Biomedical science is an exciting and cutting edge career field with plenty of opportunities for graduates at any level. Whether you are interested in pursuing your bachelors, masters, or even a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, there are an exceptional amount of versatile opportunities that you can do with the degree. Below are some of the most prolific careers in biomedical science, along with a short description of each.
Biomedical Environmental Scientist
Biomedical science, also known as microbiology, is fundamental to virtually all modern medical laboratory work and is the basis for over two-thirds of the diagnoses used to treat diseases. Unsurprisingly, the demand for biomedical scientists is large, growing, and not likely to wane anytime soon. The demand is particularly strong for new biomedical research-team members, who frequently work for pharmaceutical, biotech, cosmetics, and health food companies. The college student who is considering pursuing a biomedical science degree should take into account such motivating factors as the following:
- Your love for science will be met with a constant demand for use of your acquired scientific skills
- The quickly and constantly changing nature of the field ensures you will be allowed to engage in ongoing scientific academic study
- The satisfaction of knowing that your efforts are daily paying off in real-world benefits to a large number of patients
- A wide range of specific job opportunities, many of them good-paying and in high demand
Below, we will give you an overview of the duties of a biomedical specialist, the outlook of the job market for this career option, and the educational requirements to begin a biomedical scientist career.
Job Description of a Biomedical Scientist
A biomedical scientist is an investigator who examines tissue and body-fluid samples for the purpose of diagnosing diseases, monitoring patient treatment, or assisting in the development of a new drug or other product. The work of these scientists is considered part of the health care industry and is generally performed in a professional laboratory, either in a hospital setting or for an independent research company.
Accuracy, precision, and efficiency are of the utmost importance in the everyday activities of biomedical practitioners, and they must also learn to work with extremely high-tech medical equipment that is often computerized and heavily automated. Common job duties include all of the following and more:
- Test samples for microbes, enzymes, and hormones
- Communicate the test results to other medical staff members
- Document lab results, write official reports, and record important data
- Develop new investigative methods and keep up-to-date with the latest trends in the field
Biomedical scientists gain invaluable perspective on how diseases affect individuals as well as human society in the course of their careers. They sometimes are called upon to fight major outbreaks or epidemics, but they also devote much time to long-term pursuit of cures for diseases like AIDS, diabetes, and malaria. The day-to-day tasks of these scientists may often be devoted to more common, "less high profile," illnesses, but even here, the services they render are invaluable.
The great complexity and of the biomedical sciences typically leads college students to focus on one particular area of biomedical research,including any of the following:
- Virology, which is concerned with the identification of deadly diseases and the effectiveness of vaccines
- Microbiology, which seeks to better understand disease-causing microorganisms
- Transfusion Science, which concerns itself with blood compatibility and blood-bank supply issues
- Chemistry, as applied to the analysis of body fluids
- Cytology, which investigates cellular structures, often in the fight against cancer
- Hematology, which is the study of blood and blood diseases
- Immunology, which addresses the immune system and its methods of fighting disease
Career Outlook for a Biomedical Scientist
A biomedical science degree offers a relatively wide array of career choices, but there is also intense competition for these positions. A good deal of biomedical research, though not nearly all of it, is federally funded, making federal budget decisions relevant to researchers' fortunes. Biomedical personnel must also closely cooperate with other scientists and other health care workers, making a degree of cross-disciplinary knowledge of great value. Finally, the specific company and niche area will also greatly impact the likely salary.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth in the number of biomedical scientists between 2012 and 2022 is 13%. The current median salary is at about $80,000, though it was only $66,000 in 2010. The top tenth in the profession earn well over $100,000 per year, and a master's greatly increases the odds of landing in a higher salary bracket. Salary also varies significantly with different classes of employers, the medians for the main groups being as follows:
- Federal employers: $95,000
- R & D organizations: $68,000
- State employers: $63,000
- Pharmaceuticals: $62,000
- Colleges: $49,000
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, specifically bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Microbiologists learn how these organisms live, grow, and interact with the environment. They are key in developing medicines and medical procedures to fight the disease causing organisms. As undergraduates, microbiologists take courses in cell biology, biotechnology, and immunology.
The University of Wisconsin in Madison is listed in numerous resources as one of the top ten universities in the world for microbiology studies. UW-Madison offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs in microbiology. The BLS asserts that microbiologists earn an average of $66,000 annually.
Educational Requirements for a Biomedical Scientist
A biomedical-related degree will enable the student to embark on a career of improving community health and combating diseases. Today, as in so many other areas of study, it is feasible to obtain quality online biomedical science degrees, at both introductory and advanced levels. A bachelor's degree in microbiology, in biochemistry, or in a similar discipline will be the first necessary step.
