Sometimes people who don’t get a job that they wanted will blame something external – say, their major – instead of taking a hard look at their resume and interview skills. And sometimes people who don’t understand what a biomedical engineer actually studies and learns to do will believe that some other major is ‘better’ (and sometimes these people make hiring decisions for companies). And on top of all that, biomedical engineering programs can vary from school to school, more than some other engineering majors tend to. So someone might look at a curriculum at one school and then mistakenly make assumptions about biomedical engineers in general.
It’s pretty much always a mistake to make assumptions about groups of people, however you group them! Because we’re all individuals. Even if two people take the same classes, those two people can come out of the classes with very different sets of skills and experiences. And an important part of interviewing well is helping the interviewer understand what your skills and experiences are, and how they match the needs of the job.
So I disagree with the statement that ‘mechanical engineers have better technical skills.’ I think mechanical engineering graduates are usually taught a different set of technical skills. And I think how well those skills are learned and applied varies from individual to individual.
Every year I have a conversation with one or two first-year students who are trying to choose between mechanical and biomedical engineering. Often, they’ve been told that it will be easier to get a job with a mechanical engineering degree. In these conversations, I always say two things. First, I point out that all of last year’s biomedical engineering seniors got jobs, and that the folks with great academic records and career-building experiences and interview skills had an easier time getting jobs that the folks who didn’t. Second, I point out that mechanical and biomedical engineering degrees give you credentials to work on different kinds of projects. I tell the students that if they would be happy with a career making refrigerators, or ball bearings, or jet engines, then mechanical engineering might be a good choice for them. If they really want to work on medical products and that’s important to them, then biomedical engineering might be a good choice: they will study things they care a lot about, and be ready to work in a field that’s important to them.
Thank you for asking this important question!