Any time you interact with a new electronic device, chances are you’re seeing the results of a human factors and engineering psychologist. Human factors and engineering psychologists use their knowledge of how the human brain works and engineering processes to help design products we use every day, like global positioning systems, cell phones and life-saving medical equipment. Their goal is to create products that are easy to use based on how the brain processes information.
Many career paths are available within this particular field of psychology, as human factors and engineering psychologists study how humans interact with machines, tasks and their environment. In this branch of psychology, you could have the chance to work in many different environments, like software development, the aviation industry and the medical field. They may have titles like “user experience researcher” or “user experience architect.”
Some with doctorate degrees may go on to work in post-secondary education and teach courses in applied psychology, or become researchers and work on experiments and ways to maximize understanding of the field.
One way human factors and engineering psychologists are helping to change the consumer online experience is by testing whether or not people respond better to ChatBots in an online customer service setting. Students at Bentley University, in partnership with NeuraFlash, did a study involving more than 100 people to see how they’d respond to ChatBots, and if they would help or hurt a company’s online presence. The study showed that 100% of the respondents preferred interacting with a ChatBot if it saves time and resolves issues quickly.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not supply specific data on human factors and engineering psychologists, but the field of psychology is expected to grow by 19% from 2014-2024. The average salary for psychologists in 2015 was $72,580, but this could increase or decrease based on education and experience.
Most human factors and engineering psychologists begin with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and go on to earn a master’s degree, typically a two-year commitment, and a doctorate degree, an additional four-year requirement. Also, most will study not only psychology, but also engineering to gain a better understanding of how the two can integrate with each other. Certification is also an option on top of the degrees, but check with your state to see what the requirements are as they vary by state.
Think human factors and engineering psychology is right for you? Human factors and engineering psychologists require many different skills to succeed in their field, but some of the skills needed are:
- Understanding how the human brain reacts in different situations
- Comprehending how various devices and products work
- Performing research on a regular basis
- Communicating clearly with co-workers, programmers and product engineers
- Writing and presenting well
- Flexibility in switching tasks quickly
- Interacting with multifaceted teams