- Design, develop and maintain equipment for diagnosing illness and treating patients
- You might be based in a clinic, lab or an engineering workshop
- You'll need excellent technical and problem-solving ability
As a biomedical (or clinical) engineer you'll apply engineering principles and materials technology to healthcare equipment. You could be employed by health services, medical equipment manufacturers or research departments and institutes.
- Testing equipment like walking aids, wheelchairs and speech synthesisers (known as assistive technologies)
- Developing artificial limbs that attach to the patient's own tissue
- Making artificial joints, heart valves and hearing implants from new materials
- Designing equipment that allows doctors to try new medical techniques like optical instruments for keyhole surgery
- Management of medical equipment like scanners, imaging machines and monitoring systems
- Carrying out quality assurance checks to ensure all equipment is working correctly and safely
- Working closely with other medical professionals and technical staff
In the NHS, you may have to work evenings or weekends as part of an on-call rota, depending on your role. If you work in a hospital, you'll be based in a clinic and an engineering workshop. You may need to travel locally, usually to manage and maintain medical equipment in hospitals or health centres. You may also need to travel for conferences and meetings. In research or industry, you'll usually be based in a laboratory. You'll travel to introduce new equipment to hospitals.
This role is ideal for someone with excellent science and maths knowledge, design skills and knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software.
You'll usually need to do a degree to start training as a clinical engineer in a relevant subject such as electrical or electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical science/engineering, pure or applied physics or applied maths. Your degree should be accredited by the Engineering Council. You'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including 2 sciences and 2 or 3 A levels, including maths and physics.
After your degree, you can apply for the postgraduate NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). During the 3-year programme, you'll be employed and study a postgraduate master's degree at university. Competition for places on the STP is high, so it helps if you have relevant experience. Try and do some voluntary work in a hospital and get experience of patient contact.
You could also find employment in the private sector and work your way up to chartered engineer status.
If you do not have a degree, you could apply for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme. During the 3-year programme, you'll be employed and study a degree in healthcare science at university. You'll need 5 GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English language, maths and a science subject and at least 2 A levels, including maths or a science to apply.
Alternatively you could get into this job through a healthcare science practitioner degree apprenticeship.
You'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council to be a Biomedical engineer.
With experience and further training, you could become a consultant, specialising in particular clinical areas. Some people also move into management, teaching or medical research (which would typically involve undertaking a PhD and some teaching or lecturing work).