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Detailed Guide for

Biomedical Engineers in San Diego County

May also be called: Biochemical Engineers; Bioengineers; Clinical Engineers; Medical Engineers

What Would I Do?

Biomedical Engineers develop devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems by combining their knowledge of biology and medicine with engineering principles and practices. Many conduct research together with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, to develop and evaluate systems and products such as artificial organs, prostheses (artificial devices that replace missing body parts), instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems. Biomedical Engineers may also design devices used in various medical procedures, imaging systems such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions.

Most Engineers in this specialty need a sound background in another engineering specialty, such as mechanical or electronics engineering, in addition to specialized biomedical training. Some concentrations within biomedical engineering include biomaterials, biomechanics, medical imaging, rehabilitation engineering, and orthopedic engineering.

Biomedical Engineers use a variety of tools, materials, and technology in their daily activities. Tools include cardiac pacemakers or other implantable devices, cardiac devices analyzers and testing equipment, fatigue testers, MRI and CT scanners, spine simulators, ultrasound scanners, and physiological recorders.

Materials include electronic components, biocompatible plastics and metals, glass, fabric, including biocompatible patches, drug-eluting materials, natural products and other materials.

Engineers use a variety of technologies in the course of their work. These include analytical/scientific software, specialized mathematical software, computer-aided design (CAD) software, project management software, prototyping software, medical software, instrument software, diagramming software, quality management software, and Web development software, to name some examples.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Install, adjust, maintain, and/or repair biomedical equipment.Computers and Electronics
Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment.Engineering and Technology
Advise and assist in the application of instrumentation in clinical environments.Customer and Personal Service
Diagnose and interpret bioelectric data, using signal processing techniques.Science
Research new materials to be used for products, such as implanted artificial organs.Reading Comprehension
Teach biomedical engineering or disseminate knowledge about field through writing or consulting.Speaking
Adapt or design computer hardware or software for medical science uses.Time Management
Advise hospital administrators on the planning, acquisition, and use of medical equipment.Oral Expression
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Biomedical Engineers typically work in a climate-controlled office with comfortable surroundings and excellent computer and other equipment. However, these Engineers can be found on the factory floor, observing problems and coming up with solutions as the work requires. On occasion, they will work in the laboratory, fashioning new products or tweaking existing ones. They may also work with human patients or animals.

Most Biomedical Engineers work a standard 40-hour week. Sometimes, pressing deadlines will require them to work after hours, on weekends, or on holidays.

Few Biomedical Engineers are members of labor organizations. Those working for government may be required to join a union or pay union dues.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Biomedical Engineer will appeal to those who enjoy working on hands-on projects, rolling up their sleeves, and digging into a problem. They often work with tools and machinery. They may work many hours alone, but must be adept at working with others as members of a team. They must be self-starters, not depending upon others to assign tasks to them.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages for Biomedical Engineers are typically very high and offer above-average earning potential even to those just out of college.

Wages

The median wage in 2015 for Biomedical Engineers in California was $97,747 annually, or $47.00 hourly. The median wage for Biomedical Engineers in San Diego County was $79,029 annually, or $37.99 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$77,325$97,747$122,548
San Diego County$60,260$79,029$99,156
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Most Biomedical Engineers receive excellent benefits. These generally include medical insurance, vacation leave, sick leave, dental insurance, and a retirement plan. Other benefits may include vision and life insurance.

What is the Job Outlook?

Biomedical Engineers will find a good job market over the next few years as the expected growth in the occupation will remain at greater-than-average levels through the forecast period.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Biomedical Engineers is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Biomedical Engineers are expected to increase by 42.6 percent, or 2,300 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

In San Diego County, the number of Biomedical Engineers is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Biomedical Engineers are expected to increase by 31.7 percent, or 130 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Biomedical Engineers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
5,4007,7002,30042.61,400
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
41054013031.7100
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 230 new job openings per year is expected for Biomedical Engineers, plus an additional 140 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 360 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 13 new job openings per year is expected for Biomedical Engineers, plus an additional 10 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 23 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Biomedical Engineers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
230140360
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
131023
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

A bachelor's degree is generally the minimum educational requirement for a position as a Biomedical Engineer. Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering. Occasionally, those with degrees in a related field such as natural science or mathematics may qualify for a job in engineering.

Several California colleges or universities offer degrees in biomedical engineering accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This accreditation is highly regarded and confirms the quality of education that students receive in this professional program.

For those interested in graduate school, there are a number of options that include a Master's of Science in Biomedical Engineering or a combined program that enables the student to get a combined Ph.D/M.D. degree.

Beginning engineering graduates usually work under the supervision of experienced Engineers and, in large companies, also may receive formal classroom or seminar-type training. As new Engineers gain knowledge and experience, they are assigned more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. Many employers will hire only those who have at least two years successful experience in this field. Others will hire applicants straight out of an engineering program, depending upon need.

Early Career Planning

High school students planning to become Biomedical Engineers should take advanced mathematics and science courses. Electives in electronics, business administration, and computer science will provide a valuable background for a successful career. They should take as many math classes as possible, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.

A few firms will offer internships for the most talented high school students. Employment in a job situation that demands computer-assisted design (CAD) work will also provide the prospective Engineer valuable hands-on experience.

Certification

Certificates, although not required, may be offered in biomedical engineering from private engineering associations. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Biomedical Engineering; Engineers; or Consulting Engineers.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Biomedical Engineers are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Medical Equipment and Supplies Mfg 42.9%
Pharmaceutical & Medicine Manufacturing 19.7%
Scientific Research and Development Svc 19.6%
Electronic Instrument Manufacturing 6.1%
Offices of Physicians 1.1%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Contacting employers directly is an effective way to find a job in this field. Other choices include using a college job placement office, attending a job fair, and/or belonging to an engineering organization, especially one that provides services and attention to students. Newspaper advertisements and the Internet provide additional job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Biomedical Engineers.

  • Biomedical Engineers
  • Consulting Engineers
  • Medical Research
  • Orthopedics

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

With additional education and experience, Biomedical Engineers can advance to supervising Engineers, project leaders, or into general management of their company. This is not an uncommon career path for the Engineer who works in a technical field.

Some universities offer a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering combined with a medical degree. This leads to a Ph.D/M.D. degree.

It is possible for ambitious Engineers to work as consultants, or to start their own engineering business.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Biomedical Engineers with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Chemical EngineersGuide
Computer Hardware EngineersGuide
Electronics Engineers, Except ComputerGuide
Industrial EngineersGuide
Mechanical EngineersGuide

Other Sources

  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
         www.abet.org
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
         www.bmes.org
  • IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
         www.embs.org

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification17-2031
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Biomedical Engineers17-2031.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)IRC