No, You Can’t Train to Become a Certified Ergonomist in 6 Weeks.

Buyer beware. You can’t become a certified ergonomist overnight. Keeping a good track record of low injury statistics is vital to an organization’s reputation and pocket book. That’s why health and safety initiatives play an integral role in a company’s structure and planning – that’s also why “ergonomics” is not only a popular word, it’s a service that’s becoming high in demand. Unfortunately, the term is still often misunderstood and perhaps overused by the marketing world to promote products and services. We all know that ergonomics is a good thing and will make us feel and work better. Think about the last time you chose one keyboard over another because the description on the box said “ergonomic keyboard.” It must, therefore, be good for you – but do you know why? How do you know that it’s ergonomically correct? Because the manufacturing company says so? In a similar matter, many individuals have contacted our office wanting to know if we offer courses to become an ergonomist. Organizations themselves look for continuing education courses for their in-house staff to be the staff ergonomist. There are many courses that one can take to understand the fundamentals of ergonomics and the process to identify risks or set up a workstation properly or even how to apply ergonomics in one’s workplace. These are great courses to enhance a safety officer’s knowledge and education in their field. EWI Works consultants actually teach these courses as part of the University of Alberta and University of Calgary continuing education courses. However, this does not make one a certified ergonomist. Qualified ergonomists, like doctors and engineers, have several years worth of post secondary education – many in the areas of kinesiology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, engineering, industrial design and psychology. Loughborough University in the UK offers three ergonomics degree programs. Certified ergonomists gain certification through a review of their education and professional experience by a board such as the Canadian College for the Certification of Professional Ergonomists or the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics in the United States. A great majority of these professionals in Canada are members of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists. Be wary of anyone offering 6-8 week courses to become a certified ergonomist. Do your research. It’s an exciting and promising field – just make sure you invest your money wisely.

Becoming a Certified Ergonomist

It’s a long road to full certification in Canada and the United States. In the first stage, there is a review of a minimum number of instructional hours in recognized courses through a university or college program and the applicant must verify these courses have covered six areas of knowledge:
    • Ergonomics
    • Ergonomic approaches to people at work
    • Human characteristics and humans at work
    • Supporting coursework in quantitative and qualitative design and analysis (for example)
    • Application areas (such as workplace or information design, training and instruction, or work-related musculoskeletal disorders)
    • Direct application of knowledge through fieldwork or work placement
Upon recognition of the educational requirements, an ergonomist can be designated as an Associate Ergonomist. Certification actually comes after the second stage where the ergonomist submits proof of professional experience requirements. At minimum, this can be four full time years with one mentored year; five full time years or 10 full time years for Mature Candidates. The work products, logs or employment history and curriculum vitae must demonstrate work in four core competencies:
    • Preliminary project definition
    • Systematic Analysis
    • Participation in the Design Process
    • Other Competencies
Again, the professional experience is reviewed by the board and if deemed acceptable to the board’s highest standards, certification is awarded. Being certified in a field can mean many things but when it comes to ergonomics, there is a certain process that must be followed before being able to declare oneself as being a certified ergonomist. Often, an organization will require proof of this certification in an RFP by requiring a copy of the certificate in addition to the certificate’s registration number. If this can’t be provided, the ergonomist is not certified. Again, it is important to understand what is involved in order to become a certified ergonomist or an organization must be aware of what kind of proof is required by someone claiming to be a certified ergonomist. Do your research and invest in your education or ergonomic services wisely. EWI Works offers many services that can improve your quality of life. Find out more about our Online Training,Services, and Resources.  Follow us on Twitter for more updates and offers, or sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our homepage.