How to Become an Ergonomist

 

Those who become ergonomists are interested in studying and applying the scientific principles that create a good fit between people, the tools, equipment and products they use and the environments in which they live, play, travel and work.

 

Ergonomists are individuals with the mental and emotional capacity to complete the education required to become a competent professional in this field. They must have the patience to see tasks through to completion, and they must be comfortable sharing their professional opinions with others.

 

Ergonomists take great satisfaction from ensuring that the design of products, tasks and work methods are compatible with human characteristics and maximize safety and efficiency.

 

Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an ergonomist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!

 

 

Educational Requirements for Becoming an Ergonomist

To get into this field, you'll likely need at least a bachelors’ degree in a field, such as ergonomics, psychology, human kinetics, human factors, biomedical engineering or a related field. Those working in systems design typically need to have a master's degree in industrial engineering. 

 

 

 

 

General Job Description

Ergonomists are responsible for studying the relationships between people and tools, equipment, working and living environments. They apply their findings and knowledge to enhance the well being, performance, comfort and safety of individuals. Ergonomists must ensure that the design and function of products, tasks and work methods are compatible with human characteristics.

 

 

Typical Job Duties

• Observe human systems in order to evaluate and measure how people interact with each other and things such as workplace equipment, workspaces and environments

• Assess the suitability of products and systems in relation to the motor, sensory and cognitive capabilities of users and operators

• Conduct audits to gain insight as to how to improve systems

• Advise management of organizations regarding human factors in the design, evaluation and operation of products and systems

• Teach workers about body mechanics and proper work practices

• Confer with other related specialists concerning design and development problems

• Assess physical environments by using measuring instruments, subjective assessments, performance and response measurements, modeling and simulations


 

Becoming Certified

Certification as a professional ergonomist is voluntary in many provinces in Canada, although some employers may require it. Although it is largely voluntary, professional certification has many benefits for both the ergonomist and the user of the ergonomist’s services, including:

 

• Demonstrating a commitment to the profession

• An advantage over job applicants that don’t have certification

• Provides clients with confidence in the competence of the ergonomist

• Improves the quality of practice in the profession as a whole

 

There are several bodies that offer certification for ergonomists in Canada, although the CCPE (Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist) designation is the only certification in Canada that requires applicants to:

 

• Meet standard competencies in both education and practice

• Have a degree in a related field

• Have a minimum of 4 years of full-time practice

• Devote the majority of their work time to the application, practice and/or teaching of ergonomics

• Maintain their certification through a continuance of certification process

 

 

 

 

Certification in the United States In the United States

The most recognized official certification body for ergonomists in the United States is the Board of Certified Professional Ergonomists (BCPE), which offers the Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) designation. To earn this designation, a practitioner must meet the following requirements:

 

• A master’s degree in ergonomics, or an equivalent educational background in the life sciences, engineering sciences and behavioral sciences

• 3 years of full-time professional practice in ergonomics

• A passing score on the CPE written examination (an 8-hour comprehensive test)

 

 

Work Setting of Ergonomists

Ergonomists may conduct their work in a variety of settings, depending on the specific functions of their job they have to execute. They may spend their time in settings such as offices, laboratories, industrial facilities, teaching environments, retail settings, and other settings.

 

They may also spend their time working with a wide variety of people, including workers, union officials, managers, other professionals, students and the public

 

 

Average Salary Level

The salary level of Ergonomists can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, whether they work in research or applied ergonomics, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many other factors.

 

Ergonomist Salary - Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing), Albertans working in the Natural and Applied Science Policy Researchers, Consultants, and Program Officers occupational group earn an average salary of $81,207 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 9, 2019).

 

Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the median salary level of workers in the Occupational Health and Safety Specialists occupational group is $64,660 per year. 

 

 

Who Employs Them?

Ergonomists are hired by organizations that are interested in studying relationships among people, tools, equipment, and working or living environments; they are also hired by organizations that are interested in applying these principles in order to create enhance the health and safety of people in working or living environments.

 

Organizations that employ ergonomists include:

 

• Government departments concerned with occupational health and safety

• Private research institutes

• Colleges and universities

• Computer and office furniture manufacturers

• Manufacturing companies

• Heavy industrial and construction companies

• Large corporations such as utility or telecommunications companies

• Private consulting firms (such as health care and engineering)

• Self-employment (may contract their services to a variety of employers)

 

 

Ergonomist Jobs

Although job opportunities in this field are rarely posted online, from time to time they will be. Have a look below to see if there’s anything listed in your area:

 

 

Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to 'ergonomist', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.

 

Exercise Physiologist 

Kinesiologist

Occupational Therapist 

Physiologist 

Physiotherapist

 

 

References

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an ergonomist.

 

Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca

Association of Canadian Ergonomists website: www.ace-ergocanada.ca

Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics website: www.bcpe.org

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov

 

 

Scholarships for Becoming an Ergonomist

Scholarships in our database that are relevant for becoming an ergonomist are all of those that are found on the following pages:

 

Exercise Science Scholarships

Human Ecology Scholarships

Industrial Engineering Scholarships

Kinesiology Scholarships

 

Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!

 

 

Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for this profession. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!

 

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