human factors specialist

Career outlook for ergonomist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

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


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.


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.


You will travel to visit clients and sites.

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Written communication
  • Designing
  • Problem solving
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Managing resources
  • Analysing

Skills Explorer

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.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

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

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


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