Clinical Engineer

Job Description:

Clinical engineers design, develop and maintain equipment for diagnosing illness and treating patients.

Job Category:
Engineering & Construction

What you will do:

In your day-to-day duties you may:

  • test equipment, like walking aids, wheelchairs and speech synthesizers (known as assistive technologies)
  • develop artificial limbs that attach to the patient’s own tissue
  • make artificial joints, heart valves and hearing implants from new materials
  • design equipment that allows doctors to try new medical techniques, like optical instruments for keyhole surgery
  • manage medical equipment, like scanners, imaging machines and monitoring systems
  • carry out quality assurance checks to ensure all equipment is working correctly and safely
  • work closely with other medical professionals and technical staff (teamwork)


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of physics
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent communication skills for talking to patients
  • the ability to prioritise workloads and plan effectively (organisational skills)
  • budgeting skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a specialist training programme (in the UK this is run by the NHS)

You can do a degree to start training as a clinical engineer. Relevant subjects include:

  • electrical or electronic engineering
  • mechanical engineering
  • biomedical science/engineering
  • pure or applied physics
  • applied maths

In the UK, after your degree, you can apply for the postgraduate NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). During the 3-year programme, you’ll be employed and study a postgraduate master’s degree at university.

Areas of clinical engineering covered by the programme include:

  • rehabilitation engineering
  • clinical measurement
  • medical device development

Competition for places on the STP is high, so it helps to have relevant experience. Try and do some voluntary work in a hospital and get experience of patient contact.

There are also jobs in the private sector for clinical engineers, where you could work your way up to chartered engineer status.

You could take postgraduate qualifications in biomedical engineering to increase your job prospects, particularly for research and development roles.

You could get into this job through a healthcare science practitioner degree apprenticeship.

Other Routes
If you do not have a degree, in the UK, you could apply for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme.

During the 3-year programme, you’ll be employed and study an accredited degree in healthcare science (clinical engineering) at university.

School Subjects

To become a Clinical Engineer in the UK, specific GCSE subjects are not mandatory, but certain subjects can be beneficial in developing the skills and knowledge required for this role such as:

  1. Mathematics: Strong mathematical skills are essential for analyzing data, performing calculations, and understanding engineering concepts.
  2. Physics: Studying physics can provide a foundation for understanding the principles of mechanics, electronics, and medical imaging technologies.
  3. Chemistry: Knowledge of chemistry is valuable in understanding the materials used in medical devices and equipment.
  4. Biology: Understanding biological systems and medical procedures can be beneficial in the context of medical device design and maintenance.
  5. Design and Technology (or Resistant Materials): This subject can provide practical skills and an understanding of engineering principles, which are relevant in clinical engineering.
  6. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Knowledge of ICT can be beneficial for using computer-aided design (CAD) software and medical equipment software.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work around 37.5 hours a week, between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. In a hospital setting, you may have to work evenings or weekends as part of an on-call rota, depending on your role.

If you work in a hospital, you’ll be based in a clinic and an engineering workshop. You’ll need to travel locally, usually to manage and maintain medical equipment in hospitals or health centres. You may also need to travel for conferences and meetings.

In research or industry, you’ll usually be based in a laboratory. You’ll travel to introduce new equipment to hospitals.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience and further training, you could become a consultant, specialising in particular clinical areas, or move into people or project management, teaching or medical research.

There are opportunities in both the public and private sector.