Students who wish to become a Rehabilitation Engineer must complete a two year Master's degree program in Rehabilitation Engineering or Technology. Entrance to the Master's degree program usually requires an appropriate undergraduate Engineering degree (Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering) as a prerequisite. Rehabilitation Engineering is typically a specialty area in a traditional Engineering Master's degree program and can be a thesis or non thesis degree program.
Many agencies and programs now employ Rehabilitation Technology Specialists/Practitioner. While there is no specific educational requirement for these positions, these individuals typically have a Bachelor's degree in Engineering, Industrial Arts, Vocational Evaluation or Counseling and/or a sufficient level of work experience, specialized training and exposure in areas related to this field. Many programs include an internship in a rehabilitation setting.
At the present time, there are no certification requirements for the Rehabilitation Engineer or the Assistive Technology Practitioner. Graduates, however, are encouraged to become registered professional Engineers in the states where they work. There are two areas of credentialing that are offered in the field of Rehabilitation Engineering; one is the Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) and the other is Assistive Technology Supplier (ATS). The Assistive Technology Practitioner Certificate is designated for service providers primarily involved in analysis of a consumer's needs and training in use of a particular device. The Assistive Technology Supplier Certificate is designated for service providers involved in the sale and service of commercially available devices.
To become certified in either of these professions by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA); a candidate must first have the a Bachelor's degree or Master's degree in a related field if Rehabilitation or Engineering, relevant work experience in assistive technology and passing scores on all sections of the certifying examination. Additional information on credentialing can be obtained through RESNA.
Rehabilitation Engineers are involved with the design, development and application of rehabilitative and assistive technology to assist persons with disabilities in achieving greater independence. The typical Rehabilitation Engineer may be involved as a team member addressing problems related to wheelchairs and mobility, corrective postural positioning, independent living, workplace modification, adaptive driving and augmentative communication. Whether one is working with individuals or in a research facility, the Rehabilitation Engineer and/or Assistive Technology Practitioner are dedicated to increasing the personal independence and functional capability of individuals who are disabled.
The Rehabilitation Engineer, or the Assistive Technology Practitioner, may work in public or private rehabilitation agencies, community rehabilitation programs, hospitals, voluntary organizations, university based programs, research facilities, or as a consultant.
Additional Information Source
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive
Technology Society of North America
1700 North Moore Street
Arlington, VA 22209