Career Profile: Human Resource Psychologist

What They Do

The link between human resources and the work of industrial and organizational psychologists is strong. Many businesses and organizations take advantage of the study of workplace behavior and productivity in order to better their business model, employee retention and success. Improvement of the work environment and culture can help bring positive bottom line results.

Using skills and knowledge relating to psychology, human resource managers and executives can create and implement hiring and recruiting practices, employee policies and disciplinary procedures that foster a positive and healthy work environment for the staff. This, of course, leads to better staff retention, a more positive workplace environment and an overall increase in productivity.

Psychologists who work in human resource departments are a part of the management team that creates, directs and implements organizational management theories and plans. HR deals directly with staff-related issues like hiring, recruiting, disciplinary procedures and terminations.

Career Growth

Many industrial and organizational psychologists choose to work as consultants either as individuals or for a consulting firm. Others choose to work in human resource departments as managers or executives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs in I/O psychology will grow 53 percent by 2022, which is much higher than the average for all occupations. The job outlook for human resource management, on the other hand, is 13 percent over the next few years, which is also a faster rate than all occupations.

Salary Potential

Industrial and organizational psychologists who work as consultants make an average salary of $92,725 a year. The top industries for these consultants are in management, scientific and technical consulting services. Other I/O psychologists choose to work for state and local governments or scientific research and development services.

Human resource managers, many of whom have earned master’s degrees in industrial and organizational psychology with a concentration in human resource management, make an average annual salary of $112,550 when working as managers of companies. Human resource managers who work in professional, scientific and technical services make almost as much, $112,210. Human resource managers in health care and social assistance make around $85,870. This brings the average salary of human resource managers up to $99,720 a year.

Education Required

Individuals who are considering a career in industrial and organizational psychology and wish to work in human resources should consider earning a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology with a concentration in human resource management. The core courses in industrial and organizational psychology focus on subjects like organizational theory and behavior, developing high performance teamwork and strengthening leadership. The concentration courses emphasize the fundamentals of human resources.

Though majors in human resources and industrial and organizational psychology can overlap in theme and subject, I/O psychology graduates can be more equipped to deal with the big picture concerns of a company’s relationship with its employees and staff. I/O psychology professionals may have more experience, skills and knowledge concerning theory and research, which can be helpful when solving complex problems.

These professionals must keep up to date on trends and developments in the worlds of industrial and organizational psychology and human resources. Membership in professional organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology can prove helpful in staying abreast of new information and best practices.