What is a Biomed?

Lets start off with some definitions:

  • Biomed / Biomedical Equipment Technician (BMET): A BMET usually goes by many names. Among them are Clinical Engineer, BMET, Biomedical Engineer and Medical Equipment Technician. We are the unsung heroes in hospitals and the HTM (Healthcare Technology Management) field in general. We are the people who maintain the medical capital equipment, including your defibrillators, patient monitors, hospital beds, MRIs, etc. Many people have never even heard of a biomed before you tell them what one is.
  • Healthcare Technology Management (HTM): Another name for the career field of Biomed, but instead encompassing the managers, technicians, engineers, field-service, software support, IT; pretty much everyone that supports the medical equipment infrastructure. A good starting point for HTM is on the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation’s (AAMI)’s HTM in a Box, which is designed to promote the HTM field.

But what does a biomed actually do? According to the Journal of Clinical Engineering :: American College of Clinical Engineering :: Clinical Engineering Division; Walter Reed Army Medical Center:

The responsibilities of a BMET may include installation, calibration, inspection, preventive maintenance, and repair of biomedical and related technical equipment. Additional responsibilities may include operation of equipment, equipment control and safety. In research facilities, BMETs may also be involved in the modification of equipment.

That’s right, biomeds are not just employed by hospitals, but can also find work in clinics, research labs, and medical equipment manufacturing. Some examples of “biomedical equipment”, again from the Journal of Clinical Engineering :: American College of Clinical Engineering :: Clinical Engineering Division; Walter Reed Army Medical Center, are:

Examples of equipment may include imaging, hemodialysis, physiological monitoring systems; EKG’s, EEG’s, physical therapy, lasers, sterilizers, dental equipment, etc. Due to the diversity of the equipment specialization is sometimes required.

According to 24×7 Magazine’s 2019 salary survey, the median pay in 2019 for a BMET I was $48,700 or approx. $23.41/hr. The vast majority of employers prefer at least an Associate’s Degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology/Electronics for entry-level postions; however with a largely aging workforce, predictions are that in the near future there will be more jobs than there are qualified technicians to fill them. This is predicted to create opportunity for individuals with transferrable skills.

Some technologies you'll be working with:

How Can I Get Into This Field?

This field requires basic knowledge in the following 5 areas:

  • computers / networking
  • electrical / electronics
  • anatomy / physiology
  • customer service
  • mechanical aptitude

A biomed doesn’t need a PhD or Bachelors in any of those fields, it’s a practical application of knowledge that encompasses a little from each. In fact, there are very few degree programs available in the United States specific to this field. Therefore, we advise an associate of computer science or any STEM related degree along with the following:

  1. Join CABMET as a student member ($10 / year), which will include the following benefits:
  2. Subscribe to our newsletter (free with membership).
  3. Attend our volunteer events where you will get hands-on experience with biomedical equipment (comes with membership).
  4. Attend our periodic meetings where you will visit companies in the business (free with membership).
  5. Attend our annual symposium on the first Thursday/Friday of August, where you can meet biomeds and vendors, take classes, and have a great time (free with membership).
  6. After getting acquainted with suppliers, biomeds, manufacturers, etc., attend AAMI training seminars online (not free, but pretty cheap).
  7. Take and pass the CABT exam (also not free, but pretty cheap).
  8. Get a job utilizing all the available connections and become a full member of CABMET.

What Are Some Biomedical Certifications

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is the organization through which technicians obtain professional certifications. Certified Biomedical Equipment Technicians (CBET,) Certified Radiology Equipment Specialists (CRES,) and Certified Healthcare Technology Managers (CHTM’s) all maintain their professional certifications by acquiring CEU’s through educational classes, attending seminars/symposiums, online webinars, etc.

HTM Associations help facilitate the certification processes as well as create an environment for education, networking, and collaboration among HTM professionals. Many HTM associations put on symposiums where vendors and instructors provide educational classes to the attendees. The purpose is to stay current on trends and information as well as share information within the field. There’s also the added benefit of accruing CEU’s towards re-certification.

