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Biomedical Engineers (GS-0858) – Working for the Federal Government

The biomedical engineer series covers positions managing, supervising, leading, and/or performing professional engineering and scientific work exploring and using biotechnology to:

  • Enrich practices, techniques, and knowledge in the medical, physiological, and biological sciences;
  • Enhance and ensure the health, safety, and welfare of living (i.e., human and animal) systems; and
  • Create and improve designs, instrumentation, materials, diagnostic and therapeutic devices, artificial organs, medical systems, and other devices (e.g., systems, equipment, application programs, and components) needed in the study and practice of medicine with living systems.

Jobs Hunt Hiring

The federal government employs 848 biomedical engineers. The Veterans Administration is the largest employer with 368 followed by the Department of Health and Human Services with 360 and the Department of the Army with 44. A few work for other agencies such as the DOD and Air Force.

Federal Government Requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
  • The yearly salary range for a GS-12 is 75,329.00 to $97,927.00 per year

Occupational Profile:

The following information is excerpted from the Occupational Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor:

Typical Duties:

  • Design equipment and devices, such as artificial internal organs, replacements for body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
  • Install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
  • Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
  • Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of equipment
  • Work with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists to research the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals
  • Prepare procedures, write technical reports, publish research papers, and make recommendations based on their research findings
  • Present research findings to scientists, nonscientist executives, clinicians, hospital management, engineers, other colleagues, and the public
  • Biomedical engineers design instruments, devices, and software used in healthcare; bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures; or conduct research needed to solve clinical problems
  • They often serve a coordinating function, using their background in both engineering and medicine. For example, they may create products for which an in-depth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. They frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.

Biomedical engineers design electrical circuits, software to run medical equipment, or computer simulations to test new drug therapies. In addition, they design and build artificial body parts, such as hip and knee joints. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.

The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on mathematics and statistics to build models to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart.

The following are examples of specialty areas within the field of biomedical engineering:

Bioinstrumentation uses electronics, computer science, and measurement principles to develop devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Biomaterials is the study of naturally occurring or laboratory-designed materials that are used in medical devices or as implantation materials.

Biomechanics involves the study of mechanics, such as thermodynamics, to solve biological or medical problems.

Clinical engineering applies medical technology to optimize healthcare delivery.

Rehabilitation engineering is the study of engineering and computer science to develop devices that assist individuals with physical and cognitive impairments.

Systems physiology uses engineering tools to understand how systems within living organisms, from bacteria to humans, function and respond to changes in their environment.


Prospective biomedical engineering or bioengineering students should take high school science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They should also take math courses, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting or mechanical drawing and in computer programming are also useful.

Bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical engineering and bioengineering focus on engineering and biological sciences. Programs include laboratory-based courses, in addition to classroom-based courses, in subjects such as fluid and solid mechanics, computer programming, circuit design, and biomaterials. Other required courses may include biological sciences, such as physiology.

Accredited programs also include substantial training in engineering design. Many programs include co-ops or internships, often with hospitals and medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, to provide students with practical applications as part of their study. Biomedical engineering and bioengineering programs are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities:

Analytical skills. Biomedical engineers must be able to analyze the needs of patients and customers to design appropriate solutions.

Communication skills. Because biomedical engineers sometimes work with patients and frequently work on teams, they must be able to express themselves clearly. They must seek others’ ideas and incorporate those ideas into the problem-solving process.

Creativity. Biomedical engineers must be creative to come up with innovative and integrative advances in healthcare equipment and devices.

Math skills. Biomedical engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics, as well as statistics, for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Biomedical engineers typically deal with and solve problems in complex biological systems.

GS-0858 Biomedical Engineer (Excerpted from USA Job Announcement)

Basic Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree:  Professional engineering
  • Physical Requirement
  • English Language Proficiency

Grade Determination:

  • GS-12
  • Experience. Completion of at least 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower level; or completion of a post-doctoral research fellowship in the field of biomedical engineering.
  • The biomedical engineer is responsible for the professional and administrative management of a biomedical engineering section in a facility with complexity equal to a secondary care facility. Such individuals typically have responsibility for supervising technical staff including lower level engineers, biomedical engineering technicians, and other staff.

Job Prospects:

The field of biomedical engineering is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024 based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics. There will be a greater demand because of technological advances and the growing need to apply this to medical equipment and devices.

As our population ages, and lives longer there will be greater demand for these devices.  Biomedical engineers work with a variety of other job occupations such as scientists, medical researchers and medical device manufacturers.  Due to the nature of injuries and other physical disabilities there will be great demand these products and services and biomedical engineering can fill this need.

Job Series Titles:(Click on the job title to view job vacancies for government and private sector jobs.) The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.

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About The Author

A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/. Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.