How to Become a Biomedical Technician in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a biomedical technician. Learn about job duties, education requirements, employment outlook and certification to find out if this is the career for you.
What Does a Biomedical Technician Do?
Biomedical technicians are hands-on workers who fix and maintain medical equipment, such as diagnostic imaging machines, defibrillators and operating tables. They may also be responsible for installing, calibrating and testing new equipment. In these cases they often have to instruct users on how to operate the new equipment. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.
|Degree Required||Associate's degree; bachelor's degree for complex equipment|
|Education Field of Study||Biomedical equipment technology, biomedical engineering|
|Key Responsibilities||Install, maintain, repair biomedical equipment in medical settings; instruct users on equipment; maintain equipment records operation|
|Certification||Certification optional but recommended; specialty certifications available|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4% (for all medical equipment repairers)*|
|Mean Salary (2018)||$52,710 (for all medical equipment repairers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What Is a Biomedical Technician?
Biomedical technicians, also known as medical equipment repairers, install, inspect, repair and calibrate biomedical equipment used in hospitals and clinics. They use various measuring devices to identify the source of malfunctions, disassemble equipment, repair loose connections and replace defective components. They also make adjustments, lubricate moving components, clean equipment and perform other acts of preventive maintenance. In this role, you'd likely attend seminars sponsored by equipment manufacturers, study manuals, maintain records on repairs and upgrades and demonstrate the proper use and care of equipment to medical staffers.
Step 1: Prepare in High School
The subjects you study in high school can provide a base of knowledge that you can adapt to the work of a technician. Shop classes and electronics courses have the most relevance. Courses in algebra, trigonometry, physics, biology, computers and English are very helpful as well. If you're already a high school graduate, you can build this knowledge while working toward an associate's degree - outlined in the next step.
Step 2: Earn an Associate's Degree
A wide assortment of community colleges and private schools offer 2-year associate's degree programs in biomedical engineering technology. Programs blend classroom instruction, lab work and sometimes onsite study to familiarize you with the devices and equipment most commonly used in medical facilities. Courses are likely to include such topics as basic electrical circuits, digital and computer circuits, communications systems and technical math.
Step 3: Find Employment
In May 2015, about 41,060 people were working as medical equipment repairers, including biomedical technicians, with employers such as hospitals, clinics, medical device manufacturers, wholesalers and equipment rental and repair companies. During the 2018-2028 decade, employment is projected to grow by about 4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Rising demand for medical care, the greater complexity of medical equipment and job turnover will be the main factors driving the increase. As of May 2015, biomedical technicians earned an average salary of $52,710.
Step 4: Obtain Certification
To demonstrate your expertise and commitment to staying current with the technology, consider earning a Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) designation from the Association for Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. You can qualify for the CBET exam in several ways; one such way is to earn an associate's degree in biomedical technology and work for two years as a technician. The exam tests your knowledge of anatomy and physiology, public safety, electricity and electronics, equipment function and problem solving. Certification is good for three years, after which it must be renewed.
Step 5: Consider Earning a Bachelor's Degree
The academic credits you earn in a biomedical engineering technology associate's degree program could apply towards a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering. Having a bachelor's degree affords you more ways of advancing your career. You could become a supervisor or manager or learn how to service the most complex medical equipment, such as computed tomography (CT) scanners, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and defibrillators.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Although they work in medical laboratories and usually not on the hospital floor, medical laboratory technologists operate and maintain laboratory equipment used to analyze medical samples, such as bodily fluids and tissue. Other related careers include the technicians that operate and use the equipment biomedical technicians install and repair. These include radiologic and MRI technologists, diagnostic medical sonographers and nuclear medicine technologists, to name a few.