How Do You Become an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), those who want to become an Industrial/Organizational psychologist will need to pursue a master’s degree. This is because there are almost zero opportunities for students with only a bachelor’s degree in this unique field of psychology.

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

The first step is to complete the popular Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree program that provides students with the fundamental principles of psychology. Introductory courses provide a broad analysis of the field of psychology, so students are introduced to a wide range of topics that offer insights into human thought and actions. These topics include memory, emotions, learning, motivation, intelligence and problem solving. Students learn about practical psychological concepts that will positively impact their personal lives and professional relationships. Studying personality development will examine the major psychological theories of personality within the frameworks of genetic and environmental influences. Mastering cognitive psychology means that students will understand the basic theories of cognition as it relates to memory, language, attention and perception.

Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

The next step is to complete a Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Students will start out by acquiring a foundational knowledge of historic and current human behaviors in the workplace. These programs use both real-world and research-based scenarios to help students understand the basics of personnel training, selection and motivation. Other topics include ethics, morale, consumer behaviors, labor relations and organizational development. In order to effectively work with decision makers, students must study leadership theories and practices. Many programs focus on popular topics like change management and transformational leadership. I/O psychologists must understand employee staffing, so they study digital and traditional recruiting and retention techniques. Understanding the complex relationships between attitudes, motivation and performance and attitudes will help graduates excel in their future careers.

Work as an I/O Psychologist

Because most companies recognize the benefits of industrial/organizational psychology, there are endless career opportunities for students with graduate degrees. Industrial/organizational psychologists consult with clients to understand their underlying issues, define performance objectives and provide direction for new development initiatives at all levels across the organization. They work with individual teams to enhance group dynamics and provide support regarding the use of group processes to effectively accomplish tasks. They deliver leadership development interventions to executives and drive change through their strong project management skills. Industrial/organizational psychologists facilitate a variety of interventions for teams, programs and business systems. In order to be successful, they must be strategic thinkers who prepare for future possibilities and organized thinkers who translate business needs into action plans.

Pursue a Ph.D.

PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology programs will generally have students immediately begin working on their dissertations. These curricula usually begin with research activities to help students determine their dissertation topics. These programs teach students how to strategically manage individual and collective behaviors in the workplace through synthesizing research and theoretical principles. The curricula includes classes on the psychology of performance, motivation and group dynamics. Other titles include the process of professional development, organizational stress, psychological coaching and workplace assessments. Common jobs with a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology include director of training, coaching, labor relations and employee development.

Related Resource: Neuropsychology

Those who become an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist will find work in research, corporation, government and health care settings.