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Summary Report for:
17-2112.01 - Human Factors Engineers and Ergonomists

Design objects, facilities, and environments to optimize human well-being and overall system performance, applying theory, principles, and data regarding the relationship between humans and respective technology. Investigate and analyze characteristics of human behavior and performance as it relates to the use of technology.

Sample of reported job titles: Consultant in Ergonomics and Safety; Ergonomist; Human Factors Advisor, Lead; Human Factors Engineer; Human Factors Scientist; Managing Cognitive Engineer; PI/Senior Research Associate; Principal Engineer; Senior Research Associate; User Experience Team Lead

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • Design or evaluate human work systems, using human factors engineering and ergonomic principles to optimize usability, cost, quality, safety, or performance.
  • Collect data through direct observation of work activities or witnessing the conduct of tests.
  • Conduct interviews or surveys of users or customers to collect information on topics such as requirements, needs, fatigue, ergonomics, or interfaces.
  • Prepare reports or presentations summarizing results or conclusions of human factors engineering or ergonomics activities, such as testing, investigation, or validation.
  • Recommend workplace changes to improve health and safety, using knowledge of potentially harmful factors, such as heavy loads or repetitive motions.
  • Assess the user-interface or usability characteristics of products.
  • Review health, safety, accident, or worker compensation records to evaluate safety program effectiveness or to identify jobs with high incidents of injury.
  • Perform functional, task, or anthropometric analysis, using tools such as checklists, surveys, videotaping or force measurement.
  • Advocate for end users in collaboration with other professionals including engineers, designers, managers, or customers.
  • Conduct research to evaluate potential solutions related to changes in equipment design, procedures, manpower, personnel, or training.

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

Digital camcorders or video cameras — Digital video cameras; Video goggles
Dynamometers — Hand dynamometers; Isokinetic dynamometers; Push/pull dynamometers
Oxygen gas analyzers — Oxygen analyzers
Physiological recorders — Electromagnetic motion analysis systems; Hand sensor gloves; Inclinometers; Lumbar motion monitors
Sound measuring apparatus or decibel meter — Noise meters; Octave band analyzers

Technology used in this occupation:

Analytical or scientific software — SAS software; The MathWorks MATLAB; Thought Technology BioGraph Infiniti; Triangle Research Collaborative Observational Coding System OCS Tools Software
Graphical user interface development software — Altia software; Seeing Machines faceLAB
Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Fireworks; Adobe Systems Adobe Flash; Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator; Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop software
Internet browser software — Apple Safari; Microsoft Internet Explorer *; Mozilla Firefox *
Web platform development software — Dynamic hypertext markup language DHTML; Hypertext markup language HTML; JavaScript; jQuery *

* Software developed by a government agency and/or distributed as freeware or shareware.

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Knowledge

Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

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Skills

Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

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Abilities

Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

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Work Activities

Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

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Work Context

Electronic Mail — How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
Face-to-Face Discussions — How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
Telephone — How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
Structured versus Unstructured Work — To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
Freedom to Make Decisions — How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
Work With Work Group or Team — How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
Spend Time Sitting — How much does this job require sitting?
Contact With Others — How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
Education Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
Related Experience Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
Job Training Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
Job Zone Examples These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, aerospace engineers, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.
SVP Range (8.0 and above)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
71   Master's degree
13   Bachelor's degree
  Post-master's certificate Help

This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:

Engineering — Industrial Engineering

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Interests

Interest code: IR

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

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Work Styles

Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

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Work Values

Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

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Wages & Employment Trends

National

Median wages data collected from Industrial Engineers.
Employment data collected from Industrial Engineers.
Industry data collected from Industrial Engineers.

Median wages (2012) $37.92 hourly, $78,860 annual
Employment (2012) 223,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Slower than average (3% to 7%) Slower than average (3% to 7%)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 75,400
Top industries (2012)

State & National

          CareerOneStop

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012 wage data external site and 2012-2022 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

Find Jobs
for Human Factors Engineers and Ergonomists

          mySkills myFuture

State & National Job Banks

          CareerOneStop

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

  • Industrial Engineers external site. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

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