A biomedical engineering technician installs, maintains, and troubleshoots complicated medical equipment at a hospital or clinical laboratory. He or she is responsible for ensuring medical personnel know how to safely operate different machines and what to do if equipment does not function properly. Some techs specialize by working with particular machinery such as x-ray scanners, but most professionals are skilled at programming and fixing a wide variety of hospital electronics.
While a biomedical engineering tech does not work directly with patients, he or she still plays an important role in their health care. Doctors and nurses depend on modern electronic equipment to help them make accurate diagnoses and provide essential inpatient treatments. A biomedical engineering tech regularly inspects devices to make sure they are in proper working order. Routine maintenance tasks may include testing batteries, checking for damaged or burnt wires, and replacing electronic chips.
When devices malfunction or stop working altogether, a biomedical engineering tech is normally consulted to troubleshoot them. A tech usually follows instruction manuals, schematics, and detailed technical guides when checking parts and diagnosing problems. Most professionals have access to work stations that are stocked with hand and power tools so they can be prepared for any repair job. If a machine cannot be fixed, a tech might submit a purchase request to his or her supervisors.
Techs work with many kinds of medical technology. They set up diagnostic imaging equipment such as computerized tomography scanners and ultrasounds. Techs also perform repairs on such emergency medical equipment as defibrillators and dialysis machines. In addition, many biomedical engineering techs are skilled at working on pathology lab equipment such as microscopes and cell counters.
A person who wants to become a biomedical engineering tech can develop the practical skills needed for the job in a technical or vocational school program. In school, students take courses in electrical theory, math, computers, and electronics design. They also participate in hands-on activities working with various types of medical equipment. Most degree programs take between one and two years to complete, and they culminate in certificates or associate's degrees.
With the proper educational training, an individual can apply at local hospitals, doctor's offices, and medical labs. A new biomedical engineering tech can expect to spend several weeks in on-the-job training to learn about the facility's specific devices and how to obtain work orders, tools, and equipment. Techs usually start working independently within their first six months on the job, and they may have the opportunity to advance to supervisory roles in large hospitals with ongoing experience.