Bioengineering degrees represent the marriage between engineering and medical science. Bioengineers, also often called biomedical engineers, develop new medical devices and products such as artificial organs and medical imaging devices. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the job outlook for bioengineers is very good, and trending nearly twice the national average for all careers. There are several factors that contribute to job outlook, including education, specialty area and even politics. It's important to consider each factor individually to accurately assess the outlook for your particular set of skills and experience.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, bioengineering as a discipline is expected to have 21 percent increase in employment through 2016. This is much higher than the national average of 9 percent growth. This growth is attributed both to technological advances in medicine and engineering, and to the large number of baby boomers who are starting to increase the demand for quality, innovative medical services. This high growth is expected to attract professionals to the discipline.
Outlook by Specialty
Bioengineers who work in pharmaceutical manufacturing are expected to have the highest job growth. Drugs are being created at a faster rate then ever before and are immensely profitable. Growth in this field is also affected by the rising interest in reducing heath care costs. There are dozens of specialties within bioengineering, but a few that will be in especially high demand include bioinstrumentation, biomechanics and clinical engineering. Bioinstrumentation scientists develop new medical tests and imaging procedures while biomechanical scientists work to develope artificial body parts and organ systems. Chemical engineers work in hospitals, applying technological advances in the health care setting.
Outlook and Education
Bioenginering is unique in that nearly all workers in the field posses a master's degree or higher. Jobs are limited for bachelor's degree level scientists and according to the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center, it will be increasingly hard for those without advanced degrees to find work. Faster than average job growth in any field attracts a large number of candidates to the discipline, making competition for jobs increase across the whole discipline and favoring those with the highest level of education and experience.
Those working in bioengineering fields are some of the most highly compensated scientists in the industry. The median salary for a bioengineer is around $74,000. Top earners bring home well over $100,000 per year. The outlook for earnings is only expected to increase as the demand for highly skilled bioengineers increases. Another factor leading to the positive salary outlook for bioengineers is the amount of education that will be required to secure employment. As in most fields, those with the highest level of education and specialized knowledge earn the highest salaries, and this field is trending toward hiring those with advanced degrees.
Effects of Economy and Politics on Outlook
Politics and the economy have helped increase the demand for bioengineering professionals. For example, political pressure to reduce the cost of medical services has lead to sharp increases in employment for those specializing in medical equipment and supplies. According to The Sloan Career Cornerstone Center, "an increased concern for cost-effectiveness will boost demand for biomedical engineers, particularly in pharmaceutical manufacturing and related industries". Downturns in the economy have also helped spur interest in advances that will reduce health care costs.
Biospace.com: Biotech and Pharmaceutical News & Jobs
United States Department of Labor