Biomedical Informatics Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career in biomedical informatics? Get job descriptions, and education requirements to see if a career in biomedical informatics is right for you.
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Career Information At a Glance

Biomedical informatics refers to the science of studying computer and medical information in order to improve our knowledge of health and biology. Epidemiology, software developing and postsecondary teaching are all potential careers in this field. Keep reading to find out more and about each of these options.

Epidemiologist Software Developer Postsecondary Teacher
Career Overview Study causes and cures for illness and other public health issues Design various types of computer programs and systems. Conduct research and teach students.
Education Requirements At least a master's degree At least a bachelor's degree Usually a doctoral or professional degree
Program Length 3-5 years for a bachelor's; 1-2 more years for a master's degree; 3-5 more years for a PhD 3-5 years for a bachelor's; 1-2 more years for a master's degree 3-5 years for a bachelor's; 1-2 more years for a master's degree; 3-5 more years for a PhD
Work Experience Varies based on the employer Varies based on the employer Varies based on the employer
Job Outlook for 2012-2022 Average growth (10%) compared to all occupations* Much faster-than-average growth (22%) compared to all occupations* Faster-than-average growth (19%) compared to all occupations*
Mean Salary (2014) $74,120* $106,050* $86,200*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Epidemiologist

As an epidemiologist, you'll typically be responsible for investigating and researching public health issues and diseases. For example, you might study substance abuse, occupational health, child health, oral health, emergency response and chronic illnesses. Common job duties include researching the cause of illnesses, creating prevention measures, operating health programs, collecting data, managing personnel, and communicating with other health professionals and policy makers. You could work for a university, state or federal government agency, nonprofit organization or private company.

Requirements

A master's degree in biology, epidemiology or a related discipline is typically required to become an epidemiologist, although many employers may prefer a PhD. There are also post-doctorate programs available in biomedical informatics that may prove helpful. The number of years of experience that you'll need depends on the employer and the position.

The following are samples of epidemiology positions that were posted online in January 2013:

  • A university medical center in Dallas was seeking an epidemiology nurse to work under an Infection Control Manager. Requirements included a state RN license, an associate's degree in nursing and at least a year of experience.
  • In New York, a nonprofit organization was looking for an epidemiologist and data analyst with four years of experience and a Master of Public Health or Master of Science degree in fields that included epidemiology, bio-statistics or a related discipline.
  • A health company in California was searching for an epidemiology research data consultant with 3-5 years of experience in SQL, SAS and VBA data programming, as well as three years of consulting experience. The ideal applicant would have a bachelor's degree in health care administration, public health administration, economics, finance, statistics or a related field; however, a master's degree was preferred.

Standing Out

Completing an internship may be a solid way to bolster your resume and gain experience in the field of epidemiology. An internship opportunity in this field might provide such opportunities as learning about program evaluation and developing a needs assessment plan. You might be able to prepare for a career in medical research while developing the background you need for medical and/or graduate school.

Software Developer

Some graduates with degrees in biomedical informatics gain employment as software developers. As a software developer, you'll design, create and troubleshoot issues with many different kinds of biomedical informatics-related computer programs. You may also be in charge of instructing software programmers on how to write the necessary code for new or updated software. You'll often collaborate with a team of computer and health professionals and maintain highly detailed records.

Requirements

Although requirements tend to vary greatly, you'll often need a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology (IT) in order to become a software developer. To design specifically for biological software applications, you may also need some postsecondary education in biology, in this case, biomedical informatics in particular. The experience you need to start or even to advance in the field will vary by employer.

Here are a handful of software development jobs that were advertised in January of 2013:

  • A cancer center in New York sought a bioinformatics senior software engineer with five years of software development experience and a master's degree in bioinformatics, computer science or math.
  • In Tampa, FL, a company was looking for a computer science and biomedical research engineer with a master's or doctoral degree in computer science and at least seven years of related experience.
  • Five years experience and a master's or doctoral degree in biology or computer science was required for a bioinformatics analyst position in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Standing Out

Gaining familiarity with different software and hardware operating systems can help display your versatility in software development. Knowledge of Microsoft Windows, Linux and OS X all can be useful. You may also learn software-programming languages like C, C++ and Java, as well as scripting languages, such as Perl, Python and AWK or even databases like MySQL and Oracle.

Postsecondary Teacher

Biomedical informatics postsecondary teachers usually conduct scientific research and work with students, faculty and administrators. You'll develop course curricula, conduct experiments and, in some cases, publish your work. With biology and biomedical informatics as your specialization, there's a fair chance that you'll spend a certain amount of your time working in a university medical research facility or health center.

Requirements

With the exception of certain technical and community college positions, you'll usually need to earn a doctoral degree in order to enter postsecondary academia. Considerable teaching and research experience is usually a plus. To be granted tenure, you'll usually need at least seven years of experience, often in the same institution.

In January 2013, employers listed the following postsecondary positions on the Internet:

  • A university in Michigan sought a senior biomedical neuroscientist and tenure-track professor. Requirements included a doctorate and previous research in stem-cell treatment.
  • In Hoboken, NJ, a technology institute was seeking a full-time, tenure-track biomedical engineering professor with a PhD.
  • In Michigan, a university was hiring an assistant professor in biomedical sciences and anatomy with a PhD in Anatomy or a related discipline. Post-graduate work was preferred.

Standing Out

In order to stand out as a postsecondary biomedical informatics professor, try to have your writing and research findings published in peer-reviewed academic, IT and scientific journals. This can demonstrate to future employers that you have a strong grasp of the field, as well as help you gain respect among your peers. Another way to bolster your resume is with relevant teaching experience, such as working as a TA in a biomedical informatics (or related) course.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Bioinformatics
      • Master of Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
      • Master of Science in Biotechnology
  • Online Programs Available
    2. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
      • MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research
      • MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
      • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • MSHS in Clinical Microbiology
      • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
    Bachelor's
      • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Nursing
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Campus Locations:
    6. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma in Medical Laboratory Assistant
      • Diploma in Medical Laboratory Assistant/Technician
  • Cambridge, MA

    Harvard University

  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. Fortis College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Laboratory Technology

Featured Schools

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Bioinformatics
  • Master of Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
  • Master of Science in Biotechnology

What is your highest level of education?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
  • MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research
  • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Bachelor: Health Science
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

CDI College

  • Diploma in Medical Laboratory Assistant
  • Diploma in Medical Laboratory Assistant/Technician

What year did you graduate high school?

Fortis College

  • Medical Laboratory Technology

Year of High School Graduation or GED completion: