From OT/OTA to Ergonomist: Step by Step Job GuideOct 19, 2021
From OT/COTA to Ergonomist:
Step by Step Job Guide
If you are tired of your physical therapy position, suffering from too much physical pain to continue OT/OTA, or want to work from some amazing companies like Intel or Warby Parker then I’m excited to walk you through how you can transition from physical therapist or assistant to an ergonomist!
Why are OT’s and COTA's a perfect fit to transition to ergonomists?
- You have one of the strongest backgrounds in anatomy and physiology
- You know how to quickly help reduce or prevent physical injury and pain
- You are skilled educators on preventing injury and pain
- You have a license and degree to back up your knowledge
You were essentially made for this position. You know how to help people prevent injury and pain, reduce their pain, and provide patient education.
If you think about it, you likely are already performing ergonomics….have you ever asked someone about their work history, work positioning and equipment and work duties? And have you ever recommended equipment or exercises due to work related injuries or pain? If yes, then you are already doing ergonomics!
What do Occupational Therapists and Assistants need to transition into ergonomics?
The awesome thing is that unlike some new career tracks, you need nothing or at most a certification!
While you may not need a certification, here are several certifications out there:
- Board Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE) :
This is the toughest certification and is a national board certification. In the U.S you do not need this, but in some places like Canada, this is required. This certification takes years to complete and costs several thousands of dollars.
- CEAS I, II, III: Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist:
This is a much more typical certification. It costs $645 and is an online certification that you can get in one day.
This certification is for 1 year access only, no support, no updates, no business nor career section.
- Injury Prevention Specialist – Office Ergonomics and Injury Prevention Specialist-Industrial Ergonomics are our certifications.
They cost $400 each and allow for lifetime access to all recordings and materials
Contains an in-depth career section with resume and cover letter templates, interview questions and answers, and job search list filled with key search terms and most common companies to hire to get your foot in the door.
We also offer email and private Facebook group support
Why should OT’s and COTA's look into transitioning into a ergonomic position?
- It pays similar to your clinical salary
- It has very little physical labor
- It often does not involve insurance (woohoo, no more headaches! Well, much less at least!)
- Your care is about prevention. Which we all know we wish we could do as PTs!
- No or little extra education required
Overall, this position is almost what we all dreamed OT was! While it’s not perfect, as an ergonomist, you get to help people before their pain is too much, you don’t have the crazy limitations from insurance (nor the crazy paperwork), and the physical labor is much less!
What does a day in the life of ergonomist look like?
So first, your day may depend on where you work. There are essentially 2 different settings – industrial and office. Office based positions often are with companies like Intel or more computer based companies. Industrial based positions are with companies that make paper, cars, print, tools – more assembly line type of companies.
But your day may entail:
- Providing individual or group education on hydration, preventing low back pain, preventing upper back pain, preventing neck pain, or preventing carpal tunnel
- Providing assessments of individual work stations
- Providing assessments of assembly lines or how workers lift materials into cars or other labor intensive duties
- Providing health coaching and basic exercises to address individuals pain or prevention of pain
- Paperwork to document the above activities
Okay, now for the guide to getting an ergonomic position!
Step 1: Ergonomic Resume Editing – What are ergonomic companies looking for?
First, this article has our in depth guide to resume editing: https://www.alternativehealthcarecareers.com/blog/alternative-healthcare-resume
But to focus on ergonomics, make these changes:
1. Review the job post and add the key terms you see within the ergonomic job posting. These would be works like risk assessment, OSHA, Job Hazard Analysis, Industrial wellness education
2. Optimize your work experience to focus on more ergonomic terms. We go through this much more in-depth in our Injury Prevention Certifications but here are some examples of what to try to adjust under each work experience:
- Emphasize how your therapy experience translates into injury prevention, patient education, and pain reduction
- Emphasize how you already have been doing ergonomics with your patients, assessing their work set up and postural symptoms
- Emphasize your strong physiology knowledge and communication abilities
- Include any relevant CEUs or certifications to help you stand out
- Make your introduction paragraph shine with proof that you already have been treating patients, educating them and are knowledgeable in ergonomics
Step 2: Ergonomic Job Searching – What titles or works should I be putting in to by search for ergonomic positions?
The first thing to know is that there are many terms for ergonomic positions, and as a result you may want to vary your search terms.
Here are a few to start with on your search in Indeed:
- Ergonomic specialist
- Health educator
- Injury prevention specialist
- Ergonomics and injury prevention specialist
- WHS specialist
While Indeed is a great website to look for jobs, I also encourage you to look for companies locally to you and do direct research on their site. Even if on a local companies website, you do not see listed jobs but you think they would be a good fit for you – I would directly email them and see what happens!
Step 3: Acing your Ergonomic Interview – What questions will I get asked, and how to answer them:
We go through this much more in-depth in our Injury Prevention Certifications but here are some examples:
- Provide me an example of ergonomics prevention exercise and treatment you did? Provide an example of patient or clinical care
- Provide an example of a health education presentation you have done? Provide an example from your patient care or clinical care
- Are you familiar with OSHA – what does it stand for and what are it’s standards and rules/policies? This is a helpful website to learn more about OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs
- What are 3 primary ergonomic risk factors? High Task Repetition, Forceful Exertions, Repetitive/Sustained Awkward Postures
- What would you do if an injury happened on your watch on the assembly line?
Why do you think you would be a good fit for this position? Describe your experience in clinical care, your expertise in pain prevention and education
Ready to get started in a career in ergonomics?
Check out our Ergonomics Office and Industrial Business and Career Certification program here: https://www.alternativehealthcarecareers.com/remote-ergonomics.
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