What do Human Factors Engineers and Ergonomists do?

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.

  • 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.

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Necessary Skills

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Critical Thinking
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
  • Mathematics
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Monitoring