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Career profile: Clinical engineer

Career profile: Clinical engineerDo you want to help cure diseases and make sick people’s lives easier? You don’t need to be a doctor to make a difference. Clinical engineers are responsible for creating the equipment used by medical practitioners to save lives.

A what?

Clinical engineers design and make vital medical equipment used to diagnose and treat patients. Next time you settle down to watch 'ER' or 'Casualty', take note of all the gadgets and machines that are used, these are all created by clinical engineers.

On the job

Clinical engineers can work in a range of settings from hospitals to universities. They also work with lots of different people, including technical, scientific and medical staff as well as the patients themselves. The equipment they make is vital in the diagnoses, monitoring and treatment of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. As well as helping to battle diseases, clinical engineers also work on aids to help people with disabilities such as wheelchairs and artificial limbs.

How do I get there?

Specialists from almost every branch of science are to be found in this field, so there are a few different routes to getting there. Getting a degree in physics, electrical or mechanical engineering is a good start.

For degree courses, you will need at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) and three A-levels/four H grades. You normally need to get A levels in maths and physics. If you do want to apply to university, make sure you check all the different courses you’re interested in, as the qualifications you need can change.

Future prospects

Most clinical engineers begin their work in large teaching hospitals. Each year, some NHS Trusts recruit graduates for in-service training schemes. It can be difficult to get into as there are limited places, but if you do manage to get fully trained up, you’ll be in demand for work. The salary for a clinical engineer ranges from £17,000 a year to over £60,000 depending on your level of experience. You also get the added benefit of knowing that you’re making a big difference to people’s lives.

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