Clinical engineer

Biomedical engineer, bio-engineer

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Clinical engineers design, develop and maintain equipment for diagnosing illness and treating patients.

Salary range: £24,214 to £43,772

How to become a clinical engineer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • go on a specialist training programme run by the NHS

University

You can do a degree to start training as a clinical engineer. Relevant subjects include:

  • electrical or electronic engineering
  • mechanical engineering
  • biomedical science/engineering
  • pure or applied physics
  • applied maths

Your degree should be accredited by the Engineering Council.

After your degree, you can apply for the postgraduate NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). During the 3-year programme, you’ll be employed and study a postgraduate master’s degree at university.

Competition for places on the STP is high, so it helps if you have relevant experience. Try and do some voluntary work in a hospital and get experience of patient contact.

You could also find employment in the private sector and work your way up to chartered engineer status.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths and physics

More information

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through a healthcare science practitioner degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship

More information

Other routes

If you do not have a degree, you could apply for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme.

During the 3-year programme, you’ll be employed and study a degree in healthcare science at university.

You’ll need 5 GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English language, maths and a science subject and at least 2 A levels, including maths or a science to apply.

More information

Registration

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a clinical engineer from Health Careers and Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of physics
  • the ability to read English
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • testing equipment, like walking aids, wheelchairs and speech synthesizers (known as assistive technologies)
  • developing artificial limbs that attach to the patient’s own tissue
  • making artificial joints, heart valves and hearing implants from new materials
  • designing equipment that allows doctors to try new medical techniques, like optical instruments for keyhole surgery
  • management of medical equipment, like scanners, imaging machines and monitoring systems
  • carrying out quality assurance checks to ensure all equipment is working correctly and safely
  • working closely with other medical professionals and technical staff

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital, in a laboratory, at a research facility or in a workshop.

Career path and progression

With experience and further training, you could become a consultant, specialising in particular clinical areas, or move into management, teaching or medical research.

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