Bureau of Labor Statistics Projections for New Biomedical Engineering Jobs Misrepresented

The following table excerpt from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates the number of employees that report themselves as performing biomedical engineering jobs and the projected number that will be needed in the next 10 years.  It is important to note that the BLS is not referring to employees holding BME degrees but BME positions.  Positions that can are filled by engineers that do not have BME degrees.  The projection numbers demonstrate why there is considerable competition for BME positions.  Divide the 3000 by 10 and you get 300 new jobs per year for the years between 2006 and 2016. If for the sake of argument it is assumed that the actual number of biomedical engineering positions is double the reported number it isn’t difficult to see the challenge graduating B.S. BME has finding a position in their field.

Unfortunately many articles describing the BME job market and a number of BME programs use the 21% projected growth number and/ or the projected 3000 projected  job openings without breaking down what they  mean on a yearly basis.  This leaves the impression that there is a very large need for BME graduates.   A concerned academic would know that their graduates will find a very competitive job market.  Under these conditions it would seem that the ethical response would be to create curricula that maximize the preparation of their graduates to compete in the job market.  Anything less would be irresponsible.  I would encourage current and prospective students and parents ask for factual statistical evidence that graduates of the BME department are successful in obtaining positions.  Accrediting bodies for universities such as the Higher Learning Commision of the North Central Association are asking universities to provide proof that their programs provide positive student job outcomes after graduation.  Every BME department should be keeping records demonstrating how well they are performing in this area.

Occupation Total employment (000’s) 2006-2016 change in total employment
2006 2016 Number (000’s) Percent
Biomedical engineers 14 17 3 21.1

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