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
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Integrate human factors requirements into operational hardware.
- Train users in task techniques or ergonomic principles.
- Develop or implement research methodologies or statistical analysis plans to test and evaluate developmental prototypes used in new products or processes, such as cockpit designs, user workstations, or computerized human models.
- Provide technical support to clients through activities such as rearranging workplace fixtures to reduce physical hazards or discomfort or modifying task sequences to reduce cycle time.
- Inspect work sites to identify physical hazards.
- Analyze complex systems to determine potential for further development, production, interoperability, compatibility, or usefulness in a particular area, such as aviation.
- Develop or implement human performance research, investigation, or analysis protocols.
- Write, review, or comment on documents, such as proposals, test plans, or procedures.
- Apply modeling or quantitative analysis to forecast events, such as human decisions or behaviors, the structure or processes of organizations, or the attitudes or actions of human groups.
- Establish system operating or training requirements to ensure optimized human-machine interfaces.
- Perform statistical analyses, such as social network pattern analysis, network modeling, discrete event simulation, agent-based modeling, statistical natural language processing, computational sociology, mathematical optimization, or systems dynamics.
- Provide human factors technical expertise on topics such as advanced user-interface technology development or the role of human users in automated or autonomous sub-systems in advanced vehicle systems.
- Operate testing equipment, such as heat stress meters, octave band analyzers, motion analysis equipment, inclinometers, light meters, velometers, sling psychrometers, or colormetric detection tubes.
- Investigate theoretical or conceptual issues, such as the human design considerations of lunar landers or habitats.
- Estimate time or resource requirements for ergonomic or human factors research or development projects.
- Design cognitive aids, such as procedural storyboards or decision support systems.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Air velocity and temperature monitors — Velometers
- Aircraft flight simulators or trainers — Flight simulation equipment
- Cardiac output CO monitoring units or accessories — Heart rate monitors
- Compression testers — Digital force gauges
- Desktop computers
- Digital camcorders or video cameras — Digital video cameras; Video goggles
- Digital voice recorders — Digital audio recorders
- Distance meters — Electronic distance measuring devices
- Dynamometers — Hand dynamometers; Isokinetic dynamometers; Push/pull dynamometers
- Electrocardiography EKG units — Electrocardiography EKG monitors
- Electroencephalograph EEG or accessories — Electroencephalography EEG equipment
- Electromyography EMG units or accessories — Electromyograph processing systems
- Electronic blood pressure units — Automated blood pressure measurement equipment
- Flowmeters — Laser Doppler flowmeters
- Heat stress monitors — Heat stress meters
- Laser printers — Computer laser printers
- Lightmeters — Light meters
- Mercury blood pressure units — Manual blood pressure measurement equipment
- Multimedia projectors — Video projectors
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers
- Oxygen gas analyzers — Oxygen analyzers
- Personal computers
- Physiological recorders — Electromagnetic motion analysis systems; Hand sensor gloves; Inclinometers; Lumbar motion monitors (see all 7 examples)
- Psychrometers — Sling psychrometers
- Skinfold calipers — Body fat measurement calipers
- Sound measuring apparatus or decibel meter — Noise meters; Octave band analyzers
- Tablet computers
- Thickness measuring devices — Anthropometers
- Touch pads — Haptic devices
- Touch screen monitors — Interactive whiteboards
- Treadmills — Exercise treadmills
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 (see all 19 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software
- Development environment software — National Instruments LabVIEW
- 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 Photoshop software; Microsoft Visio (see all 5 examples)
- Internet browser software — Apple Safari; Microsoft Internet Explorer; Mozilla Firefox
- Object or component oriented development software — C++; Oracle Java
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Program testing software — TechSmith Morae
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Video creation and editing software — TechSmith Camtasia
- Web page creation and editing software — Adobe Systems Adobe Dreamweaver
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
- 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.
- 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.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Technology Design — Generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- 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.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- 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.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
Detailed Work Activities
- Analyze operational data to evaluate operations, processes or products.
- Develop technical methods or processes.
- Document design or operational test results.
- Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
- Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
- Research human performance or health factors related to engineering or design activities.
- Advise others on health and safety issues.
- Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
- Inspect facilities or sites to determine if they meet specifications or standards.
- Prepare proposal documents.
- Investigate safety of work environment.
- Estimate technical or resource requirements for development or production projects.
- Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
- Assess product or process usefulness.
- Prepare procedural documents.
- Create models of engineering designs or methods.
- Devise research or testing protocols.
- Determine operational criteria or specifications.
- Estimate time requirements for development or production projects.
- Electronic Mail — 96% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 54% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Telephone — 50% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 58% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 54% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 43% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 50% responded “More than half the time.”
- Contact With Others — 33% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 38% responded “Very important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 58% responded “40 hours.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 46% responded “Important results.”
- Time Pressure — 50% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 29% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Level of Competition — 38% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 29% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 42% responded “Limited responsibility.”
|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, sports medicine physicians, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
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.
- 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.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- 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.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wages data collected from Industrial Engineers.
Employment data collected from Industrial Engineers.
Industry data collected from Industrial Engineers.
|Median wages (2014)||$39.18 hourly, $81,490 annual|
|Employment (2014)||241,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Little or no change (-1% to 1%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||72,800|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
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 . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.