Biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited program to enter the occupation. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering or get on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.
Prospective biomedical engineering students should take high school science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They should also take mathematics, including calculus. Courses in drafting or mechanical drawing and computer programming are also useful.
Bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical engineering focus on engineering and biological sciences. Programs include laboratory-based courses in addition to classes in subjects such as fluid and solid mechanics, computer programming, circuit design, and biomaterials. Other required courses include in-depth training in biological sciences, including physiology.
Accredited programs also include substantial training in engineering design. Many programs include co-ops or internships, often with hospitals, to provide students with practical applications as part of their study. Biomedical engineering programs are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).
Analytical skills. Biomedical engineers must be able to analyze the needs of patients and customers to design appropriate solutions.
Communication skills. Because biomedical engineers sometimes work with patients and frequently work with other professionals, such as medical scientists or other engineers, they must be able to express themselves clearly.
Listening skills. Biomedical engineers often work in teams and gather input from patients, therapists, physicians, and business professionals. They must seek others’ ideas and incorporate them into the problem-solving process.
Math skills. Biomedical engineers use the principals of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
Problem-solving skills. Biomedical engineers typically deal with and solve problems in complex biological systems.
To lead a research team, a biomedical engineer typically needs a graduate degree. Some biomedical engineers attend dental or medical school to specialize in applications at the front lines of patient care, such as using electric impulses in new ways to get muscles moving again. Some earn law degrees and work as patent attorneys.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition