You love solving real-world problems and inventing stuff. But you are also passionate about helping the ill. Did you know that you can combine both interests by earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering?
Biomedical engineering is a fitting major for degree-seeking students who want a high-paying career in the STEM field but not as stressful as other engineering disciplines. It’s also for those who are interested in both engineering and medicine and using them to improve the health and well-being of people.
Just before you add biomedical engineering to your list of potential college majors, read on.
By the time you reach the end of this post, you will have a much better idea of what it’s like to be a biomedical engineering major, thus allowing you to decide so much better if it’s the right major for you or another engineering type.
Are Biomedical Engineering Majors Rich?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the best-paid 25% of biomedical engineers make a median salary of $123,400 per year. Meanwhile, the highest-paid 10% of them earn a median annual salary of $154,750. The median salary of biomedical engineers in the US is $97,410 per year.
It’s no secret that some of the highest-paid professionals on the planet are engineers.
Among various engineers, however, biomedical engineers are some of the most handsomely paid, based on a report entitled the Top 10 Highest Paying Engineering Jobs of 2022 by the Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, which is ranked #45 in Best Engineering Schools by US News.
Let’s take a look at the complete list:
|#6||Big data engineer|
|#9||Computer hardware engineer|
As mentioned earlier, in the US, the median annual salary of biomedical engineers amounts to $97,410. This means that 50% of them earn less than $97,410 per year, while 50% of them earn more than $97,410 per year.
The said amount is 50% higher than the median annual salary for all workers on the land.
Where biomedical engineers work can have a considerable impact on how much money they make per year. In the country, some states simply pay biomedical engineers more. Needless to say, if you want to get rich after earning your bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, you should carefully choose where you work.
Here are the top five highest-paying states for biomedical engineers:
|STATE||ANNUAL MEAN SALARY|
Are Biomedical Engineers Happy?
It’s safe to assume that biomedical engineers who love being in STEM-related careers and helping people have better lives are happy with their jobs. Based on a CareerExplorer survey, biomedical engineers give their career happiness a rating of 3.4 stars. The highest rating participants can give is 5 stars.
Because of the rating biomedical engineers give their career happiness, they are in the top 40% of all careers based on the satisfaction level workers have with their jobs.
Let’s take a look at other professionals with the same 3.4-star rating as biomedical engineers:
- Aerospace engineers
- Endoscopy technicians
- Natural sciences managers
- Surgical assistants
- Wind energy engineers
CareerExplorer bases the career satisfaction level of individuals on various factors, ranging from personality fit to salary. Here are the ratings given by biomedical engineers for each factor considered:
- Meaningfulness of job: 3.3 out of 5 stars
- Personality fit: 3.7 out of 5 stars
- Salary: 3.3 out of 5 stars
- Skill utilization: 3.4 out of 5 stars
- Work environment: 3.5 out of 5 stars
But it’s important to keep in mind that just because biomedical engineers Career Explorer has surveyed give their career happiness a slightly above-average rating doesn’t mean right away you will feel the same way toward your career once you are already working as a biomedical engineer.
That’s because career happiness is a subjective matter — it depends on the perception of the individual.
It’s more likely for you to be completely happy and satisfied being in the biomedical engineering field if you have a very strong interest in engineering and medicine. And if you love solving problems and coming up with new ideas, you’re in luck because that’s what biomedical engineers do per project.
Is BME Stressful?
According to a Yahoo! Finance report, biomedical engineering is one of those careers that tends to pay a lot but doesn’t come with a lot of stress. One of the probable reasons for such is that biomedical engineers spend most of their work hours in front of a computer in a quiet office or laboratory setting.
Since it’s in the STEM field, there is no denying that biomedical engineering can be a challenging profession.
This is especially because biomedical engineers have to solve health problems by offering medical solutions using the principles of engineering. Basically, people with disabilities and diseases rely on them.
But despite this, biomedical engineers are not as stressed as other professionals within the engineering field as well as outside of it. As a matter of fact, as mentioned earlier, biomedical engineering is a high-paying career that’s not as stressful as most other careers, says a Yahoo! Finance report entitled 15 High-Paying Careers That Won’t Kill You.
Another website agrees, saying that biomedical engineering is a low-stress engineering job.
