What Degree is Needed For a Career in Medical Bioengineering?

Science and medical research sample analysis
Science and medical research sample analysis

If you're interested in using your passion for the mechanics of engineering to improve patient care in the healthcare industry, you may want to earn a degree needed for a career in medical bioengineering. Bioengineers work with physicians, researchers, therapists, and other health professionals to develop equipment that resolves clinical treatment issues. Biomedical engineers have the rewarding chance to create life-saving technologies, such as prosthetics, surgical robotics, artificial organs, diagnostic systems, and imaging methods. Due to the aging baby boomer population and larger demand for medical devices, employment of biomedical engineers is expected to skyrocket by 27 percent, thus creating over 5,200 new jobs by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The following are the different degree levels available to help successfully enter the in-demand field of medical bioengineering.

B.S. in Biomedical Engineering

At the undergraduate level, the B.S. in Biomedical Engineering leads to a Bachelor of Science degree over four years full-time. After fulfilling a general education core, students delve into the fundamentals of engineering, science, and medicine. The curriculum could include courses on mechanics, biomedical devices, cell functioning, human anatomy, gene structure, body dynamics, nuclear medicine, physiology, biomaterials, and more. Most programs will also include hands-on bioengineering laboratory work to expose undergraduate students to the research and experiment techniques used to pioneer cutting-edge medical technology. A high school diploma or GED equivalent is required, but some schools may require prerequisites in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology too.

M.S. in Biomedical Engineering

Typically housed in a university's medical school, the M.S. in Biomedical Engineering is an intensive graduate degree that takes at least two years full-time beyond the baccalaureate level. In an interdisciplinary curriculum, the master's program offers students to specialize their expertise in a certain area of bioengineering. For instance, some schools may offer students the chance to concentrate in artificial organs, bioelectrical devices, cardiopulmonary systems, prosthetic design, disease physiology, or similar areas. Entrants usually need to have at least an accredited bachelor's degree, fulfill prerequisites, and pass the GRE exam. The M.S. is a smart investment for those looking to advance beyond entry-level jobs to become research directors, process development leaders, and senior biomedical engineers.

Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering

As the field's terminal degree program, the Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering is the most advanced option available for medical bioengineers looking for leadership. The doctoral degree will also help students unlock opportunities to qualify for research and teaching roles at the university level. Depending on a candidate's level of previous education, the Ph.D. can take anywhere from two to six years for completion. In addition to specialized coursework ranging from molecular biophysics to advanced physiology, the program requires independent dissertation research and sometimes an internship. Although this degree isn't usually required, the doctorate can be wise for rising to the top in the highest-paying bioengineering jobs.

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Overall, medical bioengineering is an innovative, fast-growing field that rewards professionals for cracking tough problems in healthcare with a high median salary of $91,760. A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for landing jobs in medical bioengineering, but some advance to the master's or doctoral level for more responsibility and earning potential, according to The Institute. If you decide to pursue a degree needed for a career in medical bioengineering at an accredited school, you'll have the analytical, problem-solving, and research skills for discovering the next clinical solution that can improve patient well-being.

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