In this podcast, 24×7’s chief editor Keri Stephens sits down with Chace Torres, aka “The Bearded Biomed,” to discuss the results of 24×7’s 2022 compensation and job satisfaction survey. Notably, the survey saw an increase in engagement, with female respondents doubling from the previous year.
Stephens and Torres discuss the factors that may have contributed to this increase, including outreach from educational parties and social media engagement from industry professionals. The pair also highlight the value of continuing education, which 35% of survey respondents said they were pursuing, and how it is vital for healthcare technology management professionals to grow in their career field.
Another key theme from 24×7’s 2022 compensation and job satisfaction survey was the number of respondents who said they would promote the HTM profession to others, with 36% very likely to do so and 29% likely, despite a prevalent theme of feeling overworked. Stephens and Torres also delve into the problem of an aging workforce and the need to replace those retiring from the HTM industry. Overall, the survey results indicate positive trends in the HTM industry, with an increase in engagement, diversity, and education.
Finally, Stephens and Torres get into the weeds of the salary survey and discuss some of the most surprising findings from it.
Hello, this is the 24×7 podcast on the MEDQOR Podcast Network. I’m Keri Stephens and I’m the chief editor of 24×7 and your host. Today I’m here with a good friend of the podcast, Chace Torres, AKA, the Bearded Biomed. And we are here to discuss the results of the 2022 HTM Salary Survey, which came out earlier this year. Chace, thanks for joining me today.
Absolutely. I’ve been looking forward to it. This is 2023, we’re here, ready to link up on the mics again.
We are. So just for everyone to know, I was on Chace’s Spirited Biomed podcast to discuss this survey, so be sure to check that out too. This is a part two, we just really wanted to get into the weeds of the survey and I have to say there was a lot of things that surprised me about this year survey, but Chace what surprised you most from a actual biomed perspective?
Specifically, which we talked another time on this, but the main thing for me was for one, the engagement of the survey. So, more respondents and of those respondents, more than being female, which is fantastic. Your numbers of respondents of females, which I think almost doubled compared to the year prior.
They did. So, in 2021, females represented 11% of the survey respondents and in 2022, it doubled to 22%, 22%. So, for the biomed field, that’s pretty noteworthy, especially when there’s been such a stigma of women in the field, how it’s a male-dominated field, which okay, it still is, but that seems to be changing, which is really noteworthy to me.
Yes, it is still male dominated, but the fact that you do have, like I said, a doubling of a percentage of people engaging, which unless they just happen to find out about it for the first time ever, it’s very likely that we had growth within the field. So, it’s very encouraging.
So, what do you think’s contributing to that, why do you think more women are joining the HGM field?
I think it’s a combination of different factors. There’s been a lot of outreach from educational parties, organizational, such as AMI, College of Biomed, then you have the social media engagement from individuals like myself, Bryant, Sherell, Justin, believe it or not, just yesterday I noticed another young lady biomed started her own YouTube channel.
Alaskan Traveling Biomed. Which I’m all for. The more engagement, the more we can get people to see what we do, absolutely. So, go check out her YouTube channel as well if y’all are listening. It’s pretty cool, a lot of snow ASMR, which I appreciate.
But getting back to what I was speaking of, is there’s a lot of different factors of people going through and explaining exactly what we do. And for many years, speaking to a lot of my female colleagues, just from them going to where it was, to what it is now, there’s more engagement and more understanding that obviously females can do the same job than a man can do.
And with this being essentially a STEM career, it’s mathematics, it’s science, it’s electronics, it’s a combination of everything. I think that people are finally starting to get the value of it and wanting to pursue about it and obviously, the word’s grown about it. So, I think that’s at least a factor in it, if not a big chunk of the pie.
I agree. And I will say another thing that surprised me personally that we did discuss in your podcast was the amount of readers or survey respondents that’s readers pursuing further education. So this year, or in 2022, 35% said they are currently pursuing further education, which was a noteworthy jump from 2021. And I think it does speak to more people joining the field, a changing demographic and maybe one that is really more interested in seeing how education can further their career, which I think is amazing.
Continuing education is something that is absolutely vital for any biomed who wants to grow in their career field to take on. And obviously, with more credentialing, more education, certifications, when you add that to your repertoire or your tool belt as some might say, it’s going to yield you further opportunities for maybe a position that you’re looking to get promoted to, or it’s going to make you more sought after in the recruiting market, for you to go find that job and get that raise that you want to. Education, obviously it makes us better technicians, but it also is going to yield back to you greater opportunity, greater pay.
Absolutely. And personally, another thing that I thought was cool that we can talk about, was the amount of people that said they would promote the HTM profession to others. So, even if they do feel overworked, which was a theme we heard throughout the survey, they really still are … 36% said they were very likely to promote the HTM profession and 29% said they were likely. So, these are good numbers. I mean, these people are really recommending people to come and be part of this, which we need.
