How to Become a Field Clinical Engineer

Are you interested in becoming a field clinical engineer? If your answer is yes, or you’re unsure, you should know that there are different paths you can take toward this goal that include both undergraduate and graduate programs. 

As technology becomes more widespread, its applications continue to grow within the medical field, introducing more of a need for field clinical engineers. Field clinical engineers work in places like hospitals or laboratories, maintaining the installation or upkeep of medical devices and ensuring the equipment is working appropriately; they also provide support to fix issues when they arise. 

Keep reading to learn more about what a field clinical engineer does, who they work with, and what education is required to determine if this career path is right for you.

What Does a Field Clinical Engineer Do?

While a clinical engineer can help create and design medical equipment used for procedures and examinations, field clinical engineers support the machinery used in the field, typically in labs or clinical settings. In other words, field clinical engineers provide pre-and post-technological support, troubleshooting any hazards or inaccuracies that may arise. For example, if a lab’s motion analysis system suddenly stops working, a field clinical engineer would go directly to the lab to assess the concern and address the issue to get the device running properly again. Clinical field engineers also run routine diagnostics and offer training to clinical staff when needed.

How To Become a Field Clinical Engineer 

Anyone interested in becoming a clinical field engineer must first earn an undergraduate degree in engineering. These programs will teach you the principles of engineering along with the foundational science you’ll reference throughout your career. You can get a job as a field clinical engineer with only an undergraduate degree, so some individuals do not pursue further education. On the job, you’ll be trained to troubleshoot and maintain the specific equipment you’ll be working with, typically in an entry-level position.

Something to keep in mind is that engineers are trained to problem solve, so having an educational path that supports this way of thinking is valuable when considering your long-term goals. Although it is not a requirement, choosing to power your undergraduate degree in engineering with a master’s degree can be a major differentiator for your resumé. In general, a master’s degree will make you more marketable to recruiters, giving you an edge over the competition when applying for jobs. 

Some engineering students invest in an MS in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences. This type of program elaborates on the connection between engineering, science, and the fundamentals of technology, so students understand medical equipment and are able to develop solutions. Foundational knowledge of the technology and design involved in crafting medical equipment will support active and ongoing success when problem-solving out in the field. The average salary for a field clinical engineer is $80,000; however, compensation depends on where you live and your experience level.

How Does Engineering Support Human Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences?

The field of human movement and rehabilitation sciences relies heavily on advanced medical equipment, meaning field clinical engineers are critical to its operation, particularly as technological advances continue to grow and support new jobs. Both gait and motion analysis laboratories depend on several pieces of technology designed to capture and analyze an individual’s unique movement pattern. If these pieces of technology are inaccurate or do not work correctly, serious issues can arise.

With the increase in technology-enabled labs, clinical field engineers are needed to support these latest advances. For example, more virtual reality systems are being built into physical therapy centers, rehabilitation clinics, and other medical settings. If you’re considering education beyond your engineering degree, an MS in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences can advance your skill set, creating more opportunities as a field clinical engineer in the workforce. 

The Human Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences curriculum makes graduates more employable and empowers graduates with a deeper understanding of how the functionality is applied in the real world. With a better understanding of the science behind the human movement, you’ll be more prepared to interact with customers and clients, ultimately understanding how to help a company sell more products to the best of your ability. The more you know, the better chance you’ll have at selling new equipment or upgrades to your customers.

Jack Dennerlein, program director for the Master of Science in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences at Northeastern University, agrees. “[A degree in] human movement and rehabilitation sciences also stands out on a resumé compared to kinesiology, for example, which can be great for getting past that initial round of resumé review.”

Download our free career guide below to learn more about breaking into the field of Human Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences.