Pros and Cons of Becoming a Biomedical Electronics Technician
A biomedical electronics technician (BMET) is responsible for testing, calibrating, maintaining and repairing biomedical equipment. Before deciding if this is the right career for you, take time to explore the pros and cons of being a BMET listed below.
|Pros of Becoming a Biomedical Electronics Technician|
|6% job growth is expected from 2014-2024, which is roughly the average for all occupations*|
|Technicians may work in nearly any geographic area*|
|Job opportunities are best in rural areas with fewer qualified applicants*|
|Positions are available in several industries, such as equipment wholesale, healthcare and equipment maintenance*|
|Obtaining field certification may advance your career opportunities*|
|Cons of Becoming a Biomedical Electronics Technician|
|Technicians may be exposed to patients or diseases in areas in which they make repairs*|
|Some technicians are required to travel long distances to make repairs*|
|Frequent equipment advancements require technicians to update their skills in order to remain competitive in the field*|
|Good physical stamina is required for biomedical electronics technicians*|
Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Information
Job Description and Duties
A biomedical electronics technician is responsible for testing, calibrating, troubleshooting, maintaining and repairing biomedical equipment in laboratories, healthcare facilities and other personal care institutions. Technicians are also responsible for keeping detailed records on what equipment they repair and calibrate. They may also have to order and replace supplies that cannot be repaired. Biomedical electronics technicians are generally required to be proficient with a wide variety of equipment specific to the institution at which they are employed.
Salary Info and Job Prospects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical electronic equipment technicians, which are listed as medical equipment repairers, made a median hourly wage of about $22 per hour, or approximately $46,000 per year in 2014. This field is projected to grow about as fast as average compared to all occupations. Employment growth can be attributed to the rising demand for health services and an increased complexity in medical equipment.
What Are the Requirements?
Education and Training Requirements
Educational requirements for biomedical electronics technicians vary, depending on the types of equipment and place of employment. Generally, an associate's degree with a concentration in engineering or biomedical equipment technology is preferred by employers. An associate's degree program in BMET provides a background in administrative and technical skills needed for this position. Some courses you might expect to take in an associate's degree BMET program include technical writing, medical electronics, regulations and patient safety, electronic circuits, computer hardware and microprocessor applications. Certification from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation is available for biomedical equipment technicians, though not required for all positions.
Biomedical electronics technicians need to have a firm understanding of electronics and equipment used to repair machinery. They should also have keen dexterity and the ability to stand, crouch and move equipment as needed to perform repairs and maintenance. Additional skills needed to be a biomedical electronics technician include:
- Problem-solving abilities
- Professionalism to patients and other staff
- Good computer skills
- Effective written and verbal communication skills
Job Postings from Real Employers
Due to the technical complexity of equipment used on-the-job, employers generally look for candidates with at least two years of experience in a related position in addition to an associate's degree. Some employers state that BMET certification is required or preferred, which is available through the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. The following job postings found in May 2012 show job requirements from real employers:
- A medical equipment supplier in Pennsylvania requires a technician who is able to repair and troubleshoot digital, microprocessor-based circuitry, linear and operational amplifier equipment.
- A healthcare service company in California needs a technician who is familiar with a wide variety of equipment and is able to remain current with emerging technology and industry standards.
- Another medical supplier located in Washington is looking for a technician who has good computer skills and general data entry skills.
How to Stand out
Because most employers require an associate's degree, you would benefit from pursuing a degree in engineering or biomedical electronics technology. These degree programs focus on the specialized electrical competency needed for the profession. Additionally, because many biomedical electronics technician positions require an associate's degree in addition to field experience, you may benefit from pursuing an apprenticeship position, such as an equipment repairer.
Some biomedical electronics technician employers require BMET certification, while other employers prefer it. By obtaining certification, you show prospective employers field competency outside of a formal degree program. Prerequisites for BMET certification through the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation include an associate's degree in biomedical technology plus 2-years of field experience, an associate's degree in electronics technology and 3-years of field experience, 4-years BMET field experience or the completion of U.S. military biomedical technology program and 2-years of field experience. Additional requirements apply to those who do not meet the prerequisites but who still wish to pursue BMET certification. Those who meet prerequisites may pass an exam to achieve certification through the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.
Alternate Career Options
If you don't wish to be a biomedical electronics technician, you might consider becoming a medical and clinical laboratory technician. These workers collect and test various medical samples in hospitals, laboratories, blood banks and other facilities. Technicians are normally required to have an associate's degree or field-specific postsecondary certificate for degree-holders in a different field. Additionally, certification is required for licensure in some positions, depending on specific job responsibilities. Some states require technicians to be licensed. In 2011, medical and clinical laboratory technicians earned a median hourly wage of about $18, according to the BLS. The BLS also expects this job to grow at an average pace from 2010-2020.
Another similar electronic machinery career is a computer, ATM and office machine repairer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this career to grow at a slower-than-average rate from 2010-2020. Workers in this field earned a median hourly wage of about $17 per hour in 2011, according to the BLS. These workers repair, maintain, install and troubleshoot equipment used in modern offices, ATMs and computers. They typically need vocational or technical education in circuitry or electrical equipment to begin their careers.