I mean, there’s definitely a problem with the aging out of the biomeds, if we don’t know who’s going to replace these people that are retiring. I think the field was a little younger than in previous years, but I mean typically, the average biomed is over 40. So, we need these new people coming into the field. So, that was really good for me to hear.
And one of my favorite quotes that people … that one of the respondents wrote said, “I feel like the motor in the vehicle, you may not always see me, but you know that I’m making it possible to provide adequate care for all patients.” Can you talk about that from an actual biomed perspective, why you feel like the motor in the vehicle or if you do?
You know me, I love any kind of anecdote or suggestion of what a biomed is within everything else. We’ve been called so many things. Motor is very suitable because we keep everything running. I mean, we literally do, we keep all of your medical devices and all of your facilities operational according to manufacturer specifications.
So, in order to do that, I mean it requires a lot. There’s so many different modalities out there. There’s so many different types of trainings, different requirements that these machines will exact on a technician to be aware of. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting left seat, right seat training from a senior technician that’s experienced in it. And some of them, when you get into specialty modalities, you’re having to go after that specialized OEM training.
So, what am I alluding to with this? Is we literally have so many different components that we have to take care of that we are essentially a motor within the medical facility. We’re keeping everything up and running. We’re engaging with them on a daily basis. Whether you’re in-house or a field service technician, bouncing into different facilities, you are supplying them with the ability for them to do what they need to do, which is patient care.
So, without the medical equipment, then that’s not going to happen. Or at least it’s … the level of patient care will be minimized. I’m not going to say that nurses and doctors can’t do their job without equipment, but it’ll make their jobs harder, right?
Much harder. Yeah, for sure. Well I think too, now we probably need to get into the bulk of what people care about with the salary survey. I mean, the keyword’s salary. People want to know if they’re being paid adequately. And this year, I will say the results were a bit mixed. Certain regions performed better. The mountain west seemed to do really well. They outpaced most of the other regions in the survey and the BMET IIs in the Mountain West region had a lot of growth. So, their salaries, their median salaries grew from 60,500 to 75,100 year over year. And actually what I thought was crazy, the Mountain West based BMET Is saw their salaries grow from 47,500 to 67,200 year over year. And these are pretty good numbers, but again, all regions were not created equally. And that’s something we’ve seen in every salary survey every year, that certain regions do well. Why do you think the Mountain West saw so much higher growth in other regions? If you have any ideas?
I mean honestly, it could just be a factor of trying to catch up with the rest of the country because each and every year we see … We’ll have one region that just outperforms the rest of them in terms of HTM pay and then the others either remain stagnant or it’s so minuscule of a drive up in what you’re raising pay for these technicians that it’s not notable. So, you have that factor and I want to say the mountain region has been due okay for that increase in time. Secondly is-
The Southern had the biggest boom in 2021.
Right, and then if you consider cost of living, that is why there’s such a disparity between all the regions. We are not all the same in what it costs to live, cost of living in California is going to be dramatically different like for instance, where I am in Texas. Hence why most people move here from California, just because you get more bank for your buck and with the mountain region and a lot of the states up there, the economy’s starting to boom for them. There’s more opportunities out there. Like I said, they’re trying to catch up to the rest of the states. And then let’s not forget we have inflation going on right now.
So, it’s very likely that a lot of these are trying to meet the curve and stay either ahead of adjust adjustment for inflation or they’re just trying to tiptoe the line, to at least be adequate and competitive pay-wise.
Because they say inflation’s about 7%, it could be higher now. And I thought another interesting thing, and we see this every year, but some years it’s more marked than others. But the clinical engineers, out of all the job titles did the best in 2022 in regards to salary growth. So, they saw their median salaries grow 14,300 year over year to 103,500. And that’s across the board nationwide. So, they did well and the managers … okay, so nationwide, the managers, those with the manager job title, they finally broke the six figure ceiling and they saw their salaries rise to 110,500, which is a $10,700 year over year raise.
I mean, again, it’s certain job titles too, [inaudible 00:11:22]. Which we always see. But I thought that was interesting because we haven’t seen the clinical engineers see that kind of growth lately in the past few years I’ve been doing this.
Well, they’ve also had the fancier title than the rest of us. So, they they’ve gotten benefited in other ways. No, it’s good for the field in general, no matter what region you’re in, what position you’re in. When we see growth and salary range for the biomed, it’s moving us more towards what I feel our pay range needs to be at. Because while we are not considered tradesmen, we are a tradesman craft. We deal with HVAC from time to time, we deal with plumbing, we deal with refrigeration, we deal with electrician. We’re also navigating with the IT network as well.
