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How Do I Become a Usability Engineer?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Although a master's degree is not always required to become a usability engineer, most large corporations may prefer that you have an advanced degree in a related field. This career is based on assessing human behavior in reference to technical products. You may wish to choose an area of psychology for your undergraduate major, which can include experimental or cognitive psychology. Some students may choose to major in computer science and take various psychology electives to become a usability engineer. Regardless of the major that you choose, you will need to excel in field-related coursework and display proficiency in hands-on training experiences.

If you have opted to pursue the most common degree in this field, a psychology field, it's crucial to focus on subjects relating to human behavior. In addition to basic psychology, this may include classes such as social psychology, cognitive psychology, and experimental psychology. Another way to prepare for this career during your college years is to consider taking several advanced human-computer interaction courses, if they are available at your campus. Classes in this field usually include applications of cognitive science, human-computer interaction methods, and designing human-centered software. Most of these computer science courses are accompanied by computer lab work, which will prepare you to become a usability engineer.

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During your undergraduate studies, you may want to discuss experience opportunities with your professors. Internships can be an excellent way to gain experience in your designated field, as they allow you apply your knowledge to hands-on work. Participating in one or more internships will improve your chances to become a usability engineer because most companies may prefer that you are knowledgeable in several areas of the field. The opportunity to observe and assist other professionals in the field will significantly familiarize you with the inner-workings of the industry.

After graduation, you may be able to gain entry-level employment in the field, gaining valuable experience. You may also choose to seek a master's degree in experimental psychology or a human-computer interaction related field. Working well with others can be important in this position, because in most cases, you will work as part of a team of professionals.

Technical skills will also be required to become a usability engineer. Be sure to list all field experience including internships or volunteer work on your resume as you prepare to seek employment. Aside from experience and an advanced education, you should also have excellent communication skills, technical writing abilities, and a working knowledge of the field.

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