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Biomedical Equipment Technician

Biomedical Equipment Technician

Education and Training: High school plus training

Salary: Median—$17.90 per hour

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Biomedical equipment technicians specialize in the use, maintenance, and repair of medical equipment such as heart-lung machines, dialysis machines, medical imaging machines, and defibrillators. Unlike electrocardiograph and electroencephalograph technicians, who specialize in one type of equipment, biomedical equipment technicians are familiar with many different kinds of machines. Biomedical equipment technicians work in hospitals and research organizations. They also work for manufacturers' sales departments and for research and development departments. Most technicians work under the direction of biomedical engineers.

In hospitals, biomedical equipment technicians may become experts at using certain pieces of equipment. Some technicians work in several departments with many different kinds of equipment. Technicians teach nurses, therapists, and other members of the hospital staff to operate the machines. They inspect new equipment to make sure that the machinery operates properly.

Technicians make minor repairs on equipment at the hospital. When equipment must be sent back to the manufacturer for major repairs, they write an analysis of the problem so the manufacturer can fix and return the equipment quickly. Technicians also maintain detailed records on the use and condition of all equipment.

Education and Training Requirements

You need one to three years of training after high school to become a biomedical equipment technician. Training courses are available at junior and community colleges. These colleges generally work closely with local hospitals and medical equipment manufacturers. During the training period, students learn how to operate and repair many different types of medical equipment. After they have completed their formal training, technicians must keep up with new developments in the field.

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation issues certification for biomedical equipment technicians. In order to qualify, technicians must pass a test given by the association. Many employers prefer to hire technicians who have certification.

Getting the Job

Your school placement office can help you find a job. You can also apply directly to hospitals, biomedical equipment manufacturers, and research organizations. Your state employment office may list openings. Also check newspaper want ads and job banks on the Internet for employment opportunities.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Biomedical equipment technicians can become biomedical engineers with at least a bachelor's degree and specialized biomedical training. Biomedical engineers research and design biomedical equipment.

The employment outlook is expected to grow as fast as the average through the year 2014. Research and development expenditures are expected to increase, and the rapid development and wide use of biomedical equipment should increase the need for biomedical equipment technicians. The companies that make the equipment have the greatest need for these technicians. Trained workers will also be needed in hospitals and research organizations.

Working Conditions

Technicians work with highly trained doctors a engineers. They must be able to communicate their mechanical knowledge to others. Most technicians work in or near large cities where medical facilities and companies are located.

Hours vary for technicians depending on where they work. Hospital technicians generally work eight-hour shifts. They may have to work at night or on weekends. Those employed by research organizations or manufacturing companies usually work regular hours.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation
1110 N. Glebe Rd., Ste. 220
Arlington, VA 22201-4795
(800) 332-2264

Biomedical Engineering Society
8401 Corporate Dr., Ste. 140
Landover, MD 20785-2224
(310) 459-1999

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary depending on the employer and the type of work done. The median salary for technicians who service equipment was $17.90 per hour in 2004. Benefits include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans.

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