There are approximately 42,000 medical equipment repairers working in the United States. Job outlook statistics indicate tremendous growth in the upcoming decade. While on average occupations are expected to grow between 8 and 11 percent, opportunities for medical equipment repairers will increase 27 percent. Medical equipment repairers will have no problem finding work, as there will be an abundance of employment opportunities. Repairers who are willing to relocate will find gaining employment especially easy; many rural areas are desperate for trained technicians. Job applicants who have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering are sought by employers.
Medical equipment repairers, or biomedical equipment technicians (BMET), inspect, maintain, and fix medical electronic, electromechanical, and hydraulic equipment. There is a wide range of equipment they must be familiar with, including imaging equipment, defibrillators, operating tables, and equipment used by dentists and eye doctors.
Technicians use hand tools, electronic tools, multimeters, and computer software to monitor, calibrate, adjust, or repair a machine that is dysfunctional. The problem might be located in the electronic, hydraulic, or mechanical system. It is extremely important to both patients and doctors that certain medical equipment works correctly, as errors in diagnosis or treatment could be serious or even life threatening. For repairs of this nature, a technician may be required to make a repair at any hour of the day or night. Other tasks that are less urgent can be attended to on a regular schedule.
Employers of medical equipment repairers include hospitals, doctor and dentist offices, veterinarians, and electronic equipment repair and maintenance companies specializing in medical equipment. Work environments are typically very clean, well lit, and climate controlled. There will be times when technicians will work on a machine in the presence of patients and be exposed to illness. This can be stressful work, as well as personally rewarding. Travel is frequently involved.
While only an associate’s degree is required to work on most medical equipment as a repairer, to make career advancement, a bachelor’s degree is necessary. Those lacking any degree might work on simpler machinery, such as electric wheelchairs, and be trained on the job. Most employers allow several months in which trainees watch and support experienced repairers. Over time, trainees are given simple to complex tasks until they are able to work independently under supervision. Repairers must be trained to read technical specifications. Continuing education is often offered by medical device manufacturers. Technicians will face new equipment on a regular basis; it’s important they participate in ongoing education to fine-tune their knowledge and skills.
Certification can be earned from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) in three areas of focus: Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET), Certified Radiology Equipment Specialists (CRES), and Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLEB). Certification requires both classroom instruction and work experience prior to passing the certifying examination. Many employers will pay the cost of certification for their medical repairers.
Medical equipment repairers begin with entry-level work. As they develop skills and a foundation of knowledge, they will be given increasingly complex equipment to repair. Those with a bachelor’s degree might be promoted to a supervisor or manager position, become trainers, or work for manufacturers as sales representatives.
The median yearly salary for medical equipment repairers is around $42,000. Those at the bottom of the pay range earned less than $26,000, while those at the top earned over $65,000.