this major is right for me? 

    If you’re considering a major in biomedical engineering, ask yourself the following questions: 

    • Are you curious about how technology can improve human health? 
    • Do you enjoy solving problems and working as part of a team?
    • Are you passionate about helping others?
    • Are you prepared to take a heavy load of math and science courses? 

    If you answered yes to most of these questions, then this major could be right for you! No matter where you are on your higher education journey, make sure that you apply for all the scholarships you qualify for!

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