Those looking to specialize in the field of human factors science, sometimes called ergonomics, must understand how humans work, how machines work, and how these two interact in order to find new ways to work together in a safer and more efficient way. . In other words, human factors jobs require employees to take human capabilities and limits into account in order to optimally organize their activities and design the most efficient professional equipment and consumer goods possible. The broad nature of this goal translates to many types of human factors jobs in a variety of fields, such as engineering, statistics, industrial design, and psychology.
Many companies that produce commercial products hire ergonomics experts to develop products designed with the human interface in mind. For example, many software companies offer positions to software engineers who have a background in human factors. There are also many human factors jobs with various military branches where human factors engineers are responsible for the development of ergonomic military equipment. Some human factors employees who work in this capacity are concerned with such things as optimizing pilot safety and improving the performance of aircraft as they interact.
Often, a higher degree, such as a master’s degree or doctor of philosophy (PhD), is required for these types of positions. Human factors engineers who create consumer products must research the particular needs and wants of those who will use their finished product. They should implement your design, then test your product while it’s in use so they can make any necessary changes.
Other human factors related jobs are less related to product design and more to organizing the workspace for clients. Many companies hire an ergonomics expert to assess their employees’ workspace. These experts are responsible for designing a workspace that optimizes human safety, comfort, and the ability of employees to produce work at optimal levels. For example, human factors specialists were brought in to optimize the design of the International Space Station to make sure the astronauts who lived and worked there were comfortable.
Human factors specialists can choose to work for a company or work independently as consultants. Working independently, specialists can take on human factors jobs from a variety of companies. This could involve designing products for many companies or going from company to company to assess available workspace.