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Div. 21 is at the intersection of psychology and technology. It is a growing field with immense potential for rewarding career opportunities. If you have a creative, exploring mind, an inclination toward research and practice, work well in a team setting, and have an abiding interest in psychology, you most likely have a bright future in Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology.

For the laboratory psychologist or engineer who is interested in redirecting, but not completely redefining, his or her career path, Div. 21 presents an attractive option. This field is tethered in an applied setting, yet issues are addressed that overlap with many domains of psychology including: experimental psychology, clinical and counseling psychology, educational psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, military psychology, and consumer psychology.

Work settings range from the classroom to laboratory, from private firms to government agencies. Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology aims at developing human-centered approaches to the design of myriad objects, machines, and systems. Specialists may help with the design of instruments and controls on space shuttles, air traffic control centers, ships, planes, and other vehicles. Another common area of practice is in the development of simulations to enhance communications, improve training, and evaluate crew resource management. Human-computer interaction and information technology applications are prominent themes pertaining to the design, deployment, and evaluation of such information systems.

In addition, Div. 21 is increasingly employed in design and evaluation of medical instrumentation and processes, as well as forensic work involving product and workplace safety. Efforts are also directed toward improved techniques that monitor and enhance human performance in operational environments, and to develop countermeasures that will reduce fatigue-related performance changes in humans operating in a 24-hour society.

Opportunities exist and are constantly expanding in all major employer groups: government, not-for-profit institutions, consulting firms, private industry, and academic institutions. For example, government work areas include the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, National Aviation and Space Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, among others.

Salaries are competitive with those of engineers and other professionals who work in similar settings.

Some typical work descriptions in various fields are:

  • Developing, designing, and evaluating products used by consumers

  • Improving human interaction within various environments including the home, office, and industrial settings

  • Maximizing the ease and effectiveness of medical devices and instrumentation

  • Designing optimal human centered computer systems and interfaces.

Academia: Professor/Researcher/Administrator
  • Exploring techniques that optimize performance when the user is compromised by fatigue, distraction, or excessive demands

  • Exploring individual differences in personality and performance on tasks.

  • Conducting research in specific fields such as aging, transportation, vision, perception, etc.

  • Researching, designing, and evaluating optimal tools and technologies for the military

  • Improving existing healthcare systems through human factors design

  • Personnel psychologist

  • Environmental research psychologist

Non-profit Organization
  • Staff scientist and analyst

Date created: 2012

Related Resources

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied