Job opportunities in bioengineering?

Hi everyone! My question is the following, I am a junior/sophmore working on my bioengineering undergrad BS. I thought that by studying this I would be able to have various job opportunities, but I have read alot of negative opinions towards bioengineering due to the lack of "jobs" for it. I know I am studying in an accredited college, but I am scared that I have chosen the wrong career...I have to look after my family. And the only way I can do that is by knowing there is a chance out there for me....in a certain way.
I realize I might need a masters in biomedical engineering, but the nearest program for such is 5 hours away from where I live, and the other masters are that are offered near by are : computer science, electrical, manufacturing, mechanical , engineering management, and information technology . Are these possible masters a good combination with bioengineering...? Would they broaden my skills? Which one would be best ...I need some advice. My advisor didn't really help....,
posted by Daisy, Texas on November 2, 2012

Answer 1 by Dr. Monique Frize

Bioengineering is a field with good potential. However a Master's would likely add much to your chances of getting a job. I see the fields for a Master's program near you, and although not in biomedical, here is my suggestion:

Information technology would be my choice as many researchers (including myself) are developing clinical decision support systems and most of these are either knowledge based systems or pattern classification, and data mining, using all kinds of software tools that are available, many of them open-source..

I have always had a job in biomedical for just over 40 years and am still involved in research on medical imaging and on clinical decision support. The important matter is having a strong engineering degree and apply it to biomedical problems. Biomedical projects are frequently an applications of some engineering concepts, either electrical or mechanical.

When you finish the B Eng. try to enroll in a Master's that can be applied to solving a biomedical problem and perhaps you could have a co-supervisor from another university who is an expert in that area.. Today with the internet, much long distance work is possible.

Best wishes,

Monique Frize
Distinguished professor, Carleton University, Canada
PS If you go to google scholar and put my name, you will see several of the articles in the fields I mentioned to you.

Answer 2 by Christine Schmidt

Dear Daisy,

These are certainly valid concerns that you raise. Nationally and also here at UT Austin we find that 1/3 of BS Biomedical Engineering graduates go on to graduate school or law school, 1/3 enter medical school, and 1/3 get jobs in industry. Thus, a significant fraction of graduating Biomedical Engineers are going into industry with a BS degree (usually in the medical device industry). Many BME graduates do choose to pursue advanced education (medical school, law school, school of public health, graduate school, etc.); I think this is because BME students tend to have much broader interests. So, I would say that there are good job opportunities at the BS level in BME, particularly if you are proactive during the job search process.

As for getting a masters in a traditional engineering program after getting a BS in BME, that may be tough, since you would not have all of the course pre-requisites for those traditional degree programs. You might be able to do this if you take a few extra background courses. Most students with a BME BS degree go on to graduate school in other BME programs. However, students with ME, CHE and EE degrees go to graduate school in BME programs. If you choose to pursue a BS in a traditional engineering program, then you can always take specialty/elective courses in biology and bioengineering.

Good luck!
Christine