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Job Photographs

  • A woman is crouching beside an office desk.  She is using a tape-measure to measure the distance from the floor to the top of the desk.

    Helping to choose suitable furniture for an office.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  There is a row of blue folders on a shelf next to the desk.

    Ergonomists need good computer skills.

  • A woman is standing and holding on to a small piece of hand-held equipment.  In front of her, a man is holding a white object steady.  The equipment appears to be attached to the object.  The woman is looking down at the equipment.

    Testing a product for safety.

  • A woman is sitting at a long desk in an office.  Another woman is standing beside her.  There are some books open on the desk and they are both looking at one of them.

    Ergonomists need to keep their knowledge up to date.

  • Four people are sitting on a sofa, talking.  There is a small wooden table in front of them.  They are consulting some brochures, which are lying on the table.

    Teamwork and good communication skills are important.

  • A woman is crouching next to a white plastic child-sized chair.  In the chair sits a small dummy wearing children's clothes.  The woman is examining the dummy.

    Using a dummy to check the ergonomics of a chair.

  • Ergonomist

Ergonomist

Introduction

Ergonomists and human factors professionals deal with the relationship (or 'fit') between people and their working and living environments. This includes the things people do and the objects they use. Ergonomists give advice on the types of equipment and environment that will help people to work, travel and live safely, comfortably and efficiently. Some ergonomists help to design products.

Also known as

  • Human Factors Professional

Work Activities

As an Ergonomist you will use your knowledge to improve people's working lives. Your main aim is to help people work more efficiently.

You will do this by making sure that equipment, machinery and systems are suited for the working people.

Ergonomists understand the abilities and limitations of the human body, and how humans behave and react in certain situations. You can apply this knowledge to the design process.

As an Ergonomist, you can also study how people cope with working in either very hot or very cold temperatures, or working shifts, or lifting and moving awkward or heavy loads.

Also, you can help to design products that people use in their everyday lives. You might design equipment to help older people or people with disabilities, for example, to make kitchen gadgets easier to use.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Ergonomist, you will need to have:

  • numeracy skills
  • research skills
  • analyse and solve problems
  • IT skills
  • writing skills - to produce reports
  • management skills
  • presentation skills - to deliver the results of your research to groups of people
  • teamwork skills - Ergonomists often work closely with Designers, Engineers, Architects and Operational Researchers
  • the ability to ask questions

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate:

  • Starting: £31,000 - £34,000
  • With experience: £37,000 - £43,500
  • Senior Ergonomists earn £47,000 - £51,000

Hours of work

Some Ergonomists work around 35-40 hours, Monday to Friday. However, late finishes and some weekend work could be required, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Employers are private and public sector organisations, including government departments, large multinational organisations and small specialist consultancies. Some work in the educational sector.

Opportunities for Ergonomists can occur in some towns and cities around the UK. However, this is a relatively small, specialised career area.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Ergonomists to work as self-employed, freelance consultants.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised through the Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors website and magazine (for members), on some specialist job boards and in national newspapers.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry Routes

If you would like to be an Ergonomist then you must register with the Chartered Insitute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF). This is a professional body where people who are studying or becoming an Ergonomists can be members and promotes networking and communication.

After you have completed your A levels, you can study ergonomics at university. You will learn all the knowledge and some experiance to help you get a job in the future.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

It is possible to be an Ergonomist by having equivalent qualifications. This could include courses using a HND or an apprenticeship. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Work Experience

Previous experience working with the public would be really useful for this career.

Progression

Ergonomists can progress to team leader and project manager posts in their organisations. Some experienced Ergonomists become self-employed consultants.

Qualifications

For entry to the degree course in ergonomics, the typical offer is:

  • 3 A levels (or 2 A levels and 2 AS levels)
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • GCSE maths at grade C/4 or above

Alternative entry requirements include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

However, course requirements vary, so please check college/university websites very carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree course, a college or university Access course could be the way in. These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Further Information

Professional institutesProfessional institutes have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

The Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors is the main professional institute for this career.

University of Derby

Address: Kedleston Road, Derby DE22 1GB

Tel: 01332 590500

Email: askadmissions@derby.ac.uk

Website: www.derby.ac.uk

Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (IEHF)

Address: Elms Court, Elms Grove, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 1RG

Tel: 01509 234904

Email: iehf@ergonomics.org.uk

Website: www.ergonomics.org.uk

Ergonomics 4 Schools

Publisher: Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (IEHF)

Email: iehf@ergonomics.org.uk

Website: www.ergonomics4schools.com

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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