Neuroengineers use their knowledge of biological systems and medical products to develop artificial limbs, organs and other prosthetic devices. For example, neuroengineers design cardiac pacemakers for patients suffering from hear conditions. They also test and monitor different technologies and systems, and collaborate with physicians, nurses and industry professionals to improve the performance of these devices. Moreover, neuroengineers study the relationship between neuroscience and engineering, and how prosthetic limbs can mimic nerves to help amputees and disabled patients achieve maximum dexterity and movement.
Biomedical engineering is a vast field that encompasses specializations such as bio-instrumentation, bionics and rehabilitation engineering. Neuroengineering—also known as neural engineering—is another specialty area under biomedical engineering that focuses on using medical processes and engineering techniques to replace, repair or enhance the human neural system. A bachelor’s degree in neuroengineering or biomedical engineering is usually required. Similar to other engineering specialties, biomedical engineers average salaries from as low as $50,000 to above $100,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Biomedical engineers, including neuroengineers, averaged $84,780 per year, according to a May 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Earners in the 10th to 25th percentile wage estimates reported salaries between $49,690 and $62,070 per year. However, salaries for biomedical engineers in the top percentile estimates fell between $103,570 and $126,990 annually. A job posting for a senior biomedical engineer working in the neurology department of a medical equipment company listed a salary between $75,000 and $90,000 per year as of the time of publication.
Neuroengineers can expect to receive varying salaries in different sectors, according to the BLS. Biomedical engineering jobs in universities and colleges earned an average salary of $68,060. Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing companies paid engineers an average annual wage of $83,740. Professionals employed in hospitals reported an average salary of $70,310 per year. Semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing companies paid biomedical engineers the highest wages at $111,480 annually.
As a subspecialty of biomedical engineering, neuroengineers can expect their field to grow 72 percent during the 2008 to 2018 decade. The BLS attributes this phenomenal growth to the rapid expansion of the health care industry, and the demand for technological advanced equipment and surgical procedures. Hospitals and medical organizations will also seek engineering professionals who can help them deliver cost-effective and high quality health care. Neuroengineers with superior technical skills in areas such as electronic design and computer hardware, and advanced degrees will have the best job prospects during this employment period.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Engineers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010
- Engineeringschool.com: Rewarding & Challenging Biomedical Engineering Schools
- ScienceLine; A neuro-engineer’s call to arms; Katie Palmer; April 2011
- University of Rochester: Neuroengineering
- Photo Credit PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images