Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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The nationwide base salary for certified biomedical equipment technicians is about $20 per hour. Is this worth the education and certification requirements? Read job postings from real employers and learn the truth about the requirements and job outlook for this profession to decide if it's right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician

Biomedical equipment technicians, also known as medical equipment repairers, are responsible for performing maintenance on devices that are necessary for patient care. Following is a list of more pros and cons that may help you decide whether or not working as a biomedical equipment technician is suitable for you.

Pros of Becoming a Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician
Can get job with high school education*
Great job growth (30% projected from 2012-2022)**
Can get certification in a specialty area to stand out**
Opportunity to repair equipment that can help save lives**

Cons of Becoming a Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician
Typically requires traveling long distances**
Usually required to be on-call for night and weekend shifts**
Job may be stressful due to the demand for making urgent repairs**
Potential of being exposed to diseases when working near patients**

Source: *Job postings from November 2012, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

As a biomedical equipment technician (BMET), you may work on devices for specific medical specialties or on a variety of devices. Your work hours will primarily be spent in the field in settings such as doctor's offices, diagnostics imaging centers, laboratories and hospitals. Some of your responsibilities may include calibrating and testing parts, using specialized software to identify and diagnose problems, performing preventative maintenance, replacing defective parts and instructing medical staff on how to use equipment. Some common types of equipment you may work on include electronic wheelchairs and hospital beds, X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound machines, defibrillators and patient monitors.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals were expected to have a much-faster-than-average employment growth of 30% from 2012-2022. Some reasons for this significant job growth were the increasing complexity of medical equipment, recurring changes in technology and the rising number of elderly persons in need of healthcare. The BLS also noted that candidates with an associate's degree in a related field (and especially those who are open to relocation) are likely to have the most favorable employment opportunities. According to PayScale.com, the national wage for most certified BMETs was about $15-$29 per hour, as of December 2014.

What Are the Education Requirements?

Although a degree in not mandatory to work in this field, most of these professionals complete an associate's degree program in biomedical equipment technology or engineering, according to the BLS. For those who work on less complicated equipment, such as electronic wheelchairs, formal education may not be required. To become a certified BMET, you typically need to complete a formal training program and have relevant work experience. In most instances, your employer will pay for the certification exam fee, according to the BLS.

You may become certified through professional organizations such as the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). Through the AAMI, you may obtain the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET), the Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES) or the Certified Radiology Equipment Specialist (CRES) designation. The AAMI offers several options in which you may become certified. You may become certified by completing a biomedical associate's program and having two years of experience as a BMET, having an electronics technology associate's degree and three years of full-time BMET experience, completing a military BMET program and two years of full-time work experience or having four years of full-time experience as a BMET. To maintain your certification, you must pay your renewal fees and accumulate at least 15 continuing education points every three years.

Job Postings from Real Employers

For most positions, employers look for candidates with at least two years of experience repairing medical equipment. Most employers also require that applicants have an associate's degree. The base starting salary offered by most employers was around $20 per hour. Below are job postings for BMETs that can help you better understand what real employers were looking for during November of 2012.

  • A U.S. Air Force Base in Nevada sought a certified candidate with an associate's degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering and at least two years of experience as a BMET. The candidate must have the capacity to meet physical demands such as being able to lift and carry equipment weighing at least 40 pounds, be on feet and work in awkward positions for a long time and pass a color vision test. This employer was offering about $20-$25 per hour.
  • A hospital in Ohio wanted to hire a candidate to perform maintenance and train staff how to use equipment. The candidate must have an associate degree or two years of experience in a related field. The employer preferred to hire a candidate with a CBET designation. This employer was offering an hourly wage of about $19-$22.
  • A medical care company in San Antonio, TX, was looking for an entry-level BMET with at least six months of relevant work experience. The minimum qualification requirement was a high school diploma or GED. However, the employer preferred someone with an associate's degree in electronics or biomedical equipment technology. The employer also required this candidate to obtain national certification within 18 months of employment.
  • A healthcare equipment services company in New York wanted to hire an intermediate-level BMET who had at least three years of experience in the field. The position required an associate's degree in a related discipline or relevant military training. This employer preferred candidates with a CBET credential.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Since most employers expect job applicants to have an associate's degree, you can stand out by completing a bachelor's program in a related major. Relevant programs include a Bachelor of Science in biomedical equipment or biomedical engineering technology and/or a Bachelor of Science in electrical or electronics engineering. You can also show employers that you have specialized knowledge in your field by obtaining the CRES or the CLES designation instead of or in addition to the standard CBET credential.

You can also gain a competitive advantage by joining a local biomedical association for your state of residence or employment. Several states offer benefits to biomedical technicians and engineers who qualify for membership. Some of these benefits include access to educational programs and networking social events. Some associations may require that you have at least an associate's degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering, plus work experience to gain membership.

Alternative Careers

Computer or Office Equipment Repairer

If you enjoy fixing things, but don't want to work in the healthcare field, you might consider becoming a computer or office equipment repairer. You are not required to have a degree, but employers require that you have knowledge of electronics. Most professionals in this field complete a vocational certificate or degree program.

Some of your duties may involve repairing or replacing computer motherboards, monitors and network cables, cleaning and fixing printers and copiers, using tools to diagnose problems and traveling to client locations for service appointments. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median salary of about $36,000. In the decade of 2010-2020, the BLS also reported that employment for these professionals was expected to increase at a slower-than-average rate of seven percent.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

If you enjoy working with medical equipment, but don't want a career that focuses on making repairs, you may consider becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer. In this role, you will be responsible for analyzing images to make preliminary diagnoses, identifying abnormal images, maintaining equipment and recording diagnostic results. To work in this field, you typically need to complete a certificate or associate's degree program in sonography.

You may also gain employment with a degree in radiologic technology or nursing. The BLS found that most employers tend to hire candidates who have a professional certification. In addition, some states may require you to become licensed. As of May 2011, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median wage of approximately $65,000. The BLS also reported that these professionals were expected to have a 44% job increase from 2010-2020.

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