Engineering psychologists develop ergonomic and safer products. Engineering psychology became popular in the 1940’s as more companies considered user-friendliness while designing new products. Engineering psychology is an excellent career for creative people who enjoy designing simple to use products.
Engineering psychology has grown in importance through the years, especially following the advent of assembly-line mass production, as consumers became more interested in purchasing safer and simple to use products. As a result, companies that develop consumer goods, such as computers, chairs, televisions, etc. are constantly redesigning their products with this in mind. Engineering psychologists typically focus on perception, interactivity, and the user interface when redesigning products.
Engineering psychologists must complete extensive training to possess the skills necessary to thrive in this field. They must be excellent researchers, possess good quantitative analysis skills, and closely monitor consumer trends. During product development, engineering psychologists often distribute surveys to determine what consumers need and want.
Engineering psychologists must work well with others, have excellent communication skills since they frequently communicate with other specialists, and have above average analytical skills. Engineering psychologists must prevent personal biases from influencing product designs.
Engineering psychologists must consider the following during product development:
- Feedback: Applying consumer recommendations into new product designs and making sure products are simple and safe.
- Human Error: Developing safe products while avoiding human error during development.
- Perception: Developing products that are flashy and user-friendly.
- Profiling: Distributing adequate numbers of surveys to population samples to make sure products appeal to different groups.
Engineering psychologists typically work at scientific labs, universities, government agencies, and engineering firms.
Education and Training
Organizations that hire engineering psychologists establish their own training requirements. Aspiring engineering psychologists should complete engineering, psychology, physics, statistics, and computer science programs as undergraduates. They should also gain real-world experience by completing internships. Universities that offer graduate degree programs in engineering psychology do not require specific undergraduate degrees, but those entering this field must complete a program recognized by the Human Factor and Ergonomic Society (HFES).
Engineering psychologists with master’s degrees easily find entry-level jobs. Those with PhDs enjoy better job prospects and earning potential.
Prior Work Experience
Most organizations recruit candidates with previous engineering experience. Engineers also benefit by having IT, computer programming, and web development experience. Those interested in a specific industry should obtain applicable experience.
Job growth in this field is increasing at a high pace since all consumer product companies are constantly trying to develop safer and simpler products. Executives and other senior-level managers often meet with engineering psychologists during initial product development phases.
Many engineering psychologists work for medical technology firms. These companies are always developing new technology, so engineering psychologists are responsible for developing ergonomic and safe products.
Companies pay experienced engineering psychologists extremely well to avoid losses due to recalls and unpopular products. Talented engineering psychologists often obtain management promotions.