What Does a Medical Engineer Do? (Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published January 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Medical engineering in an innovative career path that combines the fields of engineering and medicine. The primary goal of a medical engineer is to apply engineering principles to the healthcare industry for researching and developing treatments, techniques, and tests for medical advancement. You can decide whether this career path is suitable for you by learning about the various options available in medical engineering. In this article, we answer "what does a medical engineer do," provide examples of medical engineering careers with their average salaries and primary duties, and answer a few frequently asked questions about medical engineering.

What does a medical engineer do?

If you're intrigued by the field of medical engineering, you may ask, "what does a medical engineer do?" Medical engineering offers a wide range of opportunities and specializations, including robotics, equipment management, clinical engineering, research, mechanics, biology, and manufacturing. Each field involves a unique work environment, like hospitals, government agencies, manufacturing facilities, and research labs. The responsibilities of a medical engineer can involve evaluating medical devices, advising hospitals and medical centres on new equipment, and improving medical technologies.

A significant part of a successful career in medical engineering or in a similar profession involves having one or more of the following skills:

  • Attention to detail: This is the ability to complete tasks with great attentiveness to every aspect of the project. With great attention to detail, people can find and correct errors within various projects, both large and small.

  • Critical thinking: This skill can help you recognize problems and effectively apply solutions. Critical thinking involves knowledge of a wide selection of subjects with the ability to comprehend and interpret those topics.

  • Teamwork and leadership capabilities: This is the capability to accomplish objectives as a team by using each other's strengths and weaknesses to work towards the same goal.

  • Creativity: Creativity involves using your imagination to create ideas that can offer solutions. Creativity is very beneficial to professionals that create and design materials regularly.

  • Analytical thinking: This is the ability to identify and define problems while extracting vital information from data and developing solutions. With analytical thinking, individuals can approach setbacks as learning opportunities.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Medical engineering careers

A career in medical engineering can be very rewarding for people who are enthusiastic about both medicine and engineering. Here are some examples of careers you can pursue within the field of medical engineering:

1. Mechanical engineer

Average salary: $66,405 per year

Primary duties: A mechanical engineer performs tasks relating to research, design, and the development of machinery and ventilation, transportation, processing, and power generation. They may also carry out tasks related to the installation, operation, and maintenance of multiple mechanical structures. Typically, mechanical engineers work in offices with occasional visits to work sites. These professionals may work in the line of engineering services, research facilities, and manufacturing sectors.

Read more: How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

2. Bioprocess engineer

Average salary: $80,481 per year

Primary duties: A bioprocess engineer oversees, designs, and troubleshoots equipment in the biotech industry. They solve problems using biological processes involving bacteria, enzymes, and biochemical products. A bioprocess engineer may work for a pharmaceutical company, research laboratory, or alternative fuel manufacturer. Through bioprocess engineering, people can use biotechnology to produce high-quality bio-products in large volumes at a low cost.

3. Independent consultant

Average salary: $59,687 per year

Primary duties: In medical engineering, independent consultants offer guidance and recommendations to medical organizations and research institutions. Their input can influence the execution of processes, what types of equipment to use, and key decisions like how to organize materials. Biomedical consultants may work with a multitude of companies for both long-term and short-term periods.

4. Software engineer

Average salary: $77,489 per year

Primary duties: The role of software engineers in medical engineering is to design and create computer programs for different medical applications. The software they produce may be to display and manipulate data for medical personnel to view and analyze. Software engineers are also responsible for writing, debugging, and testing programs that direct computers to accomplish specific tasks, such as saving information and making calculations.

5. Researcher

Average salary: $25.09 per hour

Primary duties: A researcher makes observations, performs tests, and documents all levels of medical, scientific, and technological findings for the advancement of various industries. Some of their responsibilities include identifying analysis objectives, devising strategies for continual research, and setting budgets for a multitude of projects. Researchers in medical engineering specialize in aspects of biological systems such as human and animal health. They may work with a team of scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals.

6. Quality engineer

Average salary: $65,130 per year

Primary duties: Medical quality engineers test medical devices, equipment, and products to ensure they meet certain specifications. They may make technical modifications and give comprehensive suggestions for equipment and software revisions. Some additional examples of a quality engineer's responsibilities include developing prototypes, creating guidelines, and assessing manufacturing standards.

7. Physician

Average salary: $255,369 per year

Primary duties: People with medical engineering backgrounds may advance their careers by going to medical school to become physicians who can diagnose and treat illnesses. A physician, also known as a doctor or medical physician, is a professional who practices medicine. Some of their primary duties involve examining patients, collecting medical histories, prescribing medications, advising people on nutrition and personal hygiene, and performing diagnostic testing. A career as a doctor can be very rewarding, as these types of professionals advocate for the wellbeing of their patients and their families.

8. Medical technologist

Average salary: $34.82 per hour

Primary duties: A medical technologist, or med-tech, is a health professional who runs laboratory analyses on a variety of biological samples. The studies that a med-tech performs can help diagnose specific diseases. Among their responsibilities are conducting blood tests, documenting findings, and preparing samples for testing. A medical technologist can work in many locations, such as clinics, labs, hospitals, universities, and research institutes.

9. Engineering technician

Average salary: $30.71 per hour

Primary duties: An engineering technician works with a team of engineers and technologists to complete their daily tasks. Together, they work through obstacles and conduct various technical procedures. Some of their primary duties include data collection, equipment assembly, conducting tests, and taking notes on test results. Engineering technicians typically work in research labs, healthcare facilities, and factories.

10. Medical assistant

Average salary: $20.88 per hour

Primary duties: Medical assistants work closely with physicians and healthcare administrators to enhance workflow and efficiency. Their primary duties include taking notes, recording patient history, assisting with medical examinations, and preparing patient rooms. A medical assistant works in medical facilities such as in a hospital or a physician's office. There's overlap within the career for performing both administrative and clinical tasks. While assisting doctors with examining patients, a medical assistant may measure vitals, draw blood, arrange medical instruments, remove stitches and staples, change wound dressings, or call in prescriptions.

Medical engineering FAQs

Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers about medical engineering:

How can you advance your medical engineering career?

Medical engineers can pursue various fields, such as in-depth engineering, science, technology, and biomedicine. If you're interested in advanced technology and engineering, there are multiple avenues you can pursue, like data engineering, chemical engineering, or environmental engineering. With an interest in chemistry and physics, you can investigate the field of biochemistry or biophysics.

Related: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

Why is medical engineering important?

As you understand what a medical engineer does, you may ask about the importance of the career. Medical engineering has the potential to create solutions to worldwide issues, like helping people receive top-quality care with little to no cost. The combination of biology, physiology, mechanics, and engineering can advance medical technology and increase the quality of life for individuals with long-lasting health conditions. This field of study also provides the opportunity to discover treatments for diseases that are currently both known and unknown.

Related: How to Become a Physiologist

Is medical engineering the same as biomedical engineering?

Biomedical engineering and medical engineer both apply the principal concepts of medicine and biology to enhance the healthcare system. A biomedical engineer is another way to describe a medical engineer. Employees within the industry are essential representatives of the medical care practice.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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