The steps to becoming an ergonomics specialist or Ergonomist are more confusing than any other job I’ve researched, and it seems that the businesses that offer certification want to keep it that way.
Ergonomics is not rocket science, and certification isn’t even required in the U.S.
The easiest way to get started in ergonomics is by studying the resources already available by your local government, take a course, find a mentor, and get a job.
In this post, I’ll share a few simple ways to get started in ergonomics.
Choose a specific field
As an Ergonomist, you work for yourself or a business. Most professionals in ergonomics do office assessments, but the options are endless.
You might discover that your passion for ergonomics is industrial engineering or you may just stick to office ergonomics.
Either way, it’s important to explore different fields, so you can discover your niche.
Study the Resources available
Courses can be expensive, so check out all the free resources available first. Here are a few places that might help.
Take a course
One of the best ways to get started in ergonomics is to take a course, but don’t take just any course. Find out what you want to do, and take a course specific to that specialty.
If you only want to do office ergonomics, take a course on that. I made the mistake of taking a broad ergonomics course, and after taking the course, I didn’t feel like I had any skills related to a specific field.
If you’re just getting started and want to learn office ergonomics, I created a step-by-step program to help you get started. The course goes over ergonomics basics, office evaluations, assessment tools, documentation, remote assessments, and much more.
If you’re serious about ergonomics, I recommend becoming certified by BCPE. You’ll need a bachelors degree, 3 years experience as an ergonomist, and take a 3 hour test to become board certified. You’ll then be considered an expert in the field and much more marketable.
Here’s a list of certification programs for PT and OT.
|My office Ergonomics course||$499|
|The back school||$525 (CEAS I)|
|Roy Matheson Certification||$1200 (3 day course)|
Find a mentor
One the best way to learn ergonomics is to find a mentor you can observe. This is a great starting point, because they will have methods, checklists, assessment tools, and other tips and tricks specific to your preferred field.
It’s also just easier to start doing assessments after watching someone. This will help you learn what they do first, assessment tools used, and how they document and follow up.
I don’t have a mentor?
If you don’t have a mentor, you can still be a great ergonomist, but I would recommend taking some courses first. You might also consider finding ergonomists online. I would check out ergonomists on instagram, facebook groups, or just search for specialists in your state.
Make a list of questions like these
- What’s your process for doing an evaluation
- What’s the most important part of your evaluation
- Do you have a list of recommended equipment
- How do you write up your report
- Can you provide you samples of documentation
- Would you be willing to be a mentor
Learn an assessment
Using an assessment in your ergonomics evaluation can help you identify risks and provide an objective score to provide a standard of care.
If you’re doing an evaluation for a business, an assessment tool is an objective measurement that can legitimize your recommendations.
Popular assessment tools include
- WEAR industrial
- WEAR Office
- WEAR healthcare
The back school has a great list of assessment tools you can find here.
Make a checklist
A checklist can be helpful, because there are too many things to remember when doing an evaluation.
When I started working as a new OT, it helped to have a checklist to do a thorough assessment. I actually find that when I don’t use a checklist I often miss important components of an evaluation.
If you’re doing an office assessment, OSHA has a really great checklist to help you get started. Eventually, you may want to modify the checklist and make it your own to make your evaluation quicker.
During your assessment you will make simple recommendations to correct postures, avoid awkward positions, and prevent future injuries. While you should include these recommendations in your documentation, you should also provide a list of recommended equipment.
If you are just doing an office assessment, you might recommend a type of mouse, keyboard tray, or adjustable monitor stand. You might also make recommendations for an annual assessment.
If you’re not sure what equipment to recommend, talk with other ergonomics professionals and ask for a list they typically use.
Compile a list, so it’s easy to copy and paste in your documentation.
Start a business in ergonomics
Here are some key points that might be helpful to start a business in ergonomics.
- See how many ergonomic specialists are in your area
- Decide on your target audience and if there is a need for your service
- File for an LLC to protect your business
- Register your business with the state
- Refer outpatient clinics to your business
- Contract with business in your area for ergonomic training and consultations
Marketing your services is crucial because there are people out there who need your help right now. They’re working remotely, dealing with pain, and they think this is the cost of working at a desk job.
Marketing your services takes effort and the sooner you get started, the more it will pay off. It may take 15-20 attempts to attract your client but the key is finding what can help to attract them to your business.
There’s not a better time to start a job in ergonomics. For most of us working in healthcare, this might be a breath of fresh air. Find your niche and start learning as much as you can to market your services.
If you feel stuck, look for ways to start at your current job.
I hope this was helpful. To learn other tips in ergonomics check out my other posts here.
David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.