The vast majority of the most stressful jobs out there usually entail dealing with patients complaining about uncomfortable symptoms and side effects and customers complaining about disappointing products or services. The same is true for professionals who put their lives on the line, such as police officers and firefighters.
It’s a completely different matter for biomedical engineers. Usually, they spend their time with other biomedical engineers collaborating on a project. They also work with healthcare professionals and scientists every now and again.
Based on a survey, only 4 out of 10 people in high-paying careers admit that their jobs have a negative effect on their stress. On the other hand, it’s a completely different matter for those who are in low-paying jobs — up to 50% of them say that their work has an unfavorable impact on their everyday stress levels.
Due to the fact that biomedical engineers are some of the best-paid professionals around, it’s safe to assume that the reason why they are not as stressed as most others is that they are compensated very well.
Is Biomedical Engineering Hard in College?
Because biomedical engineering is a combination of two disciplines, one in the STEM field and the other in the medical field, it isn’t surprising that it’s a challenging major. Many difficult hard sciences are studied by biomedical engineering majors, ranging from biology, chemistry, physics to mathematics.
It’s common knowledge that engineering majors are some of the hardest ones that degree-seeking students can choose from. Everyone also knows that the same can be said for medical majors.
Since biomedical engineering encompasses both engineering and medicine, it’s a difficult discipline.
The vast majority of college students who major in biomedical engineering are those who consider engineering and hard and health sciences some of their favorite high school classes or Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Typically, they are also those who like to have careers that employ engineering techniques to solve issues in biology and medicine.
Another reason why biomedical engineering is a challenging major is that it’s interdisciplinary — its engineering aspect alone is a combination of chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering.
It’s due to this why undergraduate students majoring in it can choose from concentrations such as:
- Biological materials
- Biomaterials and drug delivery
- Biomechanics and mechanobiology
- Biomechanics and rehabilitation
- Biomedical devices
- Biomedical signals and images
- Cell and tissue engineering
- Clinical engineering
- Computer engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Molecular engineering
- Orthopedic engineering
- Rehabilitation engineering
- Synthetic and computational engineering
- Systems physiology
Please take note that not all possible biomedical engineering concentrations are available in a program or at a college or university — some may have a lot, while others may have only a handful.
Especially if you have a particular concentration or career path in mind, it’s a good idea to check out the biomedical engineering program of an institution by visiting its website or getting in touch with the school’s engineering department office. You may also consult with your high school counselor to talk about the matter.
Based on a Cambridge University Press article, college students who double major in a STEM field tend to earn more than those with just one major. If your goal is to enjoy more high-paying career opportunities after earning your bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, you might want to consider double majoring.
Here are some of the top double majors in biomedical engineering:
- Aerospace engineering
- Agricultural engineering
- Chemical engineering
- Civil engineering
- Computer engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Electromechanical engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Geoscience engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Nuclear engineering
- Systems engineering
What Can You Do With Degree in BME
Biomedical engineers in the US make a median salary amounting to $97,410 per year. From 2020 to 2030, the projected job growth rate for biomedical engineering is 6%, which is just slightly lower than the average for all occupations (8%). Many other job options are available for biomedical engineering majors.
These are just a few of the things you can do with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering:
- Median annual salary: $103,710
- Job outlook in 10 years: 8%
Not everyone can sell those complex technological products to businesses or service providers. That’s because marketing them requires extensive knowledge not only about the commodities and their individual parts but also the scientific processes making them work. This is when sales engineers come to the rescue.
When it comes to selling diagnostic equipment, implantable devices, artificial limbs and other technological advancements in the medical field, nothing can be more suited for the job than biomedical engineering majors themselves.
- Median annual salary: $78,060
- Job outlook in 10 years: 12%
Unlike other types of writers such as bloggers, journalists, columnists and feature writers, technical writers specialize in writing instructions, manuals, guides and supporting documents as well as procedures for professional, commercial or domestic use. They are also sometimes referred to as technical communicators.
Of the more than 52,000 technical writers in the US, as per BLS 2020 data, around 37% work for companies that provide technical or scientific types of services. Meanwhile, up to 16% work for manufacturing companies.
- Median annual salary: $62,897
- Job outlook in 10 years: 16%
Biomedical engineering majors who work as medical consultants are often sought by research institutions and medical organizations when it comes to guidance and recommendations, particularly in biomedicine.
