Ergonomics, or human engineering, is an applied science that coordinates the requirements of a job, its equipment, and the surrounding workplace with the capabilities of human workers, with an emphasis on safety. It is also the science of designing equipment to improve operator vigor, comfort, and prevent injury. Globally, there are numerous diverse jobs within the science of ergonomics, ranging from technical, scientific jobs to more people-orientated jobs. Ergonomics jobs are available in both the public and private sectors, and the education required for these jobs ranges from certifications that a person earns in a few months to doctorate degrees that take years of study.
Different companies use different terminology to title ergonomics jobs within their firm. A position named Safety & Ergonomics Analyst at one company may be called an Ergonomic Risk Analyst at another. The word ergonomics often does not appear in the job title, such as Safety Specialist or Occupational Health Nurse.
There are various types of ergonomics jobs that require an ergonomics certification or degree. Many industries that historically have high injury rates, such as mining, electric power, and manufacturing businesses, need employees with ergonomics degrees to analyze job risks and implement safety procedures. Some consulting firms hire ergonomics specialists to consult with their clients. Employment agencies often list these jobs under scientific, technical, or management consulting services.
Managers of public places, including hospitals, colleges, universities, and shopping malls, often want a person on the staff who has an ergonomics degree. This job usually entails analyzing the building for public safety hazards, implementing a safety policy, leading accident investigations, dealing with government regulations, and maintaining records. Other ergonomics jobs in this area can include working for large firms that supply ergonomists to businesses on a per-hour basis. An ergonomist typically provides ergonomics assessments and training for the business, such as an office complex, small industrial company, or retail store.
People with ergonomics degrees sometimes have a second degree, which allows them to find a special niche for their business or employment. For example, an architect may use an ergonomics degree to design safer buildings or to tailor a workplace to a specific job. Knowledge of ergonomics may help an architect to retro fit a living or working space for a person with limited capabilities or design rehabilitation facilities. Another example is a person with a nursing degree who expands into a career of occupational health nursing.
Generally, people with an ergonomics degree can choose work in a multitude of environments that require different skills. Ergonomic jobs typically are divided into two distinct branches of work: workplace safety and the design of devices, products, or equipment. The International Space Station and Space Shuttles are ergonomically designed with the occupants' safety in mind, as are submarines and ships. Ergonomists often design or study the devices on these vehicles.
Ergonomics jobs can include the study of ergonomics, such as professors, human factoring, or writers who specialize in the field of ergonomics. Since the field of ergonomics is ever-changing, people normally need to be informed of these changes. Human resource managers, union leaders, and others who deal with people in their workplaces usually want to know about how ergonomics can improve their workers' performance and safety. Generally, ergonomics jobs in the communications field offer many career opportunities.