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Biomedical Engineer vs. Biomedical Scientist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Biomedical engineering and biomedical science are two exciting and challenging career paths. Both professions work to improve human health, but they take different approaches to achieve this goal. If you’re interested in a career in biomedical science or engineering, it’s important to understand the key differences between these two fields. In this article, we compare and contrast biomedical engineering and biomedical science, and we provide information on job outlook and salary expectations.

What is a Biomedical Engineer?

Biomedical Engineers design and create devices and equipment that are used in the healthcare field. This can include developing new medical technologies, such as artificial organs, and improving existing ones, such as prosthetics. They often work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to ensure that their products are effective and meet the needs of patients. Biomedical Engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or a related field.

What is a Biomedical Scientist?

Biomedical Scientists conduct research to develop new treatments and cures for diseases. They use a variety of techniques, including cell culture, animal models, genetic engineering and biochemistry. Biomedical Scientists typically specialize in a particular area, such as cancer, immunology or neuroscience. They often collaborate with other scientists, engineers and physicians to develop new therapies and diagnostic tests. They may also work in quality assurance to make sure that laboratory equipment and procedures meet safety standards.

Biomedical Engineer vs. Biomedical Scientist

Here are the main differences between a biomedical engineer and a biomedical scientist.

Job Duties

While both biomedical engineers and scientists study the human body, their job duties differ. Biomedical engineers use their knowledge of biology and medicine to develop solutions for medical issues. They design equipment and devise methods to improve healthcare. In contrast, biomedical scientists conduct research on biological processes within the human body. Their work often forms the foundation for the work that biomedical engineers perform. While biomedical engineers typically work in offices designing equipment, biomedical scientists may spend a lot of time in laboratories conducting experiments.

Job Requirements

Biomedical engineers typically need to earn a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or a related field, such as mechanical engineering. Some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree or higher. Biomedical engineers might also pursue licensure through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). To become licensed, they must pass two exams, one covering general engineering topics and another specific to their chosen discipline.

Biomedical scientists usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant scientific field, such as biology, chemistry or physics. They might also pursue a graduate degree, such as a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy, to qualify for more advanced positions. Additionally, many biomedical scientists choose to specialize in a particular area, such as immunology or microbiology.

Work Environment

Biomedical engineers typically work in laboratories, research facilities or other settings where they can use their technical expertise to develop new products and technologies. They may also work for private companies that manufacture medical devices such as prosthetics or surgical tools.

Biomedical scientists often work in laboratories, but they may also work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. Some biomedical scientists work for pharmaceutical companies, conducting research on drugs and vaccines.


Both biomedical engineers and biomedical scientists use problem-solving skills in their work. Biomedical engineers typically design products that will solve a problem or address a need facing individuals, families and business owners. For biomedical scientists, one of their primary duties is researching solutions to problems or needs facing the medical field.

An biomedical engineer needs technical skills to perform their job, including circuit design, advanced mathematics, linear systems and analysis and electrical schematics. A biomedical scientist also needs technical knowledge, but they need to know more about biology and how the body works. Both of these professionals need to have the ability to follow safety protocols because they are often working with dangerous materials.

While an biomedical engineer uses communication skills when they are creating reports of their research, corresponding with other engineers and colleagues and developing blueprints for their products, they are not necessarily going to be interacting with customers directly. A biomedical scientist is going to need interpersonal skills because they will most likely be interacting with people on a daily basis while they assist customers with solving issues.


Biomedical engineers earn an average salary of $85,903 per year, while biomedical scientists earn an average salary of $81,989 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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