Ergonomist

human factors specialist
Healthcare
Create

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would help to design equipment and workplaces which are easier and more comfortable for people to use.

You’d use your knowledge of anatomy, physiology and psychology to research:

  • The way muscles and limbs work
  • The physical capabilities and limitations of the body
  • How environmental factors such as noise, heat and lighting affect people
  • How people think and behave when they use equipment and systems

You’d combine this information with your knowledge of industrial sociology to influence the manufacture of equipment so that it’s better suited to people’s needs.

You’d try to develop equipment and systems that are easy to use. This means they are less likely to lead to errors and will be more efficient.

You’d also suggest changes to the set-up and organisation of workplaces and processes.

Your work would vary depending on the particular job, but you could:

  • Design office layouts
  • Advise on suitable furniture and equipment
  • Advise on the organisation of production lines and workstations
  • Design equipment for people with disabilities
  • Change vehicle design make them safer for drivers and passengers
  • Test new designs with users and give feedback to the manufacturer or client
  • Act as an expert witness in cases of industrial injury

You could also be involved in research or teaching.

Working conditions

Hours

In many jobs you’ll work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but hours can vary depending on the employer and the project you’re working on.

Environment

Your time will be divided between working in an office, and visiting clients and sites. A lot of your work will be computer-based, involving the use of design software and computer aided design (CAD) systems. You’ll also use a variety of equipment for measuring and making calculations.

Travel

You will travel to visit clients and sites.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Researching and investigating
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There is no set route into this career but it is highly competitive.  

Most ergonomists have:

  • a degree (SCQF level 9/10) or postgraduate qualifications (SCQF level 11) in ergonomics and human factors, engineering psychology with ergonomics
  • or a relevant degree (SCFQ level 9/10) in areas such as physiology, occupational therapy, product design, engineering or sports science

Your degree would be combined with short courses from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (IEHF).

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

To enter a postgraduate course (SCQF level 11) you will usually require an honours degree in a relevant subject.

Loughborough University is the only university in the UK that runs undergraduate courses in ergonomics and human factors, but many courses in design, computer science and engineering offer modules in ergonomics.

Heriot-Watt University runs a postgraduate MSc in Engineering Psychology with Ergonomics (SCQF level 11), including a distance learning option. 

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • English (required by most courses)
  • Sciences subjects in particular biology or human biology (required by most courses) 
  • Design subjects such as design and manufacture
  • Engineering science
  • Psychology
  • Care
  • Physical education