How To Address America’s Medical Device Engineer Shortage

Despite great pay and numerous career opportunities, there continues to be a shortage of biomedical engineers. Why is this a concern?

Biomedical engineers are another name for medical device engineers. And because there is a shortage of medical device engineers, the development, production, and introduction of new medical devices that could help thousands of people throughout the world has stalled. This is especially important in America, where an aging population will only increase the demand for new medical devices. And, developing new medical devices that can help people of all ages is an important step in providing opportunities for people to live more fulfilling lives despite potential health challenges.

The Electronic Health Reporter article Dearth of Biomedical Engineers Delaying Medical Advancement said that “biomedical engineers, while not the face of medical research like physicians and surgeons, are integral professionals within healthcare, and without them, we wouldn’t have most of the medical devices and tools in use today. It is imperative that more students pursue credentials in biomedical engineering, so we can continue to advance our medical knowledge.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biomedical engineers “analyze and design solutions to problems in biology and medicine, with the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care.”  In addition, the BLS stated that medical device engineers will see one of the fastest rates of growth in all engineering occupations, with a 23% increase in jobs expected from 2014-2024.

So why is there a shortage of medical device engineers? Especially since these jobs pay well? GlassDoor says the national average salary for a Medical Device Engineer in the U.S. is $96,587. Payscale, another source for salary data, says medical device engineers make an average salary of $72,331 to $145,750 per year pending on experience.

The key, healthcare officials say, is to introduce these careers to students at an early age.

One industry insider says educating students about the career opportunities in medical device engineering before students leave high school would be a good start. Promoting internships with large, well known medical device manufacturers or healthcare organizations is another way to address the labor shortage, and giving engineering students tours of state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities where medical devices are engineered can also help attract engineers to this career path. These jobs are also available in some of the best and most modern medical facilities across the country—which should be another way to attract engineers into the field.

Some colleges are already on board. In 2017 St. Pete College Tarpon Springs in Tarpon Springs, Florida opened a brand new Biomedical Engineering Technology Lab that included state-of-the art medical equipment like medical scanners, infant incubators, and X-ray machines. Hospitals are reaching out to colleges, asking their engineering departments to put greater emphasis on medical device engineering careers, according to this article, where Marvin Bright, Provost of SPC Tarpon Springs said: “Many of the hospitals are coming to us because of high demand to expand our health field. We add career programs when we know there is a high demand for jobs.”

That’s good news for the future because the demand for medical device engineers is not going away any time soon.


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