Medical equipment repairers install, maintain, and repair patient care equipment.

Duties    

Medical equipment repairers typically do the following:

  • Install medical equipment
  • Test and calibrate parts and equipment
  • Repair and replace parts
  • Perform preventive maintenance and service
  • Keep records of maintenance and repairs
  • Review technical manuals and regularly attend training sessions
  • Explain and demonstrate how to operate medical equipment
  • Manage replacement of medical equipment

Medical equipment repairers, also known as biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs), repair a wide range of electronic, electromechanical, and hydraulic equipment used in hospitals and health practitioners’ offices. They may work on patient monitors, defibrillators, ventilators, anesthesia machines, and other life-supporting equipment. They also may work on medical imaging equipment (x rays, CAT scanners, and ultrasound equipment), voice-controlled operating tables, and electric wheelchairs. In addition, they repair medical equipment that dentists and eye doctors use.

If a machine has problems or is not functioning to its potential, repairers first diagnose the problem. They then adjust the mechanical, electronic, or hydraulic parts or modify the software in order to recalibrate the equipment and fix the issue.

Medical equipment repairers use a variety of tools. Most use hand tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and soldering irons. Others use electronic tools, such as multimeters (an electronic measuring device that combines several measures) and computers. Much of the equipment that they maintain and repair uses specialized test-equipment software. Repairers use this software to calibrate the machines.

Many doctors, particularly specialty practitioners, rely on complex medical devices to run tests and diagnose patients, and they must be confident that the readings are accurate. Therefore, medical equipment repairers sometimes perform routine scheduled maintenance to ensure that sophisticated equipment, such as x-ray machines and CAT scanners, are in good working order. For less complicated equipment, such as electric hospital beds, workers make repairs as needed.

In a hospital setting, medical equipment repairers must be comfortable working around patients because repairs occasionally must take place while equipment is being used. When this is the case, the repairer must take great care to ensure that their work activities do not disturb patients.

Although some medical equipment repairers are trained to fix a variety of equipment, others specialize in repairing one or a small number of machines.

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Work Environment

Medical equipment repairers held about 53,800 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of medical equipment repairers were as follows:

Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers                             25%
Electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance 16
Hospitals; state, local, and private 14
Ambulatory healthcare services 9
Rental and leasing services 8

Medical equipment repairers who work as contractors often have to travel—sometimes long distances—to perform needed repairs. Repairers often must work in a patient-caring environment, which has the potential to expose them to germs, diseases and other health risks.

Because repairing vital medical equipment is urgent, the work can be stressful. In addition, installing and repairing medical equipment often involves lifting and carrying heavy objects as well as working in tight spaces.

Work Schedules

Although medical equipment repairers usually work during the day, they are sometimes expected to be on call, including evenings and weekends. Most medical equipment repairers work full time, but some repairers have variable schedules.

Education and Training

Employers generally prefer candidates who have an associate’s degree in biomedical technology or engineering. Depending on the area of specialization, repairers may need a bachelor’s degree, especially for advancement.

Education

Education requirements for medical equipment repairers vary, depending on a worker’s experience and area of specialization. However, the most common education is an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering. Those who repair less-complicated equipment, such as hospital beds and electric wheelchairs, may learn entirely through on-the-job training, sometimes lasting up to 1 year. Repairers who work on more sophisticated equipment, such as CAT scanners and defibrillators, may need a bachelor’s degree.

Training

New workers generally observe and help experienced repairers for 3 to 6 months to start. As they learn, workers gradually become more independent while still under supervision.

Each piece of equipment is different, so medical equipment repairers must learn each one separately. In some cases, this requires studying a machine’s technical specifications and operating manual. Medical device manufacturers also may provide technical training.

Medical equipment technology is rapidly evolving, and new devices are frequently introduced. Repairers must continually update their skills and knowledge of new technologies and equipment through seminars and self-study. The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may also offer training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase a repairer’s opportunities for advancement. Most manufacturers and employers, particularly those in hospitals, often pay for their in-house medical repairers to become certified.

Some associations offer certifications for medical equipment repairers. For example, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) offers certification in three specialty areas—Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET), Certified Radiology Equipment Specialists (CRES), and Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES).

Personality and Interests

Medical equipment repairers typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a medical equipment repairer, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Medical equipment repairers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Communication skills. Medical equipment repairers must effectively communicate technical information by telephone, in writing, and in person when speaking to clients, supervisors, and co-workers.

Dexterity. Many tasks, such as connecting or attaching parts and using hand tools require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Medical equipment repairers must be familiar with medical components and systems and how they interact. Often, repairers must disassemble and reassemble major parts for repair.

Physical stamina. Standing, crouching, and bending in awkward positions are common when making repairs to equipment. Therefore, workers should be physically fit enough as to not tire.

Technical skills. Technicians use sophisticated diagnostic tools when working on complex medical equipment. They must be familiar with both the equipments’ internal parts and the appropriate tools needed to fix them.

Time-management skills. Because repairing vital medical equipment is urgent, workers must make good use of their time and perform repairs quickly.

Troubleshooting skills. As medical equipment becomes more intricate, problems become more difficult to identify. Therefore, repairers must be able to find and solve problems that are not immediately apparent.

Pay

The median annual wage for medical equipment repairers was $49,280 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,500.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for medical equipment repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $59,500
Electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance 50,360
Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers                         50,270
Ambulatory healthcare services 46,990
Rental and leasing services 35,320

Although medical equipment repairers usually work during the day, they are sometimes expected to be on call, including evenings and weekends. Most work full time, but some repairers have variable schedules.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical equipment repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. These repairers will be needed to repair medical equipment in healthcare settings.

A significant factor in the greater demand for healthcare services is the aging population. As people age, they usually need more medical care. With the expected increase in the number of older adults and with people living longer, health professionals are prescribing more medical tests that use new, complex equipment. In addition, some medical facilities are increasingly purchasing refurbished medical equipment in order to save money. Medical equipment repairers will be needed to provide routine service to ensure the machines work properly.

Job Prospects

A combination of industry growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year should result in good job opportunities over the coming decade.

Candidates who have an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering and professional certification should have the best job prospects.

For More Information

For more information about medical equipment repairers, including a listing of schools offering related programs of study and information about certification, visit

Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation

Medical Equipment & Technology Association

 

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