A Medical and Technical Career Combined
Biomedical equipment technician may not be a job you’ve heard of or are familiar with but it is an important behind-the-scenes job that keeps hospitals running smoothly. Imagine for a moment the MRI in the hospital malfunctions or a ventilator doesn’t work…who fixes it? That’s where biomedical equipment technicians come in. They are the individuals who are trained to fix medical equipment when it breaks or malfunctions. Just like any other medical career, their job projections are rising to meet the demand of the increased health care necessary for the baby boomers.
However, for the moment, this career field is relatively small, there’s only an estimated 30,000-50,000 technicians nationwide. Biomedical equipment technicians did not even exist until the mid-1960s and early 1970s, it was created in a response to the concern for patient safety with the new electrical equipment that was being used in hospitals. Now electrical safety is no longer an issue but the technology being used has become so complex it needs trained professionals to be able to check for proper performance and to be regularly maintained.
Being a BMET also has impressive job security. Most people stay in a technical job for 13 months but 52% of survey respondents in the trade magazine 24×7 report having been with their employer for 16 or more years, according to TechCareers: Biomedical Equipment Technicians. Starting salaries for entry level BMETs in 2007 were from $32,000 to $42,000 annually, however larger hospitals usually have higher pay scales. After three to five years of experience, BMETs usually make from $42,000 to $50,000 annually.
Being a BMET also has different career paths to follow. There is advancement to different levels, BMET I, BMET II, BMET III, or the technician can choose specialization in different fields like radiology or anesthesia. The completion of a four-year degree also can open up management opportunities which can pay over $100,000 annually.
Some of the job duties of BMETs include maintain, adjust, calibrate and repair the medical equipment used in healthcare facilities. They check the equipment for proper operation and safety using many types of test equipment. They also use common test equipment such as digital volt meters, oscilloscopes, and photo tachometers to troubleshoot and diagnose equipment problems, according to TechCareers: Biomedical Equipment Technicians. As well as using preventative maintenance, BMETs also teach hospital staff proper use and safety of equipment. Beginning BMETs typically do mostly preventative maintenance on equipment instead of repairs but as they get more experience, they’ll do more repairs than maintenance. BMETs who stay with an employer for more than a year may also find themselves being sent for specialized training for a new piece of equipment and when they return will be considered the residential expert on that equipment. They will be required to teach other BMETs the maintenance and repair necessary for the equipment.
Customer service is one of the most important aspects of a biomedical equipment technician career. Ultimately the customer is the patient but BMETs will mostly be dealing with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who use the equipment. Even if the equipment has been repaired and sent back if the customer isn’t satisfied then the job isn’t over.
BMETs typically work a 40-hour week, occasionally being on-call for after hours and on the weekends. BMETs get paid extra for on-call work and it is usually rotated between resident BMETs.
Because biomedical equipment technicians is in both the medical and technical fields there are some skills that are necessary for their job. BMETs needed to be skilled in electronics, anatomy and physiology/medical terminology, computers and computer networking, troubleshooting, medical equipment, safety, customer service and people skills.
To become a BMET, degrees like bachelor of applied technology, bachelor of applied science and technology, or bachelor of applied management can be used with an associate of applied science degree to qualify for employment. These degrees are being called “inverted” degrees, and they are the fastest and least expensive way to a four-year degree. For BMETs interested in supervisory and management positions, a four-year degree is usually necessary however.
Some useful websites for obtaining a job as a BMET are www.adel-lawrence.com, www.dickberg.com, www.emcon298.com, and www.bmets-usa.com. These are recruiting websites that are looking for BMETs for their clients. They list job opportunities and availabilities at different locations as well as keeping your resume in the system for possible employers to look over.