Becoming a Cardiology Engineer: Salary Info & Job Description

About this article
A cardiology engineer's median salary is about $86,950. Is it worth the education and licensing requirements? Read real job duties and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a cardiology engineer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Cardiology Engineer

Cardiology engineering, or cardiovascular engineering, is a subfield of biomedical engineering. Find out the pros and cons of becoming a cardiology engineer to decide if it's the right fit for you.

Pros of Becoming a Cardiology Engineer
Fast-growing field (27% growth for biomedical engineers from 2012-2022)*
High median salaries ($86,950 for biomedical engineers in 2014)*
Opportunity to improve people's lives*
Job opportunities in several different industries*

Cons of Becoming a Cardiology Engineer
Requires at least 4 years of post-secondary education*
Pressure to produce designs under tight deadlines*
Must earn a license (you need four years' work experience to become a professional engineer)*
Long work hours and overtime possible*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Cardiology engineers develop devices and systems that help diagnose or improve the cardiovascular system. This requires knowledge of biology, mechanics, anatomy and pharmacology, as well as an advanced understanding of the cardiovascular system, cardiovascular ailments and common treatments.

Cardiology engineers can find work in research or design. If you work in research, you're tasked with evaluating biomedical technology, such as artificial organs, medical instruments, prosthetic limbs or medicine delivery systems. Working in design could allow you to be more creative, spending your workdays coming up with new designs for medical technology that could be used to control heart functions or improve imaging capabilities of the cardiovascular system.

Some of your daily job duties could include installing and adjusting biomedical equipment, keeping maintenance records for biomedical equipment, drafting design blueprints, testing equipment for safety or training people to use biomedical machines. You might also conduct research with other scientists or analyze new medical procedures.

Salary and Career Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biomedical engineers, including cardiology engineers, earned a median annual wage of $86,950 in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The highest-paid engineers in this specialty can earn over $139,000 per year, while the lowest paid could take home $53,000 or less. If you want the best salary possible, look into jobs in medical equipment manufacturing, scientific research or pharmaceutical manufacturing, which are the highest-paying industries for biomedical engineers.

Cardiology engineers are projected to see faster than average growth in the field (27% from 2012-2022), due to the aging population. Additionally, professionals in this field will benefit from the demand for new, more efficient, safer medical technologies or technologies that can be automated.

Know the Requirements

Education

You usually need a graduate degree in biomedical engineering to get jobs in this field; however, it's possible to find work if you have a bachelor's degree and a license. In fact, some bachelor's degree programs are 5-year, professional degree programs meant to prepare you to enter the workforce as soon as you graduate. At the graduate level, you could pursue a Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the field. M.Eng degree programs typically equip you with the practical professional skills needed to succeed in the workplace, while Ph.D. programs commonly focus on research and publication.

If you want to work in cardiology, look for programs that off a specialization in cardiac engineering or have faculty who are experienced in this area. Specialties in cardiac engineering may be combined with neuroengineering and include classes like electrophysiology, electrocardiology and electrical stimulation.

Licensure

All states require you to have a license to work as a biomedical engineer. Before you can sit for the licensing exam, you need to have earned a postsecondary degree from a school accredited by the ABET (the engineering program accrediting board), as well as at least four years of relevant work experience. Earning a professional engineer (PE) designation requires you to complete a 2-part exam. The Fundamentals of Engineering exam can be completed after undergraduate graduation and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam after accruing 4 years of experience.

Skills

Because engineers often work as part of a team, they must be able to collaborate with many kinds of professionals, including medical scientists, physicians or engineers from other disciplines, such as mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. Problem-solving and strong analytical skills are often beneficial, since the major responsibility of this job is identifying a medical need and designing an engineering solution.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Below are some examples of job postings found in March 2012:

  • A healthcare company wanted an invasive cardiology - lead systems software engineer with a bachelor's degree in engineering and five years of experience. This company preferred candidates with a master's degree who were proactive about seeing projects to completion and meeting tight deadlines.
  • A company that developed cardiac diagnostic technology sought a lead quality engineer with a bachelor's degree and 3-5 years experience in an FDA-regulated device manufacturing company. Other qualifications included experience with FDA medical device regulations and demonstrable experience working with electrical circuits.
  • A company that developed heart and blood imaging technology wanted an engineer to test, design and analyze its imaging technology. This employer would consider candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree and no experience, but preferred those who understood fluid dynamics and statistics.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Engineers-in-training usually work under the supervision of an experienced engineer. Performing well in this position could help you network or earn a good recommendation. You might also be allowed to work on projects that are more complex, take on more responsibility or make decisions.

Get Involved

Additionally, you could earn a professional certification or join a biomedical engineering organization. For example, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, along with the International Certification Commission offers certifications for clinical engineers and biomedical equipment technicians. You could become a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), a professional organization that offers opportunities to publish research and network with other professionals in the field.

Other Career Options

Health and Safety Engineer

If you are interested in engineering but don't want to create machines, you could work as a health and safety engineer. In this position, it's your job to use engineering principles to reduce safety risks by recommending preventative measures and evaluating hazardous conditions. Health and safety engineers earned a median annual salary of about $75,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. As in other engineering specialties, you can get this job with a bachelor's degree, but a graduate degree may be preferred.

Cardiologist

Alternatively, if you are interested in cardiology, but don't want to be an engineer, you could pursue a career as a cardiologist, which is a physician specializing in cardiology. To find a job in this field, you need to earn a Doctor of Medicine and complete a subsequent residency in your field, which can often add up to eight or more years of education beyond an undergraduate degree. However, physicians and surgeons earn relatively high salaries; the average wage was about $185,000 per year in 2011, according to the BLS.

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise

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American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Bachelor: Health Science
  • Medical Assisting Certificate

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Keiser University

  • RN to BSN
  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

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Virginia College

  • Certification - Medical Assistant

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Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

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Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

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