What Do Biological Engineers Do

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Biological engineers are responsible for the design and construction of systems that process materials derived from biological systems. They may also work on projects that improve the efficiency of food and beverage production or develop new methods for the treatment of agricultural waste. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those employed as biological engineers earned a median annual wage of $86,220 as of May 2017. The BLS also reported that jobs for biological scientists were expected to grow 19% from 2016-to 2026, which is much faster than the average seen across all occupations. Some of this growth was expected to come from increased demand for organ transplants.

Education & Certification Requirements

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The BLS reports that most biological engineers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering, as well as biology or another natural science. In addition, some will hold a master’s degree or doctoral degree. For entry-level positions, the BLS suggests that a bachelor’s degree and strong academic performance is sufficient, while some industrial positions may require a master’s. The type of certification you receive will depend on the level of education completed. Individuals who hold a doctoral degree in biological engineering can become certified by the Board of Certification for Engineers and Scientists (BCES). To fulfill the certification requirements, the BCES requires that you complete at least four years of engineering experience with five years in your specific engineering field. Passing scores on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and Professional Engineering (PE) exams are also mandatory. A Ph.D. only qualifies an individual to sit for the FE exam; however, a master’s degree will not allow you to take it. According to the BCES, individuals with a bachelor’s degree are only qualified to sit for the Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) exams.

Job Outlook & Career Paths

As noted by the BLS, engineers, in general, may face competition when searching for jobs due to an oversupply of candidates. In addition, those with a master’s degree may have to consider positions as research assistants or technicians until they can gain the necessary experience for consideration for higher-level positions. To increase your opportunities for career advancement, it is advisable to pursue a doctoral degree if you are interested in becoming a supervisor or manager at a later date. There are several entry-level positions open to those with a bachelor’s degree, including:

  • Biological Engineer
  • Cell and Regenerative Biologist
  • Industrial Engineer (entry-level)
  • Project and Product Development Engineer (entry-level)
  • Research Assistant (entry-level)
  • Lab Technician (entry-level)
  • Organization & Management Skills

Computer Skills

Computer skills are essential for biological engineers, as they will need to access information via the internet and use it to complete projects. They should also be able to input their findings into spreadsheets and databases if needed, to generate reports. Since much of the work involves designing systems, employees must be able to use design software.


Biological engineers play a critical role in developing new medical technologies and improving existing ones. They work in many different industries, such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. As technology advances, the skills required for this profession will also continue to change. To stay competitive in the job market, it is important to have strong computer skills and be able to communicate effectively with others. Earning a graduate degree can also lead to better career prospects.

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