As the world of medicine introduces more and more technological methods of curing the sick, the need for experts to design, develop and maintain these technologies grows. The role of a biomedical engineer is to aid the medical profession in using new equipment and machinery to perform tasks in surgery, develop technology to help in the healing process and to improve existing tools to maximise performance. New techniques such as tissue engineering also involve biomedical engineers working with scientists to help create new tissue that can be re-planted into patients to help their healing process.
In order to become a biomedical engineer you must hold a bachelor or masters degree in biomedical engineering. To be accepted on to a biomedical engineering course you must first hold at least five GCSEs graded A*-C including ones in maths, English and science as well as three or more A-levels including one in either maths or physics. Once on the course you will gain practical experience in the discipline as well as receiving extensive teaching in the theoretical aspects. This will include in-depth study in maths, computing, circuit theory, electronics, radiology, optics and other areas which will give you a secure education to last you throughout your career.
To progress as a biomedical engineer you should have a wide variety of skills. As well as being naturally adept at science and maths you should be very good at communicating ideas and have excellent inter-personal skills. You should have a keen interest in developing technologies, especially those related to the work of a biomedical engineer and the medical profession. Due to the nature of the work, a strong sense of ethics is required as well as a large amount of human understanding and empathy. In order to progress to the highest levels of the biomedical engineering profession you should have, or find it easy to gain, managerial skills such as delegation, economic awareness and the ability to inspire others.
It would be an advantage before entering university education to try and gain some experience in the world of engineering; especially in aspects that deal with computer technologies. However, once in university you will receive a lot of practical experience and, depending on the institution, get to use the latest technology used in biomedical engineering. Many courses also allow you to take a placement within the industry, usually during your second or third year, while still working towards your course. You will be constantly monitored while on placement to see how adept you are at working in the real biomedical world. You may also get the opportunity, through the Erasmus scheme, to take this placement year in another country; further expanding your experience and making you even more attractive to employers.
A recent graduate working for the NHS can expect to make around £20,000 a year, depending on location, which will rise to around £27,000 with experience. Working for private companies can offer higher salaries but more extensive experience is usually required. A state registered biomedical scientist working for the NHS can earn as much as £37,000 a year with the possibility of becoming a consultant which can bring more than £90,000 a year.