Do I Need a Master’s in Psychology to Work in Human Factors Psychology?

Human factors psychology is one of the newer and more modern fields of study. While other fields of psychology focus more on how people think and how their thoughts can influence their actions, this discipline deals more with human error and how different environmental factors can influence an individual’s actions and behaviors. You generally need a graduate degree for many jobs in this field, but some jobs require a PhD too. Learn more about this field, including the types of jobs available before you decide to study human factors.

What is the Psychology of Human Factors?

Human factors is a field of psychology that looks at human error. Those working in the field also look at ergonomics and how different types of machines and equipment can lead to workplace stress, accidents and other problems. This field also looks at the interactions between humans and computers and how workers use computers every day. It shares more in common with the business world than it does the psychology world at times, as students often need to look at how they can make a workplace safer for employees and business owners.

Types of Jobs

There are a number of different jobs in the human factors psychology field. One area that many students find interesting is product design. Before a company releases a product on the market, it goes through a number of testing stages. Psychologists working in this field use the feedback provided by testers to help the companies improve the design and user-friendliness of the products. Human factors psychologists also work as consultants for business owners. They come into an office, manufacturing facility or other type of business and look for issues and problems that may lead to accidents. Once defined, they will work help the company determine how to fix those problems.

What Degree do You Need?

There are only a few schools in the country that offer an undergraduate degree in this field. You’ll find dozens of programs available at the PhD level and even more programs available at the graduate level. While you may find a job with just a bachelor’s degree, most employers want someone with a minimum of a graduate degree. As part of this program, you will likely complete an internship with a business and do a thesis or a final project as well. Those experiences provide work experience and reference contacts that you can add to your resume when you graduate.

Salary and Outlook

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) did a survey of those working in the human factors field. The HFES found that the salary reported by workers ranged from $88,317 to more than $118,000 a year. Those working in the northwest portion of the country reported the highest annual earnings of $118,434 a year, but those working for smaller and larger companies often make around the same amount. The HFES also found that 30 percent of those surveyed reported that they would need to put a freeze on hiring or layoff a number of employees in the coming years.

Human factors essentially refers to the study of how different environmental factors influence human behavior. Those working in the field often work as consultants for large corporations. If you hope to one day work in the field of human factors psychology, you’ll find that you need either a graduate degree or your PhD first.

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