National Occupational Standard for Biomedical Engineer

Definition of occupation

The Biomedical Engineer (BME) applies engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology to advance diagnostic and therapeutic health care needs. BME is a blanket term and covers many different specializations, some of which are listed below. This competency profile is for the generic BME, not for any of the specializations. Those will be based on this profile, with the addition of any competencies that are required for each specialization.

Within these specializations, BMEs may create products where an in-depth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. Some BMEs design electrical circuits, software to run medical equipment, or computer simulations to test new drug therapies or study the effects of external stimulation or force. Some also design and build artificial body parts to replace injured limbs. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts, design rehabilitative exercise equipment, or work to develop therapies and diagnostics based on the properties of cells and tissues. Conversely, they may work in a purely research capacity where they add to the growing body of knowledge within the biomedical engineering fields.

BMEs typically work with multidisciplinary teams, provide a high level of consultation and involvement, and can serve in a coordinating role in the area of their specialization.

This list shows some of the specializations that BMEs can work in:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Bioinstrumentation
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomechanics
  • Biophotonics
  • Cellular and tissue engineering
  • Clinical engineering
  • Medical or biological imaging
  • Molecular bioengineering
  • Bioelectrical

It is important to note that this role is constantly growing and evolving; therefore, it is not possible to list every specialization or its requisite competencies in this profile. However, BMEs must have a strong understanding of physiological, biological, and/or physical functions and systems in order to be able to succeed in the role.

How to use a National Occupational Standard