Job Profile: Biomedical Equipment Specialist

Are you thinking of pursuing a career as a biomedical equipment specialist? Perhaps you’re wondering how to prepare for this type of career. Maybe you’re curious about what a typical biomedical equipment specialist’s salary range might be. Read on for the crash course on what you need to know to prepare yourself for a career in this rewarding healthcare industry vocation.

Some biomedical equipment specialists are medical equipment repairers. Some are biomedical engineers who specialize specifically in the medical equipment niche.

When applying for jobs in this field, you can make the distinction simply by evaluating the job description and essential duties as described in the recruiting literature. The main difference to look for: Will you be designing, creating and developing new medical devices? Or will you simply be repairing and maintaining existing medical devices? This job title could apply to either type of work, so it’s important to stay alert to the details to ensure you have the right credentials for the job at hand.

Typical Salary Range for Biomedical Equipment Specialists

As of May 2016, medical equipment repair specialists were earning median annual salaries of $48,070. Biomedical engineers were earning higher rates of pay; the annual salary for this role was $85,620 during the same time frame. (Source: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary data for medical equipment repairers and biomedical engineers.)

Beginning Salary — If you’re a biomedical equipment technician specializing in repairs, you could expect to earn a starting salary in the neighborhood of $29,130 or less. If you’re a biomedical engineer specializing in the design of new medical devices, you could expect to earn a starting salary of $51,050 or less. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, these figures represent the upper limits on the salaries earned by the lowest-paid 10 percent of all workers in these specializations.

Key Responsibilities of a Biomedical Equipment Specialist

A typical workday could include any of the following duties:

  • Diagnose problems with malfunctioning medical equipment
  • Perform installations of medical devices or equipment
  • Perform calibrations on medical equipment
  • Administer routine maintenance and equipment tests as necessary
  • Maintain records regarding the facility’s maintenance and repair schedule
  • Design and implement new technologies in the field of medical equipment
  • Write and publish papers regarding new research in the area of specialization

There are many different types of biomedical equipment. Many biomedical equipment technicians specialize in designing, maintaining and / or repairing one specific type of medical device. For this reason, the exact nature of the work can vary greatly from one position to the next.

Necessary Skills for Becoming a Biomedical Equipment Specialist

Troubleshooting ability is one of the most important skills for becoming a biomedical equipment specialist. A technician must possess an understanding of how sophisticated medical devices function. S/he must also have the necessary patience and determination to persist in tracking down and fixing hidden problems.

Strong writing skills, oral communication skills and interpersonal skills are all desirable for this position.

It’s important for technicians to manage their time well under pressure, as many necessary medical device repairs are urgent in nature. Patients’ lives typically depend on quick fixes to malfunctioning machinery.

Workers in this role should ideally be physically fit and possess outstanding dexterity.

Degree and Education Requirements

An associate’s degree is the entry-level requirement for successfully obtaining employment in this field. Your degree could be in biomedical engineering, biomedical technology, clinical engineering or a closely related specialization. If you want to work with basic, uncomplicated medical equipment such as hospital beds, an associate’s degree may be all you need.

Many positions in this niche require bachelor’s degrees, and it is also not uncommon for senior-level positions to require even more advanced degrees. If you want to work with sophisticated equipment such as defibrillators or CAT scanners, it’s beneficial to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you want to become a medical imaging technology specialist, you may find that you need a master’s degree to successfully compete for the best available jobs. There are also senior-level administrative jobs in this niche that require MBA degrees.

Rewards and Challenges of Becoming a Biomedical Equipment Specialist

Challenges:

Most technicians find that their greatest challenge in this line of work is dealing with high levels of stress. Imagine that you’re on the job trying to fix a malfunctioning medical device, and the patient who needs it is still attached to it. Could you deal with that kind of pressure?

Technicians who work in hospital environments find that they are frequently exposed to communicable diseases, which can create significant health risks for them.

Some technicians are on call at all times. This can be disruptive to their personal lives.

About 14 percent of all biomedical equipment repairers are self-employed. These individuals must travel frequently; they often find that they are away from their families, friends and colleagues. They also face all the usual challenges of running their own businesses:

  • Finding clients
  • Billing and collections of fees due
  • Accounting and maintaining accurate records

Rewards:

This is a career path that offers an abundance of opportunities, great pay and a favorable future outlook.

Many technicians enjoy the travel requirements that come along with the job. Technicians often find that they enjoy the work itself; many have mentioned that they find the immediacy extremely rewarding. Often, as soon as they implement a repair on a device, it is put into service to improve conditions for the patients who need it.

Getting Started With a Career as a Biomedical Equipment Specialist

After you’ve completed the relevant education to obtain work in your field of specialization, you’ll want to complete some training to gain experience. It is typical for new technicians to train under senior-level technicians for at least 3 months before working independently. You might also want to obtain certification from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. This is not always a requirement, but certification can give you an edge over other applicants when you’re applying for competitive jobs in the field.

Future Outlook for Finding Work as a Biomedical Equipment Specialist

Experts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict a 6 percent rate of growth in job opportunities for medical equipment repairers and a 23 percent rate of growth in job opportunities for biomedical engineers.

The diverse range of hiring organizations makes this a particularly viable field for new workers to explore. There are jobs to be found in the healthcare industry, the manufacturing industry and the pharmaceutical industry. The US military and various government organizations also sometimes hire workers in this niche.

We hope this information is helpful to you in understanding more about the role that biomedical equipment specialists play in society. If you think you might want to seek employment in this specialization, you’re now empowered with the information you need to make decisions regarding your academic pursuits and future work experience.

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