What Degree Do You Need To Be A Biomedical Technician?

Biomedical equipment technicians (BMET) or medical equipment repairers work to ensure that patient care equipment is functioning as it should. Their work encompasses installation, preventive maintenance and repair of various kinds of medical equipment like patient monitors, defibrillators, ultrasound equipment, electric wheelchairs and others used in the healthcare setting.

While educational requirements for biomedical technicians differ based on an individual’s work experience and specialization, the most common entry point towards a career as a BMET is an associate degree. This can be in such fields as biomedical equipment technology, engineering, electronics or medical technology. There are also programs that enable students to focus on areas like surgical equipment, imaging equipment and laboratory equipment if they are so inclined. An associate’s degree typically takes two years to complete.

A high school diploma is needed before one can enroll in an associate degree. One of the best ways to prepare for an occupation as a BMET would be to take up courses in science, electronics, math, computers and technology while the student is still in high school. An interest in human anatomy and biology would also be helpful.

Those who plan to focus only on the installation, maintenance and repair of simple equipment like electric wheelchairs and hospital beds may not even need an associate’s degree. Companies can provide on-the-job training for these types of jobs which can last as long as a year. Those who intend to use their skills and specialize in more advanced medical equipment like CAT scanners, x-rays and defibrillators may have to get a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering which typically takes four years to finish. Those who have already obtained an associate degree would do well to check with the school if the program can be credited towards a four-year year bachelor’s degree in order to lessen both the expense and time involved.

After earning an associate’s degree, graduates can apply for jobs. When hired, they are assigned to observe and help experienced biomedical technicians for at least three months. They become more independent as their knowledge of the various equipment increases but they would still be working under the watchful eye of a supervisor. A great deal of self-study is involved in this career because not all medical equipment is the same. They have to read and refer to the technical specifications and operating manual of each device and attend technical training provided by the manufacturers of the medical equipment. As medical equipment technology evolves, BMETs must also constantly keep themselves updated with the new devices introduced in the market. This they can do by actively participating in seminars and conducting diligent self-study of the technologies.

Biomedical technicians can enhance their qualifications by earning certifications. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) provides certification for repairers who want to become Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET), Certified Radiology Equipment Specialist (CRES) and Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLEB). While earning a certification is not mandatory, it is preferred because it shows employers that the biomedical technician is competent and can get the job done. Those who are already working in healthcare settings also increase their chances of getting promoted if they get certified.

Obtaining the necessary degree is just the first component in succeeding in this career. Biomedical technicians need to possess certain skills and characteristics that will help them do their job well. For starters, this occupation requires dexterity and mechanical skills. Hand tools like screwdrivers, soldering irons and wrenches are going to be the common tools of the trade and using them to attach parts requires steadiness of hand as well as excellent coordination of the hands and eyes. A keen interest in the mechanical aspect is required since repairing a piece of medical equipment often necessitates tearing down the entire thing and putting it back together piece by arduous piece.

Biomedical technicians also need to have a penchant for determining where a particular problem lies. In complex pieces of medical equipment, the area that needs to be fixed is often not easily identified. Repairers need to have a talent for finding out which part needs to be addressed even if it does not immediately present itself. Familiarity and knowledge of the internal parts of a particular device and the tools and actions that must be undertaken to fix those that aren’t working properly are traits that all biomedical technicians should possess.

BMETs should understand that medical equipment is needed to save lives and as such every installation and repair job should be done with this sense of urgency in mind. Time management is also a critical skill of all BMETs.

Career Spotlight: Biomedical Equipment Technician

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