Transition to Biomedical Engineering Role

Q: I am eager to enter a new field, specifically biomedical engineering. I have an undergraduate degree in a related field (biology). However, my biology degree is not a perfect match for a biomedical engineering job. Do I have to return to school and earn a second undergraduate degree? This seems like a huge investment when I have some transferable work experience.

A: Congratulations! Your targeted field of biomedical engineering is a growth field and will likely offer tremendous career opportunities. I don’t think you need to return to college and earn a second bachelor’s degree. Instead, I would recommend that you consider exploring a certificate in biomedical engineering. After a quick search online, I found two Massachusetts colleges who offer certificate programs in biomedical engineering. The first college is University of Massachusetts Lowell. It seems that this program is primarily online. The other program I found is offered by Tufts University. Students at Tufts can receive credit for the certificate coursework if they are interested in pursuing a graduate degree at Tufts. Both are reputable colleges with strong biomedical engineering programs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for biomedical engineers is quite strong. Biomedical engineers often work in hospitals, research facilities or manufacturers of specific medical devices or healthcare instruments. The BLS reports the median pay for these roles is around $86,000 per year (2012 data).

One other resource to explore is the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Visit for more information. This site is a wealth of information and offers a job posting section as well.

Your degree in biology will be a solid foundation for your career in biomedical engineering. Good luck on your journey!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.