What is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist?

If you’re looking for an in-demand career that blends psychology with business, consider becoming an industrial/organizational psychologist. I/O psychology is a relatively new field concerned with studying human behavior in relation to organizational and workplace issues. I/O psychologists apply empirical-based research findings to help companies improve employee productivity, satisfaction, and morale. As the workplace becomes more diverse and HR laws tighten, organizations are creating a larger demand for I/O psychologists. Named among America’s “Hot Jobs,” employment of industrial/organizational psychologists is expected to grow much faster-than-average by 26 percent, according to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Since I/O psychology is a small niche, this will only account to a couple hundred jobs though. Anyone interested in studying industrial/organizational psychology can review the following brief job profile to know what to expect.

What Industrial/Organizational Psychologists Do

Industrial/organizational psychologists are primarily focused on using quantitative research to determine the best corporate practices for maximizing human capital. I/O psychologists work closely with human resource professionals to improve the workplace environment. Daily duties could include observing employee behavior, identifying organizational issues, developing fair hiring processes, selecting compensation levels, fostering workplace safety, counseling discontented workers, and designing training workshops. Many I/O psychologists act as independent consultants with a company’s executive team to solve particular problems. Others hold academic positions to teach budding psychologists and conduct cutting-edge research. I/O psychologists can play many pivotal roles in using psychological principles to implement policy changes that help achieve company goals.

Where Industrial/Organizational Psychologists Work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States employs 990 I/O psychologists in diverse work capacities. The highest percentage are employed in management consulting services. Others find jobs in research institutes, government agencies, private corporations, human resources departments, engineering firms, and manufacturing companies. Industrial/organizational psychologists can work anywhere from blue-collar factories to white-collar securities brokerages. I/O psychology jobs are mostly found in densely populated states like New York, Massachusetts, California, and Pennsylvania. In academia, I/O psychologists can attain tenured faculty positions at colleges, universities, and professional schools. Most positions are full-time, but consultants have the greatest scheduling flexibility.

How to Become an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist

I/O psychologists typically begin their career by acquiring a four-year bachelor’s of psychology degree from a regionally accredited institution. Education can’t halt there because industrial/organizational psychologists must hold at least a master’s degree. More graduate schools are devoted Master of Science tracks to I/O psychology. Going beyond entry-level positions and gaining clout for consultant jobs may require a doctorate. A Ph.D. in I/O Psychology will take at least four years of post-baccalaureate studies, including a dissertation. Attending a program that aligns with the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology guidelines is suggested. Several states will require industrial/organizational psychologists to be licensed. Board certification is also available via the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP).

Related Resource: What is Neuropsychology?

Overall, industrial/organization psychology is a fascinating sub-specialty aiming to keep workplaces running efficiently and safely with a good employee climate. Since the famous Hawthorne studies in the 1920s, I/O psychology has grown to study how organizations can eliminate issues like discrimination, sexual harassment, absenteeism, bullying, and stress. I/O psychologists are rewarded with a high average yearly salary of $92,320, which is equivalent to $44.38 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Becoming an industrial/organizational psychologist will place you on the forefront of addressing the roots to problems that interfere with employee performance.