Bioengineering is one of the quickest growing professions out there right now, and it’s a dynamic field which is both challenging and rewarding. If you’re considering getting started with bioengineering, you need to know more in terms of what to expect along the way with your education, your future work and salary opportunities, and more. Use this guide to learn everything you need to know about bioengineering and to help decide for yourself whether or not this might be right for you.
What to Expect from an Bioengineering Program
First, it’s important to make a clarification about bioengineering and biomedical engineering. These are terms which are thrown around loosely, and in many applications, mean exactly the same thing. However, they are not always complete on target with one another, and it’s important to understand the differences.
Bioengineering is short for biological engineering, or even biotechnological engineering. It’s a broad term that represents the application and usage of biology and other sciences and mathematics to solve problems in fields ranging from medicine, science and research, to agriculture, the environment, industry and manufacturing, and more.
Biomedical engineers deal specifically with applying biology towards medicine, and medical innovation. Whether that’s a new tool or system for diagnosis or recognition, or a new medicine that offers a cure or a new opportunity to improve health, or anything else.
Therefore, biomedical engineering is in truth one branch of the overall field of bioengineering. Other branches within bioengineering include bioprocess engineering, genetic engineering, cellular engineering, biomimetics and many more smaller and more specific fields.
A program for bioengineering will of course be heavily rooted in biology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and more. Other courses and topics include pharmacology, immunology, neurobiology, biomechanics, thermodynamics, biocompatible materials, ecological engineering, bioenergy and more.
Ultimately, it’s all about combining the highest levels of biological engineering with the latest technologies. That also means that computers and computer science will be extremely important. Being able to work with and manipulate computer programs to do anything from analyzing the genetic structure of a compound to designing new micro structures, materials and components, to analyzing things on this sort of fine level are all crucial.
Bioengineering is very intellectually taxing and challenging, but that makes the payoff that much greater for someone who is legitimately interested in these topics and areas, and has what it takes to learn, study and understand them to the best of their ability.
Online Bioengineering Degrees
Due to the nature of the work and the hands-on components required for research, study and experimentation, full-time online bioengineering degrees are not going to be very common. This is a field which truly requires you to be in the lab, under the microscope or using your hands, or both, and so forth.
With the continuing evolution and power of computers and the things that online applications can do, many programs are split between offering some level of online instruction combined with lab and training courses. This offers a growing and convenient option to gain more flexibility with your schedule and time.
Job Opportunities for Bioengineers
As mentioned already, bioengineering covers a broad range of disciplines and studies, and therefore, bioengineering students can find a wide range of job opportunities in all sorts of industries. Most bioengineers end up in research and development, although that may be in a medical field for a business, a nonprofit or the government, or it could be in environmental or agricultural fields as well.
There is really no limit to what you accomplish or the exact direction that you can go into. Bioengineering students obtain a unique and important skill set that puts them right in the middle of many aspects of our lives. As such, job opportunities are diverse, plentiful and very exciting, and there’s bound to be something which will be an ideal match for you, and your specific interests and passions.
Is There a Demand for Bioengineers?
To put it bluntly, there is a huge demand for bioengineers. This is a field that’s right at the cutting edge right now in terms of exploding into the mainstream. This is going to be a main focus of the world’s and country’s economy and attention for several decades, thanks to a convergence in growing technology, understanding and research, along with a growing need for new medicines for an aging and growing population, better food supplies, improved environmental conditions, and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2008 and 2018, there is a projected 72% growth rate for biomedical engineering, representing an increase of more than 11,000 jobs. This growth rate is by leaps and bounds the highest of any branch of engineering, and shows how this is a field which is truly on the rise right now.
How Much do Bioengineers Get Paid?
According to the Occupational Employment Survey from the BLS, biomedical engineers command a mean annual wage of $84,780. The upper 25% of the field earn more than $103,500, and the upper 10% of the field earn more than $126,000. All of this means that the earnings levels are great, and the room for growth and even loftier salary levels is great as well.
Of course, not all bioengineers work specifically with biomedical engineering. As mentioned above, these two teams are often used interchangeably but are not always synonymous in application.
Therefore, exact salary levels will certainly differ depending on what exactly you do and where you work. Bioengineers may actually find themselves working in fields such as agricultural engineering, chemical engineering, or materials engineering, and therefore will have salaries on par with those specific fields and specialties instead.
There’s a huge upside to becoming a bioengineer in today’s world. There’s a massive demand for bioengineering students entering the work force, and job opportunities are exciting, diverse and plentiful. Salaries are high, and the potential range of work environments, industries and specialties are also great. It might not be the right career for everyone, but if you have the right interests and strengths, than bioengineering may just be an excellent choice.