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Ergonomist Human factors specialist

Ergonomists help to make sure that equipment and machinery are safe and easy to use.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need either:

  • a BSc in ergonomics (human factors design)
  • a degree in a relevant subject, like biology, design, engineering, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology or sports, followed by a postgraduate qualification in ergonomics

You could also get into this career after working in a related area like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychology or design and engineering.

The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors has more information about this career.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • maths skills
  • IT skills including computer-aided design (CAD)
  • close attention to detail
  • problem-solving skills
  • the ability to analyse and communicate complex information to non-experts

3. What you'll do

You'll research and analyse issues including:

  • the way muscles and limbs work
  • the physical capabilities and limitations of the body
  • the effects of environmental factors like noise, heat and lighting
  • how people think and behave, and how this influences their use of equipment and systems

Your tasks will vary depending on your role, but will usually include:

  • speaking with clients to find out more about the issue that needs solving
  • designing office layouts and advising on suitable furniture and equipment
  • advising on the organisation of production lines and workstations
  • designing equipment and improving access for people with disabilities
  • developing equipment and systems that are easy to use and less likely to lead to problems
  • changing transport design to increase the safety for the driver and passengers
  • designing signs that are easy to understand
  • carrying out user trials to test new designs, and providing feedback to the manufacturer or client
  • acting as an expert witness in cases of industrial injury

You could also be involved in research or teaching.

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £30,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £60,000

You'll negotiate your own rates if you’re self-employed.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but hours can vary depending on the employer and the project you're working on.

You'll work in an office and travel to visit clients and sites.

You'll also use equipment for measuring and making calculations.

6. Career path and 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.

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Last updated: 12 April 2017