How much do biological engineers make? (With examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 March 2022

If you have an interest in biology and wish to pursue a career in the scientific field, the career of a biological engineer may be well-suited to you. In this career, you can have the opportunity to design medical equipment that can help patients with injuries or chronic illnesses. It's also useful to understand how much a biological engineer makes and factor this information into your decision to pursue this career path. In this article, we discuss what a biological engineer is, the day-to-day tasks they may perform, their expected salary and the education they can pursue to be successful.

What is a biological engineer?

Before you can learn what a biological engineer makes, it's important to understand what a biological engineer is. Biological engineers are science professionals who use their medical, biological and scientific expertise to innovate healthcare tools, devices, equipment and software. Medical professionals can subsequently use these products and tools to improve the quality of life of patients. Doctors or nurses can use the tools to treat patients, cure illnesses, identify disease, improve the management of injuries and improve how a patient's body functions. These tools can also include artificial organs for transplantation or even prosthetic limbs.

Biological engineers can also implement a variety of technological skills, like operating software and writing code. This may help you to design a new computer programme that is subsequently used in the medical field. You can gather scientific knowledge through training, experience and education or by consulting technical sources that may detail medical procedures.

Related: What does a chemical engineer do? (Duties and skills)

How much do biological engineers make?

The national average salary for a biomedical engineer is €56,377 per year. The salary you typically earn as a biological engineer can vary, depending on the type, size and location of the company or organisation that employs you. It's also possible that employers may choose to increase your pay if you undertake further education and achieve an advanced degree, receive certifications or have extensive experience in this field. Some biological engineers can specialise further and become experts in certain specialities, which can lead to a promotion or salary increase.

Biological engineer salaries vs other engineers

The salary of a biological engineer can change depending on your experience, education, skills and qualifications. There are also other specialisations involved in engineering that may pay a higher salary. These include:

  • Research and development engineer: €43,713 per year

  • Field service engineer: €28,906 per year

  • Engineer: €47,034 per year

  • Validation engineer: €49,945 per year

  • Product development engineer: €48,864 per year

  • Software engineer: €58,736 per year

  • Design engineer: €49,818 per year

  • System engineer: €54,343 per year

  • Mechanical engineer: €51,488 per year

Related: What does an Aeronautical Engineer do? Plus salary

What does a biological engineer do?

A biological engineer can create and improve software or devices that improve the quality of life of medical patients. As a biomedical engineer, you can also work to develop new products or uncover research that enhances medical solutions available on the market currently. These solutions can add to the wellbeing of patients.

Another task that a biomedical engineer can complete is using their technical knowledge to design simulation programmes. They can use these programmes in place of real test subjects, to demonstrate the effects of a medical tool or new drug therapy. Common tasks of biological engineers include:

  • designing and implementing the use of new medical devices, equipment and tools, such as prosthetic limbs and artificial organs

  • creating software that medical professionals can use to diagnose diseases or illnesses, aiding the development of treatment plans

  • providing and maintaining technical support for the tools, devices and equipment produced

  • performing evaluations and assessments of how tools and equipment operate over their lifespan

  • performing safety checks on equipment and diagnostic tools before they arrive with the consumer

  • organising and implementing training sessions with medical staff to demonstrate the use of products and answer any questions they may have about its use

  • liaising with medical teams across a variety of disciplines to provide them with prototypes or demonstration tools before they fully bring them to market

  • drafting research finding reports and publishing them in peer-reviewed scientific journals, presenting their findings orally and drafting proposals for grants

  • researching the biology of humans and animals to create new software, tools and equipment that may improve medical procedures or treatments

Related: What do software engineers do? (Including duties and skills)

Work environment of a biological engineer

As a biological engineer, you can work in a variety of different settings and for different organisations or businesses. These include supply manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, research laboratories and in hospitals. In the manufacturing industry, you may design and develop new products and equipment that you can subsequently distribute to hospitals or medical clinics. By working in a hospital, you can collaborate closely with doctors or other healthcare professionals to create products that may make an effective difference to the wellbeing of their patients.

Biomedical engineers who work in research may focus on achieving advances in biological technology that can lead to the advancement of healthcare devices and tools. This can include discovering new solutions for creating equipment and tools that other manufacturers have not yet brought to market. The work hours of a biomedical engineer or scientist can depend on their individual employment circumstances, but many work traditional hours, Monday to Friday. In some circumstances, your employer may expect you to work longer hours to meet deadlines or complete projects.

Skills necessary to be a biological engineer

As a biomedical engineer, you may have a passion for critical thinking, logical processing, innovation and helping others. These characteristics can add to your success in creating biomedical tools that healthcare professionals can use to achieve medical advancements. There are a variety of skills you can develop that can help you to be successful in the field, which you may gain through experience or education. Common skills include research and data analysis. An affinity for technology and the ability to work under pressure can also be helpful for biological engineers. Other common skills include:

  • analytical thinking

  • data-oriented

  • written communication

  • verbal communication

  • active listening

  • interpersonal skills

  • statistical knowledge

  • knowledge of medical terminology

  • critical thinking

  • problem solving

  • advanced computer skills

  • technical support skills

Specialities available in biomedical engineering

The field of biomedical engineering covers a variety of specialities and skills, some of which may suit your interest more than others. For example, you may wish to focus specifically on researching genetics or creating new tools that can detect disease in patients with cancer. The specificity of your work may depend on your employer and the interests you have. Common examples of biomedical engineering specialities include:

  • Bioinstrumentation. This field implements computer science knowledge and the use of technical electronics to develop new medical devices and instrumentation. These tools can help to diagnose diseases or treat illnesses.

  • Medical imaging. This field uses imaging techniques like X-Ray, ultrasound, MRI and CT to view specific areas of the body. Biomedical engineers in this sector can focus on improving these techniques or developing more modern forms of imaging.

  • Rehabilitation engineering. This field can use tools, technology and equipment to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of patients struggling with physical disabilities. It can help them to perform tasks like walking or eating.

  • Bioinformatics. This field focuses on developing new software formats that medical professionals can use to analyse biological data, like blood samples or tissue biopsies. The software can also help laboratory professionals to interpret subsequent results.

  • Bio-signal processing: This field allows biomedical engineers to develop the diagnostic tools and treatment options for patients based on body signals, like heart rate, brain waves or oxygenation. A biomedical engineer can use these bio-signals to develop new treatments or equipment for patients.

  • Tissue, cell and genetic engineering. This field can give bioengineers the ability to create tools and equipment to treat diseases at a microscopic level. They can also work to prevent diseases at the genetic level with developments in this sector.

  • Clinical engineering. This field allows bioengineers to work alongside hospital staff, obtaining, maintaining and overseeing the implementation of medical software or equipment.

  • Systems physiology. This field allows biomedical engineers to use software systems and computer models to further understand biological functions and the processes of the human body.

This broad range of specialities allows biomedical engineers to focus on their strengths and areas of interest. You may also find there are more opportunities for employment available in certain areas of the sector than others. It may also be necessary for some specialities that you undertake further education, training or certification.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