Classes in physics, advanced mathematics, the computer sciences, and statistical analysis will be included in the curriculum along with microbiological and biochemical studies. An internship with a good deal of lab work will also be necessary, and even an online bachelors degree in biomedical sciences can include this aspect.
There are also a number of biomedical degrees that stand at the crossroads of several disciples. For example, you may be interested in biomedical engineering, which combines biomedical knowledge with engineering, general sciences, and human and animal medicines. There are many options, and the more advanced the degree, the more specific the focus can become.
The next step is to pursue an online masters degree in biomedical sciences or an on-campus advanced degree. A master's degree in public health, for example, will give you the tools to fight deadly diseases that threaten the community and work to minimize their impacts.
Most colleges, both online and brick-and-mortar, will work with you to help you choose a master's program that fits your career goals, interests, and skills. If you choose to go on to doctoral study, you will likely obtain a postdoctoral research post for two or three years after degree completion.
This will allow you to work with experienced biomedical scientists, engage in research projects, and eventually conduct original research that can be the basis for a published study.
Biomedical science offers a wide array of attractive careers that are as helpful to the community as they are rewarding to the scientist. By searching out the sources of diseases and seeking ways to combat them, such scientists can save lives and relieve suffering.
An online degree in the biomedical sciences is now a viable alternative and is growing in popularity along with other online study courses. Every level of degree, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral, can be obtained online, and graduates will be able to seek employment in a burgeoning, if also competitive, job market.
Biomedical Environmental Engineer
Biomedical engineers work with and find solutions for problems in medical technology or patient care. They work with other healthcare professionals to innovate ways to improve patient care and overall functioning of health facilities. Biomedical engineers need a bachelors or a masters in biomedical engineering. Biomedical engineering classes include biology, technology, and mechanics.
The US News and World Report ranks the University of Washington as one of the top ten schools in the country for biomedical engineering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates earnings of biomedical engineers at about $87,000 a year.
Biomedical engineers apply engineering principles to the fields of biology and medicine. They may design new medical devices, research how living tissue interacts with machines, test new laboratory equipment or help with the marketing of the latest medical devices. Although extensive training may be required, career demand is expected to spike substantially in the coming years, which makes investing in an education for related fields a wise one.
The tasks of biomedical engineers are as wide ranging as the fields in which they work. Some of their tasks involve the following:
- Sell, install, maintain, repair and provide technical support for biomedical equipment.
- Design biomedical devices, such as diagnostic machines and artificial hips, or clinical software, such as operating systems for health-monitoring stations.
- Coordinate the functions of scientists, such as chemists and biologists, with healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses.
- Research and develop new procedures and systems in the biomedical field for dealing with health issues. For example, they may create computer simulations for testing new drugs.
- Specialize in subfields for greater effectiveness, such as biomechanics, genetic engineering, biomaterials, bioinstrumentation, medical imaging, systems physiology and rehabilitation engineering.
- Teach college-level courses in biotechnology or medical engineering.
Biomedical engineers can work in laboratories to research new systems, offices to plan designs, client companies to explain medical products, or hospitals to train staff on operating new equipment. They may work with healthcare professionals, scientists or engineers from other disciplines.
The full-time work day typically follows normal business hours. However, engineers may add hours to meet with potential clients, deal with emergency medical situations, or consult with doctors.
Employers typically mandate a related bachelor's degree from an accredited institution as the minimum qualification for a job. Another option is to receive a degree in another engineering field and go for either a graduate education or on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.
The higher-level degree is generally needed for advancement. Face-to-face courses are available at many large universities and colleges. Busy professionals can also opt for online biomedical science degrees at the bachelor's and graduate level.
Undergraduate educational programs in biomedical engineering vary by school. The courses offered by Boston University are typical. Students must take foundational subjects in math, chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering, which can involve work in the classroom and the lab.
They then complete training in electronics, physiology, controls, biomechanics, thermodynamics, signals, systems, and engineering mechanics. In their final year, students can specialize in mechanics, biomolecular engineering, signal processing, sensory and neural systems, and instrumentation. They must also complete a project that lasts for two semesters.
Duke University has a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering that reveals the typical courses required for an advance degree. Students must take gain general course credits in life sciences, advanced mathematics, biomedical engineering, and either 12 elective courses without a these or six electives and six thesis credits.
Development and defense of the thesis forms a major part of the degree. Prerequisites for the program include a bachelor's degree in science and engineering, results from the Graduate Record Exam and three academic or professional recommendations.
