Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Biomechanics is the application of the laws of physics and concepts used in engineering to the movement and mechanical functioning of the human body. It assesses human anatomy with regard to forces exerted upon it. A biomechanist analyzes the effects of these forces on the body and works on practical solutions to improving body performance, be it physical attainment or prevention of injury.
Used in a variety of jobs, duties of a biomechanist vary accordingly. All involve the analysis of movement in the human form, however. This includes helping victims of accidents regain motor skills, or using enhanced computer software to analyze the performance of sports professionals. They use skills in the subject areas of physics, statistics, anatomy, motor learning, human tissues and kinesiology.
A biomechanist must combine the anatomical and physiological knowledge that a medical doctor would possess with an understanding of the physics of movement that an engineer focuses on. It is usual for a biomechanist to complete a first degree in either engineering or medical anatomy, followed by a postgraduate degree in the other subject. Some institutions, such as the American Sports Medicine Institute, offer postgraduate degrees specifically in biomechanics.
Biomechanists usually work in research institutions and clinical sites. Sports science institutions traditionally provide the majority of opportunities, with the biomechanist looking to improve athletic performance and minimize the threat of injury. They also work in medical facilities or in orthopedics and find employment with private businesses, such as car manufacturers, analyzing injury prevention.
Pay and Opportunities
According to NC State University, as of March 2010, the average starting salary for a biomechanist was $54,000. Once employed, the possibilities for career progression tend to be linked to research conducted and published. Biomechanists can go on to advise on government policy, manage research institutes or into teaching.
The desire to continually improve upon knowledge and seek innovative solutions in the field is a key attribute for a biomechanist. The ability to work autonomously is important. Effective communication, often of complex ideas, to clients, peers and management is essential.
Dirk Huds has been a writer/editor for over six years. He has worked for bookshops and publishers in an editorial capacity and written book reviews for a variety of publications. He is currently studying for his master's degree.