Clinical or biomedical engineers design and develop a wide range of medical equipment and devices such as x-ray machines, scanners and miniature cameras or mobility aids such as artificial limbs and wheelchairs. They can also work in the fields of nuclear medicine, and vascular measurement. They may work in research and manufacture or in health care delivery, combining their knowledge of technology, materials and human anatomy.
You could be:
using computer software and mathematical modelling to design and develop medical equipment, devices and materials
working with a wide range of equipment and devices including pacemakers, scanners, lasers, kidney dialysis machines, artificial joints, miniature cameras for medical use, speech synthesisers, ultrasound and x-ray machines
calibrating, maintaining and repairing a wide range of complex equipment to the required standard
developing complex devices such as heart valves or equipment for keyhole or robotic surgery
researching new materials for making artificial limbs (prosthetics) or developing new microprocessors to control them
working with patients on individual items such as sophisticated wheelchairs for those with complex needs
advising on and arranging clinical trials for new products, to make sure they are suitable for their purpose
liaising with other medical staff, medical sales representatives and equipment manufacturers
keeping records of safety checks and repairs on equipment, and writing reports.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
whether you work for the NHS or a private company.
Salaries for a postgraduate trainee clinical or biomedical engineers in the NHS start on Band 6, £31,800 to £39,169 a year. After successful HCPC registration, you would go on to Band 7, £39,300 to £46,006 a year. The current pay scales are from April 2020. Salaries in the private sector may be higher.
There are some opportunities to progress to Band 9, £102,558 to £107,250 a year.
Depending on your job, you would work in a laboratory or workshop.
You might sometimes work in a clinic or ward in a hospital.
You might have to travel, possibly overseas.
Working hours are regular if you work in research or development, but in hospital you might sometimes have to be on call.
You might have to work with radiation or high voltage equipment.
Some lifting and carrying of heavy medical equipment may be involved.
You need a 2:1 Honours degree (or 2:2 and a Masters degree) in an appropriate subject such as physics or engineering. Degrees in Biotechnology, Biochemistry or Microbiology are also acceptable.
The Universities of Dundee, Glasgow and Strathclyde offer degrees in Biomedical Engineering.
For entry to a degree you need 4-5 Highers, usually including Maths and Physics plus National 5 English.
If you want to gain chartered engineer status, your degree should be accredited by an engineering institute, such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) or the Engineering Council.
If you have a degree in a suitable engineering, health care or life sciences subject, you could take a specialist postgraduate course in biomedical engineering.
If you work as a clinical or biomedical scientist you must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Entry is competitive. Most career opportunities are in the National Health Service (NHS). There are also jobs in private sector health care, in the health care industries, universities, manufacturing companies and in teaching and research.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Dramatherapist; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.