Online biomedical degrees generally require the same coursework but may be more cost-effective and convenient for those who live far from educational institutes or who work full-time. Aside from completing coursework, students can interact with their professors and fellow students through email, chat room, forum threads, and web conferencing.
Distance learning can also enable students to complete the bulk of their coursework online and then shorten the time needed for in-person assignments, projects, and lab work.
Several personal qualities are important for success in this career:
- Problem-solving skills for determining the issues in biological systems and how to solve them.
- Analytical skills for finding out what patients and healthcare professionals require and how to meet those needs.
- Listening skills for working in teams and gathering information from healthcare professionals, other engineers, patients and company executives.
- Communication skills for expressing their solutions clearly to clients, other engineers and scientists.
- Math skills for using calculus to design systems and devices.
Employment as a Biomedical Environmental Engineer
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical engineers earn a mean $91,760 per year, or $44.12 per hour. The lowest-earning 10 percent make less than $52,680 annually, or $25.33 hourly. The highest-earning 10 percent receive more than $139,350 a year, or $67.00 an hour.
- The biggest employers of biomedical engineers pay a mean salary of $96,610 per year.
- Jobs in scientific research and development services average $103,030 annually
- Jobs with pharmaceutical and medical manufacturers averaging $82,530 annually
- California has the most biomedical engineering positions - with a total of 5,390 jobs/li>
- Metro areas with the most positions are Cambridge and Quincy, Massachusetts - with more than 1,400 biomedical engineering jobs available
- The areas with the highest gross pay are all in California. Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Irvine offer an average salary of $112,960 for biomedical engineers
The BLS predicts that jobs for biomedical engineers will jump by 27 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is far faster than the growth of 11 percent forecast for all occupations and greater than the 9 percent increase projected for all engineers. Much of this demand comes from the diversity of their training, which allows a greater range of job options. A biomedical degree can also lead to careers as a biochemist or biophysicist, mechanical engineer, sales engineer or, with additional medical school training, physician or surgeon.
An aging baby-boom generation will also provide for job growth as they stay active and live longer. They will require new biomedical devices, such as knee replacements. Public education is also prompting patients to ask doctors for biomedical solutions. Advancing technologies will also create new opportunities for these professionals. A final source of job openings will be the aging and retirement of many biomedical engineers.
Other Career Options
Forensic science is an exciting field where technicians gather and analyze materials taken from crime scenes. These individuals play an important role in the investigation process. A degree in biology or biomedical sciences, and coursework in criminology are required to become a forensic scientist. Forensic science students must take courses in all three disciplines regardless of actual major. They will also study physics and chemistry. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences accredits forensic science programs.
The University of North Texas has an accredited program with options to major in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry and earn a certificate in forensic science. The BLS indicates that forensic scientists earn over $52,000 per year.
Health Scientists work in hospitals or labs developing new treatments for varying illnesses or complications. They need a doctoral level degree in a health-related field. Coursework for these individuals varies, but always includes study in biology, microbiology, chemistry, and medical technology.
The US News and World Report indicates University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill as a top ten school for healthcare studies. UNC has healthcare programs in audiology, radiology, neurobiology, pharmacology, and many other specialties. According to the BLS, healthcare scientists earn upwards of $77,000 a year.
Medical Laboratory Technologist
Medical lab techs work behind the scenes in hospitals, clinics, and research facilities testing biological matter, such as blood and tissues. They analyze the matter to determine problems or health issues. In order to become a medical lab tech, you need a degree in medical lab sciences or histo-technology.
The National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences accredits colleges to offer programs in the lab sciences. West Virginia University offers an accredited bachelor degree in histo-technology, where students take courses in pathology, immunology, and an internship. The BLS indicates that Medical Lab Techs earn about $48,000 per year.
Medical researchers are the individuals on the front lines of healthcare innovations. They discover new medicines, new therapies, and even study diseases. Medical researchers work in research hospitals or in research universities. They are also responsible for supervising interns and graduate students.
This job requires a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. The Association of American Medical Colleges offers plenty of information for individuals looking to pursue this field. At research universities, medical researchers earn a salary similar to what post-secondary instructors earn.
Physician’s Assistants are mid-level health practitioners who handle their own caseloads and write prescriptions. They will also supervise nurses and other members of the medical team. Physician’s Assistants must have a bachelor degree with several biomedical science prerequisite courses before entering a PA program.
The University of Colorado is a top-ranked national university on that list. The program takes three years along with a one year internship. Graduates of PA programs earn about $91,000 a year according to the BLS.
