If you’re wondering whether a career in ergonomics is right for you, read on…
What do ergonomists do?
Ergonomics is about making life easier for people. This includes the products you use at home, at play and at work, the places in which you live and work, the transport you use to get around, and the systems that keep day-to-day life functioning properly. So as an ergonomist, you could:
- design products to make them easier or more comfortable to use
- train people to work safely in hazardous places like oil rigs and power plants
- examine the physical strength and endurance of athletes
- analyse pilots’ tasks to ensure maximum performance under stress
- design protective equipment for people working in extreme environments
- improve accessibility for disabled people.
Ergonomics (which is also called human factors) is full of people with varied interests and differing expertise, but who are united by a passion for working with others to make their lives easier. Their goal is to make life safer, more comfortable, more efficient, and more pleasurable too!
What’s the work like?
If you’re looking for a comfortable 9 to 5 office job, where you know exactly what you’re going to be doing every day, look no further as this isn’t for you! As a practising ergonomist, you could find yourself outside in all weathers, working nights, working away from home but…you’ll see and experience things that you’ll always remember. The work is sometimes exciting, sometimes fascinating, and often inspiring. What other single job allows you access to such massively varied workplaces? You could be working in a hospital looking at the safety of patients. You could be in the control room of a nuclear power station examining the computer interfaces used by the operators. You could be in a design studio working on a new prototype for a cutting edge product. You could be on a farm looking at the use of quad bikes. You could be on a submarine looking at working and living conditions. Whatever you do, you can be sure that it will really make a difference!
But you don’t need to take our word for it, read the career profiles of a number of our members in a variety of work to find out exactly what it’s like!
Whatever your interests or your previous qualifications, you can study ergonomics after school as a first degree on its own, or you could study later for a second degree. You might then combine ergonomics with another discipline like psychology or design. We have a list of courses that would enable you to qualify as a Graduate or Technical Member of the IEHF. You’ll need a good general level of education but don’t necessarily need a specific subject as the discipline is so varied that you can specialise if you wish in a number of different areas. Ergonomists (or human factors professionals) often have interests or qualifications in psychology, engineering, design or anatomy. They may have previously been physiotherapists, occupational therapists or they might come from a completely unrelated line of work.
How much do ergonomists earn?
Salaries can vary of course depending on your qualifications and experience, and the type of work you do. As a graduate, you might start at around £20,000, with senior ergonomists earning £60,000 or more.
Where can I find out more?
Look at the other sections of this website. You’ll find details of further education, you’ll find profiles of ergonomists who carry out work in many different areas such as healthcare, high hazard industries, design studios, etc. You can meet ergonomists to discuss the kind of work they do, and you can also undertake work experience to sample the profession at first hand. We’ll help you to find out about the amazing opportunities that are available to you as an ergonomist. So why not consider it? After all, you won’t believe where it can take you!
I’m a careers adviser, do you have any information I can use?
Yes, we have a Powerpoint presentation, a set of posters and a leaflet featuring the information and images on this page that are available for you to download.
“Hello, as a school-based careers adviser I was pleased to receive your posters and information regarding careers in ergonomics. I firmly believe too many organisations now rely too much on internet based resources which means young people have less access, not more, to quality careers information. I now receive few careers posters from organisations and actually struggle to fill my display boards. I wish more organisations would follow your example – many thanks!” Andy Primmett, Careers Adviser, Brooke Weston Academy, Corby