Ergonomics specialists make it easier for people to do their jobs by observing human movement as it relates to the work environment. They are experts at applying their knowledge of musculoskeletal function and how humans interact with their environment to make the workplace safer and more efficient. A career in this field may begin with enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology program.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that ergonomist employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations in coming years. Job growth will occur as more companies introduce ergonomics into the work environment to reduce injuries. Individuals with an advanced degree and certification should enjoy the best career opportunities.
Whether they are employed by private firms or public hospitals, ergonomics specialists perform a variety of tasks in their everyday work. They consult with clients on ways to control workplace hazards and create a safe and productive environment. Ergonomics specialists also provide ergonomic assessments to employers by observing, analyzing and documenting workers’ movements and actions, and then presenting their recommendations. They may also train the client’s workers on proper procedures and body positioning to prevent injuries.
Ergonomics specialists may develop or conduct research for insurance underwriters or government agencies. Documenting their findings and maintaining proper records are also typical job duties. Some specialists forecast events such as decision-making or behavior by observing groups or individuals and applying modeling or quantitative analysis to data.
Collaboration with engineers, designers and clients is often part of an ergonomics specialist’s job. These professionals typically work a 40-hour week and travel to client work sites to perform their jobs.
The BLS reports that the median salary for human factors engineers and ergonomists was $75,110 in May 2009. National salary data on CareerBuilder.com indicated that ergonomics specialist incomes ranged between $55,073 and $108,283 as of August 2010, with an average salary of $77,654. Recent bachelor’s graduates will generally start out toward the lower end of the range, and their earning will increase with experience and certification.
Most entry-level ergonomics specialist positions require a bachelor’s degree. Some employers also require the Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) designation or previous experience. Obtaining experience through summer jobs or internship programs while pursuing a degree in applied psychology is a possible path for aspiring ergonomics specialists.
The first step to an ergonomics specialist career can be a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology. Coursework typically includes introduction to psychology, scientific and technical communication, statistics and human-computer interaction.
Employers can be confident that graduates of an applied psychology program are able to:
With strong written, communication and interpersonal skills, a resourceful approach to problem-solving, an interest in human behavior and excellent attention to detail, you could achieve success as an ergonomics specialist.