Biomedical Sciences Teacher
Biomedical sciences teachers will teach at either the high school or college level. At the college level, it is likely that they will also perform research and supervise graduate students. High school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree in biology education and college professors must have at least a master’s degree in the biomedical sciences.
Auburn University offers a curriculum with optional focus on education or pre-medicine. The BLS indicates that high school biology teachers make about $55,000 a year and post-secondary biomedical science instructors earn closer to $113,000 a year.
Biomedical science writers are responsible for writing pamphlets, manuals, and articles about healthcare topics. For this job, it is essential to have an expert’s knowledge in the field as well as ability to write in a journalistic style. Johns Hopkins University has a graduate program in Science Writing with a large focus on health writing.
It’s best to have a bachelor degree in the biomedical sciences to pursue this field. Alternatively, a degree in biomedical sciences with a minor in writing or journalism would prepare you for the field. The BLS estimates that writers earn about $56,000 annually.
Medical supplies sale representatives work with hospitals and clinics to provide the medical supplies and equipment needed. They may work for companies that sell equipment such as sonographer machines or they may sell general medical supplies or even pharmaceuticals. In these occupations, many companies prefer that employees have extensive knowledge of the supplies and often require a degree in biomedical sciences.
Liberty University offers an interdisciplinary studies online program that allows students to take courses in two or three major areas. For students interested in medical sales, concentrations in biomedical science and marketing would be ideal.
This is just a small sample of the vast array of career options available to biomedical science degree holders. Most of these biomedical careers fall within fields undergoing industrial expansion, so there is likely to be an abundance of jobs available.
Biomedical Environmental Sciences Salary Information
With the great variety of careers that may stem from obtaining a degree in Biomedical Science, it is difficult to narrow down an exact figure that a student may expect to earn upon graduation. However, here is a look at the average salary for some of the top career paths usually pursued by a Biomedical Science student.
Salary Info for those with a Bachelor's Degree
With a B.S. degree, a student may choose to enter into one of these popular career fields:
- Emergency Medical Technician
- Research Assistant
- Dental Hygienist
- Pharmaceutical Sales
- Pediatric Nurse
- Veterinary Technician
With so many options to choose from, you can further narrow down your preferred career by average salary. The salaries may vary greatly depending on the profession.
One important thing to consider with your chosen career path for a Biomedical Science Degree is your demographics. The area in which you choose to work can greatly affect your salary range. For example, a person with a B.S. may expect to find a salary of over $100,000 in Texas, whereas the same degree may only entitle you to a salary of a little over $30,000 in Florida.
Salary Info for those with a Master's Degree
With a M.B.S. (Masters of Biomedical Science), there are as many career options as with a B.S., however the pay is notably larger and the titles are more supervisory.
With a Master's Degree, you may find your calling in one of these popular career fields:
- Hospital Administrator
It is important to note, that the BLS (Bureau for Labor Statistics) frequently lists careers in larger, more generalized categories, so the salary range could be much lower or higher based off the specialization of the position and the location of the employment. For example, an Immunologist is categorized under "Physicians and Surgeons" which is an extremely broad category. It may be better to search by your individual interests and specifications in a more localized database such as through your educational institution.
Best Options to Obtain Your Degree
If you have chosen a career path that you are interested in pursuing, the next step is to enroll in a college or university that offers a degree in Biomedical Science. With this field, you will have access to hundreds of careers that may be right for you. In addition to the career fields listed above, there are also many careers that can branch out from a degree in Biomedical Science.
Some of these fields include, but are not limited to:
- Chiropractic Medicine
- Secondary Education Instructor
- Forensic Science
- Public Health
In addition to the variety of career fields accessible to a person with either a bachelor's or master's in Biomedical Science, is the flexibility when it comes to obtaining that degree. Many Universities and Colleges across the US have both on-campus as well as online degree programs. This makes it easier for a person with any learning style to find the degree program that is right for them.
There are some very competitive programs offered across the US. Five of the top programs, where you can obtain up to a doctorate in the Biomedical Science field, are:
- Johns Hopkins University
- Duke University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Rice University
There are also several online options for a student who needs a more flexible option for their higher education. Five of the top online Biomedical science programs include:
- University of Hartford
- Johns Hopkins University
- Liberty University Online
- Eastern Virginia Medical School
- Oregon Health and Science University
Biomedical Science is an ever expanding field that leads to an endless option of career paths. Whether it is Pharmaceutical sales, Nursing, or owning your own pet store; the options with either your B.S. or M.B.S. in Biomedical Sciences are endless.