Ergonomists research ways to design products, workplaces or systems to suit the people who need to use them.Job Category:
What you will do:
- visit workplaces and speak with clients to find out about issues that need solving
- work with teams of professionals to develop ideas
- design office layouts and advise on suitable furniture and equipment
- advise on the organisation of production lines and workstations
- design equipment and improve access for people with disabilities
- develop equipment and systems that are easy to use and less likely to lead to problems
- change transport design to increase the safety for the driver and passengers
design signs that are easy to understand
- carry out user trials to test new designs, and provide feedback to the manufacturer or client
- act as an expert witness in cases of industrial injury
- knowledge of psychology
- maths knowledge
- knowledge of English language
- complex problem-solving skills (adaptability skills)
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
As well as:
- analytical thinking skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisation skills)
- thinking and reasoning skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
To become an ergonomist, you’ll typically need a strong educational foundation in science, particularly in biology and human physiology, as well as skills in mathematics, design, and psychology. Here are some GCSE subjects that can be beneficial if you’re considering a career as an ergonomist:
- Biology: This subject is essential because ergonomists focus on the relationship between humans and their work environment, and a deep understanding of human anatomy and physiology is crucial.
- Mathematics: Mathematics is important for statistical analysis, which is often used in ergonomic research and analysis. It’s also valuable for understanding and implementing ergonomic design principles.
- Physics: Physics can help you understand forces, mechanics, and how they relate to ergonomics, especially when assessing the impact of equipment and workstations on the human body.
- Design and Technology: Courses related to design and technology can provide insights into product design, industrial design, and the design of workspaces, all of which are central to ergonomics.
- Psychology: Ergonomics is about making workspaces and tools that are not only physically comfortable but also mentally and emotionally satisfying. A basic understanding of psychology can be beneficial.
- Human Biology: Some schools may offer a human biology course specifically, which can deepen your knowledge of the human body and how it interacts with the environment.
- Information Technology (IT): Ergonomists often use software and technology for data analysis, modeling, and simulation, so basic IT skills can be useful.
- English: Strong communication skills are crucial for explaining your findings and recommendations in a clear and understandable manner, both in writing and verbally.
While these GCSE subjects are relevant, it’s essential to check with universities or institutions offering ergonomics or related courses to see if they have specific entry requirements or recommended subjects. You may also want to consider pursuing A-levels or other post-GCSE qualifications that align more closely with ergonomics or human factors engineering if such programs are available.
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
You can qualify as an ergonomist by doing a degree in ergonomics.
You can also complete a degree in a related subject and then take a postgraduate course in ergonomics. Related subjects include:
- occupational therapy
- sports science
- design engineering
You may be able to get into this job by doing a Human Factors Specialist Degree Apprenticeship.
It can take around 3 years to complete this apprenticeship.
If you work in industries like transport, healthcare or health and safety you may be able to complete short courses in ergonomics that will give you an insight into the field.
Working Hours and Environment:
Typical hours consist of 38-40 hours a week. You will usually work between 8am and 6pm and may have to be flexible with working times.
You could work at a client’s business, in an office or at a university.
Career Path & Progression:
With experience, you could progress into line management or project management.
You could move into consultancy work, or provide specialist services like workplace design or health and safety.