How Do I Become a Medical Imaging Engineer?

T. L. Childree

Medical imaging engineers create and develop various types of equipment used in ultrasound, x-ray, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A significant amount of formal education is usually needed to become a medical imaging engineer. You must also complete some type of internship and pass an engineering certification examination before beginning this career. These professionals are typically employed by equipment manufacturers, research firms, and government agencies. Once you become a medical imaging engineer, you will be responsible for developing, testing, and evaluating various types of imaging devices.

An MRI machine, which is used for medical imaging.
An MRI machine, which is used for medical imaging.

At least four years of college coursework are usually needed to become a medical imaging engineer, but some employers may require more advanced training. These professionals typically begin their career with a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline. Typical coursework for this degree includes mechanical and electrical engineering as well as science, mathematics, and technology. Additional classes in biomechanics, biomedical instrumentation, and physics for medicine should also be taken. Completion of a master’s degree program in biomedical engineering may significantly improve your employment prospects.

Medical imaging engineers usually require at least four years of college coursework.
Medical imaging engineers usually require at least four years of college coursework.

A four-year engineering internship must also be completed before you become a medical imaging engineer. This internship takes place under the direction of a professional engineer and allows you to gain valuable, practical work experience. You will probably begin this on-the-job training period in an entry-level position until your skills and experience increase. Most engineering interns are initially assigned to simple tasks and gradually progress to more complex duties over time. Most colleges can place you in one of these professional internships after graduation.

In the United States, you must complete the first part of the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam prior to beginning your internship. This exam is offered by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and consists of two separate examinations. You must gain a total of four years practical work experience before taking the second exam. Upon successful completion of both exams, you will be awarded the Professional Engineer (PE) designation. This professional certification will prepare you for any licensing that may be required by your regional government.

Employment may be found with a number of different firms after completing your education, internship, and certification requirements. These professionals typically work for medical equipment manufacturers, research firms, and hospitals as well as engineering companies and government agencies. Additionally, some of these engineers are employed by research, marketing, or consulting firms. Typical duties for this profession include developing, testing, and evaluating various types of medical imaging equipment such as ultrasound, x-ray, and magnetic resonance devices.

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