In most instances, clients discuss with medical consultants matters about medical devices and software to use as well as various organizational and executory decisions. In order to come up with the best possible advice, medical consultants carry out research and experiments, thus helping to improve all kinds of healthcare processes and procedures.
Medical and health services manager
- Median annual salary: $101,340
- Job outlook in 10 years: 32%
Unlike medical consultants, medical and health service managers plan, direct and oversee themselves the activities in healthcare facilities and by healthcare providers. It’s due to this why they are also known as healthcare administrators or executives. They can have other titles, too, depending on the facility or expertise concerned.
Some employers may prefer medical and health service managers with a master’s. Those with a bachelor’s, meanwhile, can become more marketable by having previous work experience or a minor in business management or administration.
- Median annual salary: $80,779
- Job outlook in 10 years: 10%
Biomedical engineering majors who serve as quality engineers spring into action not before or during the manufacturing of medical products. Instead, they step into the scene after the manufacturing process. As the job title suggests, quality engineers are tasked with ensuring that the goods meet quality standards and safety regulations.
Other than technical and detail-oriented skills, it’s also a must for quality engineers to have interpersonal and teamwork skills since they usually have to work with engineers, scientists and other quality control team members.
- Median annual salary: $98,300
- Job outlook in 10 years: 8%
Developing, processing and testing materials for biomedical engineering purposes — such is what materials engineers do. Although there is such a thing as a bachelor’s degree program in materials engineering, other engineering programs may be completed, too, by those who want to work as materials engineers, including biomedical engineering.
Materials engineers spend most of their work hours in office settings where they have easy access to computers and all kinds of design equipment. Some also work in development laboratories and manufacturing plants.
- Median annual salary: $69,348
- Job outlook in 10 years: 10%
In a nutshell, rehabilitation engineers are tasked with designing and developing many different kinds of rehabilitative and assistive technologies using engineering principles. The goal is to help improve the quality of life of people with all sorts of disabilities, ranging from mobility, vision, hearing, communication to cognition.
While there are many entry-level jobs available for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or a closely related discipline, some employers prefer those with a master’s.
- Median annual salary: $81,914
- Job outlook in 10 years: 17%
Biomedical engineering majors who are functioning as project engineers have a lot on their plate as they are tasked with overseeing the various technical and engineering aspects of biomedical projects with which they are assigned.
Planning, scheduling, managing, checking, predicting — these and many others are what project engineers do on a day-to-day basis. They are also responsible for managing the budget as well as the personnel. Needless to say, it’s important for them to possess superb managerial, organizational, decision-making and communication skills.
Best BME Schools
Some of the top colleges and universities for biomedical engineering majors offer engineering programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This means that their biomedical engineering programs have been evaluated and found to meet a high standard of quality.
Although it’s not a requirement to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in biomedical engineering that’s ABET-accredited, you can have peace of mind that you are about to work on an excellent one if it’s accredited.
Here are some of the best US institutions for students who like to major in biomedical engineering:
|INSTITUTION||TUITION AND FEES|
|Johns Hopkins University||$58,720|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$55,878|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||$12,682 (in-state) and $33,794 (out-of-state)|
|University of California – Berkeley||$14,361 (in-state) and $44,115 (out-of-state)|
|University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||$16,178 (in-state) and $53,232 (out-of-state)|
|University of California – San Diego||$14,733 (in-state) and $44,487 (out-of-state)|
|University of Pennsylvania||$61,710|
|Case Western Reserve University||$54,020|
|University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign||$16,866 (in-state) and $34,316 (out-of-state)|
|Washington University in St. Louis||$56,300|
Top Online BME Universities
A couple of traditional institutions with online campuses offering a bachelor’s degree program in biomedical engineering can be found below. I have also included a few important pieces of information about each one of them to help you make the right choice. Feel free to consider other options that you can find online.
Grand Canyon University
- Location: Phoenix, Arizona
- Cost: $687.50 per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Graduation rate: 31%
- Average starting salary: $38,400 per year
- Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Florida International University
- Location: Miami, Florida
- Cost: $205.57 (in-state) and $618.87 (out-of-state) per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 58%
- Graduation rate: 56%
- Average starting salary: $38,500 per year
- Accreditor: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.