The CABMET annual symposium takes place every year in August, and we invite all those interested in the advancement of Biomedical Equipment Technology to attend.

The end goal is the improvement of patient care. Everything we do is for the benefit of the patients we serve.

Potential Career Paths

Hospitals are big and have many types of equipment and lots of them, not to mention that multiple hospitals have more than 1 site! A biomed can be very general or become more specialized. Like other industries, there is also lots of vertical space in the job market.

Biomedical Job Types

The below excerpt was taken from: Journal of Clinical Engineering :: American College of Clinical Engineering :: Clinical Engineering Division; Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Jr. BMET: Biomedical Equipment Technician I
An entry-level or junior BMET. Works under close supervision. Performs skilled work on preventive maintenance, repair, safety testing, and recording functional test data. Not certified. Usually has less than four years of experience.

BMET: Biomedical Equipment Technician II
A BMET who usually has an AS (2-year) degree or higher and several years of related or equivalent experience. Has good knowledge of schematics and works independently on repairs, safety testing and preventive maintenance (PM). Maintains records, writes reports, and coordinates outside repairs. Average experience is eight years.

Sr. BMET: Biomedical Equipment Technician III
A highly experienced or specialized BMET usually having an AS (2-year) degree or higher. Has substantial experience and may be certified (CBET). Does highly skilled work of considerable difficulty. Has comprehensive knowledge of practices, procedures, and types of equipment. Average experience is twelve years.

Equipment Specialist: Lab Equipment Specialist (LES) or Radiology Equipment Specialist (RES)
A highly specialized BMET having special training, or equivalent experience in lab equipment (LES) or radiology equipment (RES). Usually has an AS (2-year) degree or higher. Performs highly skilled work of considerable difficulty and many hold certifications as CLES or CRES.

BMET Supervisor
A BMET who supervisors others. Has a significant amount of training or education or equivalent experience. Most have a BS (4-year) degree or higher. Schedules and assigns work to subordinates, but also continues to do highly skilled repairs. Has comprehensive knowledge of practices, procedures, and types of equipment. Average experience is thirteen years.

Clinical Engineer
A graduate engineer holding a BS, MS or PhD. Performs engineering-level work of considerable difficulty. Has the ability to modify devices, and do analysis of devices and systems.

Director/Department Manager
Most are educated or experienced as clinical engineers (CE) or BMETs, but others may be trained in administration or business or have extensive healthcare supervisory experience. Most have a significant amount of technical or management experience, and have the skills to select high-tech equipment, and acquire, maintain, and repair equipment. Supervisors BMETs, CEs and support personnel. May also be the Chief Technology Officer or Vice President for Healthcare Technology.

Related Careers

The below excerpt was taken from: Journal of Clinical Engineering :: American College of Clinical Engineering :: Clinical Engineering Division; Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 

Clinical Engineer
A Clinical Engineer is a professional who supports and advances patient care by applying engineering and management skills to healthcare technology. Clinical Engineers manage personnel, finances, instrumentation and projects to promote the safe and cost-effective application of technology. Such a person while having an administrative function also participates professionally with physicians, nurses, administrators, and other personnel of a healthcare facility. The preparation requires at least a 4-year degree (Bachelor of Science) in engineering with significant knowledge in physiology, medicine, and clinical care of patients. Clinical Engineers are heads of most clinical/biomedical engineering departments of healthcare facilities. Clinical Engineers who work in a healthcare facility are sometimes also referred to as Biomedical Engineers.

Biomedical Engineer
A Biomedical Engineer applies electrical, mechanical, chemical, optical, and other engineering principles to understand, modify, or control biologic (i.e., human and animal) systems, as well as design and manufacture products that can monitor physiologic functions and assist in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. The Biomedical Engineer usually works in a corporate or university setting in the design and development of devices applicable to living organisms. The preparation requires at least a 4-year degree (Bachelor of Science), although most Biomedical Engineers in university settings hold a post-graduate degree.