Right, with cyber, yeah.
So, while we are not inherently in all of those jobs, we’re constantly working aside those individual, whether it’s for insulation, tear down, standard preventive maintenance, repair, whatever. A lot of these, depending on the type of medical device you’re working on, it’s going to have some factor of that as well. So, when you consider, like let’s say what an electrician or a plumber makes on a year to year basis in different regions, we’re slowly starting to catch up to this is a craft, this is a profession that has the same level of schooling, if not more. And then also has the requirements to be certified, be engaged in continuing your education and be the master of your universe to be able to support these medical facilities. So, it makes me happy.
Do you think overall, education is the way to get higher salaries in this industry?
It’s a half and half way because there are facilities out there that they won’t hire you without a CBET. There are companies out there that will not give you a promotion without a certain degree, level, or a certain certification. I know my company has a career ladder to where if you want to move into that regional area, you got to have your CHTM, your CBET, a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering, management, what have you.
So, education is inherently injected into moving up within our career field. However, that’s not always going to be the case for you to get a higher pay rate. Experience always is going to be vital when you have somebody that’s been doing it for so longer is literally a subject matter expert in one particular modality, whether they’re gone through all these different schools or not, but they’ve just been doing it so long, then they’re more inherently going to have the opportunity to get higher pay. But those are outliers nowadays because a lot of those individuals are probably on the verge of retiring or going to be retiring. So, more often than not, I think your greatest solution to a pay raise is probably going after either schooling, getting your degree, or obviously getting a certification from the ACI.
Well, one thing I noticed this year too in the survey, and I’m not sure how much this goes into the actual salaries people receive, but the environment of care changed a lot with our readers. We saw a lot more ISOs represented in the 2022 salary survey than in previous years. So, ISOs represented 21% of the survey respondents rather, and hospitals, medical centers, multi-hospital systems only represented 69%, which 69% is obviously a major majority, but in previous years that was much higher. So, I wonder how much the ISO’s takeover is going to contribute to salaries.
Well, I’ve been ISO my entire career, for those of you that don’t know what that means, Independent Service Organization, we are literally the link between medical facilities, whether you have an in-house program or not, I’ve worked alongside them too, and the OEM. So, what that typically means is not only do we need to meet and exceed your expectations as a end user or owner of your medical device, but we also have to help bridge the gap to the manufacturer.
Sometimes, at least over the last year, there was multiple times that we were contacted by OEMs to facilitate repairs or services because they cannot get out to that region or didn’t have a presence within that region. Let’s be frank, OEMs are also struggling with staffing as well.
So, the ISO technician has the opportunity to wear more hats and contribute and make more of an impact across the grand landscape of their region than, let’s say an in-house programmer. I say this sometimes and it does make people’s heads turn, but … now this is the but, a well-managed ISO team can outperform any in-house program.
Now when I say that, people are like, “Wait, what is this guy talking about?” We have to not only be to the level of every other technician out there, but we also have to exceed reporting or be on par. Typically, we’re exceeding manufacturer reporting because we’re going out there and getting ISO certified 9001, 13485 depending on your company.
So, there’s a lot more embedded with ISO technicians that are requiring you to, let’s be honest, get a little bit of a higher pay because you’re having to do more. You’re managing your own time, you’re scheduling multiple clients, not just handling one facility. You’re going out there getting certified, you’re doing excessive documentation because that’s what we are in this industry now.
So, do I think that they’re taking over? No, but there’s also been a … I mean, I’ve always heard for the past decade, maybe since I’ve been in the field that for a long time, ISO companies were not really thought well of because you could have an outlier, like a mom and pop shop, a one or two technicians band together, do really terrible work and like I said, they’re outlier and then that stains the reputation of the regular … all the other companies out there doing third party services. But as with COVID and the staffing issues and the educational parameters and regulatory parameters, it’s becoming more and more understood that independent service organizations are bringing something to the table. So with that, more respondents, higher pay, and that’s, I think is at least the foundational of where all this started.
No, that’s a really good perspective. So, you’re talking about the OEMs, and I want to get into one of the things that kept being pointed out in the survey, and it was supply chain issues. I mean, obviously personnel, supply chain issues, that’s been well documented in the HTM field and people in the survey talked about it too, how their departments are smaller, they’re being tasked with more work. They’ve gone from nine technicians to four.
But another thing that people mentioned a lot was the actual supply chain issues, getting equipment and how parts especially has been hard to get and they’ve been basically stranded in ports and all of that. So, has that something that you’ve noticed personally and have you seen it get better since the beginning of COVID is it improving or is this just something that we’re living with?
It has gotten better. There are still some outliers of lead time, of … I mean, there’s still parts out there for specific companies, for specific modalities that sometimes a lot of these companies, they’ve outsourced their manufacturing process of certain parts outside of the country because it costs less, cost of labor, cost of manufacturing is just cheaper.
