What are the Job and Career Prospects of Ergonomists ?
Ergonomists are Engineers who are specialized in researching and analyzing the human interaction with the processes and systems. They apply this scientific information to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use. Hence, ergonomics ensures that the equipment, tools and facilities have been designed and organized in a way that enhances the comfort, safety, health and efficiency of the people who use them. Ergonomists may design cars, furniture and leisure facilities to reduce the strain on human body in different postures while they relax or work for long hours.
An Ergonomist investigates the physical capabilities and limitations of a human body, risk assessment and study the effect of a work environment in workplaces, analyzes the way people use equipment and machinery, identifies the areas of improvement and finds practical solutions that can be implemented to improve the situation. They may have to compile statistical data and write proposals and user manuals. Ergonomists can also hold positions to assess health and safety standards in case of workplace accidents or act as an expert witness in cases of industrial injury.
There is a sharp rise in the demand for ergonomists in the information technology industry as people want increasingly user-friendly workstations and laptops. The human factors there may range from difficulty in picking up the technology to fatigue and vision problems that occur due to ever-stretching working hours. Ergonomists help increase the efficiency of employees in a company by remedying problems like poor lighting and uncomfortable furniture and help in marketing products by suggesting new changes that will make them more likeable and easy to use.
How to become Ergonomist
The best way to become a professional ergonomist is to complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Ergonomics from an institute, wherein the degree is recognized by the Ergonomics Society.
Some of the universities in the UK offering accredited courses in Ergonomics and its related fields are Derby University, Leeds University, University College London, Loughborough University, University of Nottingham, University of Surrey and Cranfield University.
Graduates, postgraduates and specialists in other related fields may join this field but it is always best to opt for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in ergonomics and human factors engineering for better growth opportunity in this career. You may also opt for some distance learning post-graduate certificate and diploma courses that are recognized by the Ergonomics Society. Employers usually look for a high standard of academic qualifications and good grades while hiring ergonomist experts.
The university courses that offer practical experiences may have a better weightage on a prospective ergonomist’s resume. Related work experience in the industry can be an added advantage for the people who want to switch their careers and join this lucrative field and earn favors from the employers. Problem-solving skills, a knack for numeracy, systematic approach to things and an understanding of technical concepts is highly desirable in this arena.
Working hours of an ergonomist
Working hours of an ergonomist may stretch from regular working hours to any length of time based on the project, a human factor engineer is handling. They may have to work in office, laboratories or field, based on the tasks assigned to them. However, ability to handle stress and be on the move constantly is a requisite for greater success in this line. There are many ergonomists who are self-employed and work as consultants and freelancers. An ergonomist has to learn continuously and keep himself or herself updated about the ongoing developments in technology and design. Women are increasingly opting for this career and about 50% of ergonomics graduates are females.