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What is biomedical equipment technician?
A biomedical equipment technician (also known as a biomedical engineering technician or BMET) is a specialized professional responsible for installing, maintaining, repairing and calibrating medical equipment in healthcare facilities like hospitals and clinics. They work with complex devices like ventilators, defibrillators, anesthesia machines, infusion pumps and other life-saving equipment.
Biomedical equipment technicians combine their knowledge of electronics, mechanics, software and patient care to ensure medical equipment is in optimal working condition. This is crucial for accurate diagnoses and safe patient treatment. They are an integral part of the healthcare team.
What does biomedical equipment technicians do?
The typical responsibilities of a biomedical engineering technician include:
- Installing new medical equipment and ensuring it meets safety standards. They may need to assemble components or make modifications for proper setup.
- Performing regular preventive maintenance on devices – testing, calibrating, cleaning, adjusting and replacing worn parts. This helps minimize equipment failure.
- Troubleshooting issues with malfunctioning equipment and carrying out repairs. This may involve mechanical disassembly or electronic circuit testing.
- Documenting all maintenance activities and inventory for tracking and compliance purposes.
- Training healthcare staff on how to operate and care for medical equipment.
- Evaluating new technology and providing assistance for procurement decisions.
- Ensuring compliance with state laws, regulations and standards for medical devices.
- Maintaining parts and supplies inventory and placing orders when needed.
- Performing safety inspections of electrical medical equipment.
- Providing 24/7 on-call availability for emergency repairs and support.
They have to be well-versed with a wide range of medical devices and technologies to carry out their responsibilities across radiology, cardiology, IT, laboratory science and other departments.
Biomedical engineering technician job description
A biomedical equipment technician’s job involves a combination of administrative, mechanical and patient care duties.
Their primary role is to maintain the functionality and safety of complex medical equipment. This requires technical skills in electronics, software, pneumatics, hydraulics and optics.
They also have to be detail-oriented in documenting repair histories and following maintenance schedules. Strong communication skills are needed when interfacing with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
As patient and staff safety is dependent on proper device functioning, professionalism and problem-solving abilities are vital for BMETs. They often have to think critically and improvise solutions with limited resources.
How to Become a Biomedical Equipment Technician
Pursuing a career as a biomedical equipment technician can be rewarding for those with an aptitude for electronics, mechanical systems and healthcare technology. Here are the typical steps to start in this field:
Prerequisite to become biomedical equipment technician
- Strong understanding of sciences – biology, physics, chemistry.
- Technical aptitude and hands-on ability for working with tools/machines.
- Logical thinking and troubleshooting skills.
- Detail orientation and record-keeping discipline.
- Good vision, hearing, manual dexterity for fine repairs.
Education required to become biomedical equipment technician
Most employers require biomedical engineering technicians to have an associate’s degree in biomedical technology/engineering from an accredited program. This is a 2-year commitment and combines electronics courses with specialized medical-device training.
Some community colleges and technical schools offer shorter certificate programs in biomedical equipment technology for direct job preparation. These are typically 1 year long.
Aspiring technicians with prior military electronics training can qualify for certain entry-level BMET jobs as well.
What degree do I need to become a biomedical equipment technician?
An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Biomedical Equipment Technology is the standard degree for most biomedical engineering technician roles. This 2-year degree provides a solid base of electronics knowledge along with specialized medical device training tailored to a clinical setting.
Coursework commonly includes classes like:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Healthcare safety codes
- Medical terminology
- Electronics and circuit theory
- Healthcare IT systems
- Medical equipment function and operation
- Healthcare facility management
- Medical imaging technology
- Calibration and certification standards
Some graduates also opt to get a Bachelor’s degree, which can improve career prospects for leadership roles and teaching positions.
Steps to become biomedical equipment technician
Here is a step-by-step overview of how to start your career as a biomedical equipment/engineering technician:
- Earn an associate degree in biomedical equipment technology from an accredited program. Alternatively, get certified through a 1-year biomedical equipment technician program at a community college or technical school.
- Get hands-on training through internships or apprenticeships if possible. This will improve understanding of real healthcare environments.
- Obtain your Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) credential from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). While voluntary, this certifies your competency.
- Search entry-level BMET job openings online, in local hospitals, original equipment manufacturers, third-party repair firms and recruitment agencies. Federal and state government jobs may also be available.
- Highlight your electronics skills, technical certifications and any hands-on experience in your resume.
- Prepare for technical interviews where your troubleshooting aptitude and device knowledge will be evaluated.
