Engineering psychology allows an individual to study human behavior and how it relates to applicable capabilities and how it relates to the design and operations of technology and systems. This applied psychological field, which is also an interdisciplinary portion of ergonomics, aims to improve upon the relationships that exist between machinery and people. This often takes place by effective interactions, specific environments that these interactions take place within, and by redesigning the way equipment works. Generally speaking, engineering psychologists work to make a variety of relationships more user friendly for all of the involved parties.
The career field of engineering psychology is a fairly new one that is sometimes referred to as human factors psychology. It is possible for these psychologists to work within governmental departments, in academic areas, in the military, in research, teaching in relation to designing products, or in manufacturing. It is important to note that in order to work within this industry you will need to obtain your master’s degree or your doctorate degree. This industry has great prospects for employment due to the ever-increasing need for technology in our society. In addition, some employment areas, such as the military, has begun hiring engineering psychologists as independent contractors. This is considered to be a win-win situation for both parties; the psychologist can work a more flexible schedule and the military does not have to hire full-time employees that will be eligible to receive full benefits.
In your capacity as an engineering psychologist, you will spend the majority of your time working to design equipment and work environments based on the needs of the users and the performance abilities. If you become employed in the research end of engineering psychology you will study many different topics, such as aging, human engineering, and cognitive ergonomics. For example, as a cognitive ergonomics researcher you will be exploring how individuals and technological devices interact. If research turns out to be your niche, you could focus on the human engineering area and study things like how different factors affect how the human brain processes certain information. Or, you could work within the focus area of aging and study how the elderly deal with their physical pain or how they operate automated systems. If none of these employment avenues seem to fit your intended goals, you could also be eligible to seek employment in areas of aviation design, automation, computer interface design, or design and implementation of medical devices. For the most part, any area that is related to how humans interact with machines or technology would be an area that you could seek employment in within this industry.
As you work to obtain your degree, you should note that the area of engineering psychology has grown significantly over the past few years and will continue to grow at a rapid pace. In addition, the related fields of industrial engineering and biomedical engineering are expected to experience similar growth. Due to the major technological influences that are evident in each of these industries, obtaining your degree in any of these areas is sure to be a good, sound professional decision. Keep in mind, due to the increased demand for highly skilled individuals in this area; it will be crucial that you have a working knowledge of all of the knowledge that is presented to you within your degree program. Any additional skills or training that you can receive during your education will help give you an edge in the job market as you begin looking for employment. Of course, reputable universities will provide you with an education that is focused on skills, coupled with practical experience, with academic learning intermingled throughout.