Career Opportunities in Human Factors and Ergonomics
Work in the field of human factors and ergonomics is exciting, challenging and rewarding. Human factors professionals apply their expertise to the many problems people encounter with systems they use for work or in their personal lives. Solutions to these problems often involve a combination of product design, user training and refinement of procedures for using or maintaining the products or systems. Among the areas of application are computer hardware and software, aerospace systems, communication, training, transportation, military systems, consumer products and medical devices. In fact, human factors expertise can be of value in nearly any industry.
Our professional society, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), operates a Placement Service and has a wealth of information on their website.
Where do our alumni work?
Whether you prefer an academic environment, private industry, government or the military, employment opportunities in human factors are numerous and wide ranging. See recent Human Factors alumni profiles.
Human factors professionals work in a wide variety of industries. Jobs range from research positions to management of product development teams, with titles such as human factors engineer, human-systems integration specialist, ergonomist, safety scientist, technical specialist and research scientist.
Some Human Factors industry employers include:
- Aviation/Aerospace: Boeing, Ford Aerospace, General Dynamics, Hughes, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rockwell Collins, TRW, General Electric
- Automotive: John Deere, General Motors, Nissan, Ford, Toyota
- Communications: AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Century Link, Verizon Communication
- Computers: Compaq, Intel, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NCR, Oracle, XEROX
- Insurance: Travelers, Liberty Mutual, State Farm
Many human factors professionals work in state and private colleges and universities. Faculty positions range from research associate (often filled by graduate students) to full professor, both part-time and full-time.
Military-Related Research Centers
Several research laboratories across the services employ human factors professionals. Examples include the Army's Human Engineering Laboratory, Naval Ocean Systems Center, Naval Training Systems Center, Air Force Armstrong Laboratory (medical research) and Air Force Human Resources Laboratory.
Agency employers include the National Research Council, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Academy of Sciences, National Transportation Safety Board, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Human factors professionals also work in city and state agencies.
Independent Research and Consulting Organizations
Examples include American Institutes for Research, Anacapa Sciences, BBN Laboratories, Essex Corporation and the MITRE Corporation.
Human factors professionals offer their services as consultants on a permanent or temporary basis, either full-time or part-time. Some consult part-time in addition to a permanent full-time job. Human factors consultants are often retained by trial lawyers to provide expert witness services in areas such as accidents, consumer product design and safety.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society periodically conducts surveys to collect information about salary levels in all areas of human factors employment. The results indicate salaries increase at about the level of inflation from year to year. Not surprisingly, professionals who have obtained a Ph.D. earn more than those with less education. In general, positions within industry are the highest paying, followed by academia and then government agencies. A recent Salary Survey can be obtained at http://www.hfes.org
Our recent graduates have found employment with:
Some Related Professions
Some related professions include architectural psychology, biomedical engineering, biophysics, biotechnology, engineering psychology, environmental engineering, industrial anthropology, industrial design, industrial engineering, industrial psychology, organizational psychology, safety engineering and systems safety.