What can you do with a Human-Computer Interaction degree? 

Ready to start your journey?

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.


HCI is multidisciplinary. The prefix refers to more than one, and a discipline is a field of study. Therefore, HCI involves several academic areas, including computer science, research, sociology, psychology, engineering, and more. Today, the typewriter is a long-forgotten machine designed in 1873 by Christopher Sholes. When you pushed on one of the keys, a steel arm arced upward towards the paper, impacting a ribbon containing the ink. The impression of the specific letter on the arm against the ribbon resulted in a black letter on the paper. Although the typewriter is now archaic, the pattern of the keys remains.
The top row on any keyboard spells QWERTY by taking the first five letters from left to right. Mr. Sholes’ invention had the same order because this layout paired keys that were unlikely to be used together. Why? Two keys used together could cause a jam by locking two of the steel arms at the ribbon’s point of contact. Perhaps unknown to Mr. Sholes, he had applied human-machine interaction, a precursor to human-computer interaction. One could argue that his decision was strictly to avoid a mechanical problem – it had nothing to do with the human typist. But it did: jammed keys would cause delays and frustration for the typist.

Whether it is a smartwatch or a power tool, the design must consider the user. From a business perspective, a consumer product should meet a need, be affordable (not always), be easy to use, save time or energy, and be functional and durable. Computers are no different. They have to be user-friendly, which means easy to operate and perform efficiently.

Graduates from HCI programs work in academia, industry, IT, software, product development, research, education, healthcare, etc. One field frequently encountered on job sites is UX designer. UX is user experience, which also involves many disciplines, such as information architecture, visual design, usability, and HCI. UX strives to generate customer satisfaction and loyalty through the ease of use and pleasure derived from the product in business. Ultimately, this endeavor leads to higher sales and revenue.

The medical devices industry uses HCI as a means to discover cures for neurological diseases. A company based in Palo Alto, California, owns patented technologies to conduct brain network analysis. Programming skills and software development are crucial to landing a job in this neuroscience field. In this example, medical professionals operate the device. What about a consumer medical device like a blood pressure monitor? The product development team proposes the device and then tells the UX team to make it easy to use and look attractive.

Another example in the healthcare arena is the application of HCI in at-home medical tests. Thyroid, food sensitivity, allergy, fertility, testosterone, hepatitis C, Lyme disease, COVID-19 testing kits, and many more are available. You purchase a particular kit, submit the blood sample, and submit for the results, which takes about five business days.

Sticking to the healthcare theme, there is a tech company that creates the technology for discreet hands-free use for situational and severe motor impairment. The technology marries computer science with cognitive science to develop products that will enhance the lives of those with specific limitations. The company, Augmental Tech, developed an eye-tracking interface that controls power wheelchairs.

Combine HCI with a keen interest in space exploration, and you could use your degree as a human factors engineer at Northrop Grumman’s Space Systems Sector. Human Systems Integration (HIS) and Human Factors Engineering (HFE), and Computer Human Interface (CHI) are buzz words in space technology. The job is an amalgamation of Human Machine Interface (HMI) and HCI in design and practices.

Graduates with a degree in HCI or a related field with programming skills can work in front-end design. The profession involves understanding UX practices, aesthetics, languages like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, and the potential of front-end development. The developer should also be proficient in using graphic programs, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, and Corel. Website creation for personal and commercial markets is the most common application of front-end development.

Interaction design is another field of work, which entails considering many factors, like behavior, sound, motion, physical environment, and appearance, into a product’s design. Many Fortune 500 companies employ interaction designers, for example, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Ford, Bank of America, and many others. This work requires collaboration, creativity, communication, and analytical skills. Samsung Electronics, for example, posted a job for an Interaction Designer to partner with Visual and Motion Designers to translate research findings into design improvements.

In summary, HCI encompasses various industries due to its multiple applications, from websites to medical devices. A bachelor’s degree should be the minimum degree to check out the employment situation. Higher salary and job opportunities will be afforded with a master’s degree.

Additional Resources:

Top 50 Highest Paying Master’s Degrees

What are the benefits of Human-Computer Interaction? 

What are the typical college requirements for a Human-Computer Interaction degree?

If Human-Computer Interaction is so important, why isn’t the expected job growth better? 

What do you study in a Human-Computer Interaction program? 

What is Human-Computer Interaction, and is it a new field?

Can I expect cutting-edge material and programs if I study Human-Computer Interaction? 

What areas outside of programming will I study during an undergraduate degree in Human-Computer Interaction? 

What kind of competition can I expect when applying for a Human-Computer Interaction program? 

Which Degree Is Best for a Software Engineer?