Advertiser disclosure

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: Scholarships360 college major guides

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. Check out this post by Best College Reviews to learn about some of the best biomedical engineering programs in the nation. 

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 6% 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 $92,620 in 2020. 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. 

2020 Median Pay: $54,180 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 11% (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.

2020 Median Pay: $51,610 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 7% (As fast as 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.

2020 Median Pay: $91,510 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 11% (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. 

2020 Median Pay: $208,000 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 3% (Slower than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

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!

Also see: Top STEM scholarships