- Consider getting additional professional certifications over your career to stay updated on the latest technologies and regulations.
How long does it take to become a biomedical equipment/engineering technician?
The typical timeframe to become a biomedical equipment technician is:
- 2 years for an associate degree in biomedical equipment technology
- 1 year for a certificate program in biomedical equipment repair
- 1-2 years for gaining initial on-job experience as an equipment technician
So the standard route is around 4 years after high school graduation. However, those with prior electronics or engineering military experience can qualify for some entry-level BMET roles faster. The job involves continual learning and certification as medical technologies rapidly evolve.
Biomedical equipment technician salary
Biomedical equipment technicians are in high demand for their specialized skills in maintaining the growing amount of complex healthcare machinery. This is reflected in the attractive compensation they can receive.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for biomedical equipment technicians is $50,020 nationally. The lowest 10% earn less than $34,170 while the highest 10% earn more than $75,270 per year.
Geographic location, education, certifications, facility-type and years of experience impact salaries significantly. Technicians in supervisory or management roles also enjoy higher compensation.
Here is a breakdown of average biomedical equipment technician salaries by state:
|State||Average Annual Salary|
And by metropolitan area:
|City||Average Annual Salary|
Salaries also vary based on type of employer:
|Employer Type||Average Annual Salary|
|Government and public hospitals||$53,700|
|Large healthcare networks||$52,500|
|Independent repair contractors||$51,800|
|Medical equipment OEMs||$48,500|
Newly trained technicians can expect to earn $34,000 to $50,000 starting out. With several years of experience and supervisory duties, salaries can reach over $70,000.
Besides attractive pay, most biomedical equipment technician jobs come with benefits like health insurance, paid vacation/sick days, 401(k) plans and overtime pay. Overall, it is a stable and lucrative career for those with technical aptitude.
Biomedical equipment technician schools
There are over 200 biomedical equipment technician programs available across community colleges, technical schools and even online. Here are some of the top accredited programs:
Best schools for biomedical equipment technician
|Durham Technical Community College||Offers a rigorous Biomedical Equipment Technology AAS degree from its Raleigh campus. Includes paid co-op experiences.|
|Independence University||Accelerated AAS in biomedical equipment and healthcare technology management available online.|
|Brightwood College||Hands-on BMET diploma program across 9 campuses in CA, IN, MD, NV and TX.|
|University of Vermont||Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering Technology program.|
|Cedar Valley College||Biomedical Equipment Technology degree and certificate programs in Dallas, TX.|
|Saddleback College||Biomedical Equipment Technology AAS degree with electronics and physiology courses. Located in Mission Viejo, CA.|
|Kalamazoo Valley Community College||Long-running AAS degree program in Michigan with paid internship opportunities.|
|Chattanooga State Community College||AAS degree in Biomedical Equipment Repair Technology in Tennessee.|
Biomedical equipment technician accredited
For a biomedical equipment technician program to provide adequate career-readiness, it should have accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This ensures standardized curriculum and instructor qualifications are met.
Graduates from CAAHEP-accredited programs qualify to get the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) credential from AAMI. This is an important industry certification.
The U.S. Department of Education also approves select biomedical equipment technician programs. Graduates can apply for federal financial aid.
Biomedical equipment technician colleges
While community colleges offer the most direct path to gain biomedical equipment repair skills through shorter certificate or associate degree programs, some universities provide bachelor’s degree options:
Best Colleges that offer biomedical equipment technician programs
|Weber State University||Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Equipment Technology. Optimize career prep with additional general education courses.|
|University of Vermont||B.S. in Biomedical Engineering Technology. Hands-on medical device training.|
|Pittsburg State University||B.S. in Engineering Technology with a Biomedical Equipment Technology concentration.|
|Arizona State University||B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. Specialize in instrumentation and imaging.|
|University of Iowa||B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a biomechanics track.|
|Milwaukee School of Engineering||B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. Elective courses tailored for industry needs.|
Though not mandatory, a bachelor’s degree allows for more complex biomedical equipment technician or engineering roles, as well as better prospects for advancement to lead and management positions.
Graduate degrees like a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering or MBA can also open up roles in research or executive-level hospital technology management.
