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Salary of a Biomedical Engineer With a Master's vs. a PhD

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Biomedical engineers work in an interdisciplinary field of research, in which they use life sciences, such as biology and medicine, in conjunction with engineering principles to solve health care problems. Salaries can greatly vary especially when considering the differences between receiving a master's degree or a PhD. They may develop new diagnostic equipment, therapeutic treatments or methods of tracking patients’ progress. Salaries can reach six-figures, especially with advanced degrees.

Salary Ranges

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical engineers brought home an average of $89,970 a year, as of 2016. As of 2017, biomedical engineers entering the field with a master’s degree started with an average of $67,360 a year. Those with Ph.Ds. fared much better, earning an average of $77,520 to start. With a bachelor’s degree, starting salaries fell to an average of $53,470 a year.

Local Variances

In addition to level of degree, earnings vary by location. For example, biomedical engineers in California earned some of the highest wages in the nation, at an average of $97,990 a year, while biomedical engineers in Massachusetts averaged $91,410 annually. The same, however, can’t be said for biomedical engineers in Oklahoma, who reported an average wage of $58,380, with the bottom 10 percent earning less than $71,090 a year.

Contributing Factors

The variance in salaries isn’t just the result of educational attainment -- though this factor does play a role. With more advanced degrees, biomedical engineers tend to work in higher-level positions that often come with greater responsibilities. For example, those with a master’s degree in the field might lead a research team, notes the BLS. With a Ph.D., a graduate may end up teaching at a college or university.

Career Outlook

The BLS expects employment for biomedical engineers to be more than favorable. Between 2014 and 2024, growth in the industry should reach 23 percent, which works out to around 5,100 new jobs over the course of a decade. Expect additional opportunities to develop as biomedical engineers retire or leave the field.


Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

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