The world as we know it has changed considerably due to advancements in technology over the past few decades, and we now live in an environment that our parents and grandparents could never have imagined. This is nowhere more true than in the field of health care; medical care has undergone a complete transformation due to the high-tech revolution of recent years. Because of this sea change, a biomedical equipment technician career will offer some of the best prospects for both good pay and steady employment in the years to come, enabling many people to achieve their dream of obtaining a rewarding, fulfilling medical career in the field without having to become a doctor or nurse.
Nearly all the work involved in a biomedical equipment technician career will take place in a hospital setting, although there are certainly lots of opportunities to work in smaller medical clinics and in the offices of some physicians with larger practices. Job duties will include installing, programming, setting up, calibrating, monitoring, maintaining, and repairing the vast variety of high-tech electronic equipment that has become a veritable backbone of the health-care industry. For ambitious BMETs, one lucrative niche is to become a freelancer. Many smaller clinics, hospitals, and doctor’s offices can’t afford a BMET who is trained on all their equipment, so they rely on freelancers to come in on an as-needed basis. By establishing a network of these clients, BMETs can build thriving businesses of their own.
Without people to set up these machines and keep them running, doctors and nurses would be severely handicapped in their ability to take care of patients. These machines have literally become indispensable since they were introduced, and new ones are being brought to the market each year. The types of equipment a technician might work with include (but are not limited to) telemetry, computed diagnostics, radiographic and fluoroscopic x-ray, gamma cameras, nuclear medicine, medical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, optometry, ultrasound, and mammography.
Because biomedical equipment is a relatively young field, and also due to its technical complexity, until recently there haven’t been many colleges offering specific degrees for a biomedical equipment technician career. In fact, a large percentage of the people now working in the field got their job training the old-fashioned way—they learned it while serving in the military. That’s still one of the more popular ways of embarking on a BMET career, but as demand for trained professionals increases rapidly, more colleges are now offering specific BMET degrees. The number is still small, but growing.
For anyone unable to enroll in a BMET degree program, the second-best option is to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in electronics, electrical engineering, or a closely related subject. Naturally, the higher the level of education possessed, the better the chances of landing a position and starting a biomedical equipment technician career. Acquiring BMET skills by joining the military is still an option, but for many people this isn’t practical, and a college degree may soon become a prerequisite for entering the field. No matter a person’s educational background, passing the Certification for Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) exam will also be necessary to work in the field.
Salaries are excellent for people working in a biomedical equipment technician career, being far above the median income for individuals in the United States. Currently, the average income for BMETs is somewhere around $60,000 a year, but many BMETs make far more than that. According to government projections, job growth in the field is expected to be strong and steady for the foreseeable future, as medicine and health care become ever more dependent on high-tech equipment.