The other impact to that is, like we saw last year there, was significant lead time because there was no supply at all. We had canals getting blocked. We just had a lot of craziness happen around quarter four. And a lot of people don’t realize too, around the quarter four sector of the year, a lot of manufacturers aren’t resupplying their stock to begin with. They’re trying to basically use what they got. So, there’s already intrinsically built in, that there’s going to be less of what you need available. I think the major thing that everybody was feeling was something so simple was the AED. Could not get ahold of pads, could not get a hold of batteries.
I had facilities that were holding on, that we just happened to come out and they had well past due date pads for their AEDs, but they’re like, “I’ve had some on order for six, eight months and there’s no ETA of when I’m going to get them. So, I’d rather have something than nothing.”
I think we’ve gone past that. I think we’re looking towards a smoother horizon compared to the scare of middle and late of last year. But supply chain’s always going to be an issue. It’s just a matter of how you navigate your supply chain. So, some facilities out there have one supplier, one vendor that they’re going to order through because it’s approved in their system and that’s all they’re going to use.
Others, which I think is smarter, has multiple vendors that they could pull from. “Okay, if this doesn’t have it, but I need it, I can go here, here, here, here.” It’s just a matter of honestly, how you manage your system, which will help you navigate those shortfalls that we’re going to … this will happen again. It’s not like that was an outlier. It will happen again. It’s better, but like I said, if you can set yourself up for your success, to be able to go after different vendors to get that supply, you’re going to be in a better place.
So, for my last question, I want to hear from you why people should take the salary survey, because I tell people all the time, but I will say before you answer that, that we continually get emails just thanking us for disseminating this information and helping people get raises and just making sure that the industry is paid fairly, but you were actually in the industry and I’d love to hear it from you and your key takeaway about the importance of the survey.
Well, it’s important for engagement, transparency, interaction, of establishing what people should be getting paid. And I mean, if you consider just from the recruiting standpoint, you have other companies out there that you can google HTM salary and you can look up at all these different companies and they all say different things.
And here’s the trick people, is a lot of people still don’t know what our job is, what it entails. You’ll have recruiters reach out to you for a job that’s completely different than what you’re doing. So, if they have no idea what your job description is, how do you think that they’re measuring it out in the interwebs, your pay compared with all these jobs they’re trying to compare you to? It’s not going to be as accurate.
What the HTM Salary Survey does is it pulls all the respondents that everybody interacts with it, and this is actual biomeds telling you what they get paid, what their transgressions are, what their likes are, what is the heartbeat of our career, you can’t take that for granted. That’s why it’s so critical that we all respond to this survey because it gives us a snapshot of the previous year of where we stand, that I don’t think any other company out there that’s measuring other professions is going to be able to do accurately.
Now, there’s always going to be somebody that says, “Well, how do you know that a biomed’s saying that what they’re paid is accurate? Maybe they’re adding an extra 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 to their pay?” Well, if you’re actually doing that, then why are you even taking it?
I understand there’s the argument that everybody’s putting in fake salaries, so that way they can beef up our pay ranges and everything so we can obviously get higher pay. I think that’s probably, if that is occurring, it’s outliers and guess what? 24×7 is doing due diligence. They bring in a company to help sort through all of this and actually compile the data and do it on a pretty miraculous scale.
So, this is something that every biomed I know looks forward to every single year because it gives you accurate data that you can take home to the bank, literally take to your manager, say, “Hey, this is what our pay range in this region is. I’m nowhere near that. What are you going to do?” Or if they still have to argue about that, you could say, “Okay, I’m here. This is where the pay is here. What do you need from me so you can give me a raise or give me the promotion that I’ve been wanting?” So at the very least, it’s going to spark the conversation between you and your management team to what’s required of you to get to that next level. And if they don’t want to help you with that, then you know, need to look at another position.
Absolutely. And there’s always positions available, so we do know that.
Exactly. Especially in our field.
Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. That was really helpful. Can you tell everyone where they can find you?
Well, if you just so happen to google anything, just google Bearded Biomed and it will drop you into every single social media that I have. Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, what have you. But if you want to catch the channel, Bearded Biomed is on YouTube, video podcasts, or if you’d like to listen, Spotify, Apple Podcast, wherever you take in your podcast, however you may listen, that’s where you’ll find me.
And I encourage everyone to listen to part one of our conversation on Chace’s Bearded Biomed podcast. Thank you. And to our audience, thank you for listening.
Be sure to subscribe to the MEDQOR Podcast network to keep up with the latest episodes of the 24×7 podcast. And in the meantime, check out 247xmag.com to keep up with the latest industry news. Until next time, take care.