Biomedical equipment technician program
A biomedical equipment technician associate degree is the typical route to gain entry-level competency. This is a 2-year commitment. Here is an overview of the curriculum:
- Duration: 2 years
- Format: On-campus or blended online and on-site
- Credits: 60 credits
- Sample courses:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Healthcare Safety Standards
- Medical Equipment Function and Operation
- Healthcare Software and Networks
- Fundamentals of Electronics
- Biomedical Instrumentation
- Medical Imaging Technology
- Internship or Co-op Experience
- Certification: Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree
This direct career-focused program provides the electronics, medical device and healthcare facility management skills needed for most biomedical equipment technician roles.
Practical experience through labs and hands-on practice is emphasized for optimal preparation. Faculty are generally experienced industry professionals.
Credits are transferable for pursuing higher bachelor’s degrees later if desired.
Online schools for biomedical equipment technician
For added flexibility, a growing number of accredited online programs are available to become a biomedical equipment technician:
- Independence University – Offers an Online AAS Degree in Biomedical Equipment and Healthcare Technology Management. Uses virtual labs for simulated hands-on learning.
- Brightwood College – Certificate programs in Biomedical Equipment Repair Technology delivered through interactive online classes.
- Penn Foster College – Earn a Medical Equipment Repair Associate Degree entirely online at your own pace. Approved by CAAHEP.
- Ultimate Medical Academy – Blended online biomedical equipment technology program with in-person clinical rotations.
Online programs allow practicing field technicians to upskill conveniently. However, full hands-on training is still ideal for new students. Look for options that incorporate in-person labs or rotations.
It’s also important the program is accredited and leads to industry-recognized certifications. This ensures quality education.
Can you become a biomedical equipment technician online?
Yes, it is possible to become a biomedical equipment technician through accredited online degree programs that incorporate virtual labs and in-person clinical rotations. These provide the required technical knowledge and hands-on training.
However, on-campus programs are still the most thorough for foundational skills development with more extensive equipment labs. Online is best suited for current field techs looking to advance their careers.
How to become a biomedical equipment technician online?
Here are the steps to become a biomedical equipment tech online:
- Earn an AAS degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology from an accredited online program like Penn Foster College or Independence University. Alternately, get a shorter online certificate.
- Take virtual labs and in-person clinical rotations to gain hands-on experience.
- Obtain industry certifications like CBET from AAMI to validate your skills.
- Search for entry-level BMET openings in hospitals, clinics, OEMs or third-party repair firms.
- Highlight your training, certifications and customer service skills on your resume.
- Be prepared to take practical knowledge tests as part of job interviews.
- Consider a bachelor’s degree online later to advance your expertise.
Advancement opportunities and career paths
Biomedical equipment technicians have various options to progress professionally:
- Lead Biomedical Equipment Technician – Oversee a team of technicians and junior staff members.
- Biomedical Equipment Technology Manager – Manage all maintenance operations for a healthcare facility.
- Clinical Engineer – Interface between technicians and hospital administration for high-level oversight.
- Field Service or Technical Training Representative – Provide installation support and train healthcare staff on using medical equipment for manufacturers.
- Biomedical Equipment Technology Instructor – Teach at technical schools and community colleges.
- Biomedical Engineering/Technology – Further specialize with a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D for R&D and design work.
- Medical Equipment Sales Representative – Leverage your technical product knowledge for sales and marketing roles with equipment manufacturers.
- Healthcare Technology Management – Oversee all facility infrastructure and IT systems with an MBA or healthcare management degree.
- Entrepreneurship – Start your own independent medical equipment repair business.
With additional certifications and education, experienced biomedical equipment techs can take on more senior functionality roles or teaching and consulting positions.
Conclusion: Is a Career as a biomedical equipment technician Right for You?
If you are technically-inclined with an interest in healthcare, becoming a biomedical equipment technician can be a stable and rewarding career choice. As medical devices become more complex, qualified BMETs are in high demand across the country.
Recap of key points:
- Biomedical equipment techs install, maintain and repair medical machinery like ventilators, defibrillators, anesthesia systems, imaging equipment and more.
- An associate degree in biomedical equipment technology provides the electronics, mechanics and healthcare tech training needed.
- Practical experience through internships is highly valued. Certifications like CBET validate your competency.
- The median salary nationally is over $50,000 with top pay reaching $75,000+.
- Advancement opportunities range from lead tech roles to clinical engineering, training, equipment sales, management and teaching positions.
Resources for further exploration and education:
- Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation – https://www.aami.org/
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs – https://www.caahep.org/
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Biomedical Equipment Technicians – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-equipment-technicians.htm
So if you have strong technical aptitude and want to translate that into building a career in healthcare, becoming a biomedical equipment technician can be a great choice providing job stability, good income and a sense of purpose.