Career Profile: Industrial and Organizational Psychologist

What They Do

The field of industrial and organizational psychology focuses on human behavior in the workplace. Psychological and behavioral theories are applied to organizations in order to contribute to an organization’s success. The main goal of a business or organization is to foster an environment where goals are met and productivity is high. An I/O psychologist may focus on any number of topics when assessing an organization. Common topics include:

  • Job analysis
  • Personnel recruitment
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Remuneration and compensation
  • Motivation
  • Professional appraisal and management
  • Psychometrics
  • Organizational culture

Industrial and organizational psychology is split into two separate subject areas: industrial psychology and organizational psychology.

Industrial psychology emphasizes the individual worker and his or her relationship to the work environment. Areas such as job analysis, employee safety, training and recruitment are addressed. Industrial psychology directly influences the human resource department of an organization and helps those employees to better communicate with and assess staff.

Alternately, organizational psychology looks at the work environment as a whole and studies the way the organization is structured. Productivity and performance are the main goals of this side of industrial and organizational psychology. The workplace culture of an organization is studied and how it can affect the way employees and staff work together and individually. Organizational psychology is concerned with group behavior, which can be broken down into sub-areas like team effectiveness and composition, goals and satisfaction.

Ideally, when both industrial and organizational psychology are used, an organization can change, evolve and develop to meet goals and increase satisfaction. These psychologists use organizational development to bring about positive change, which may involve team building, job training and group discussion.

Career Growth

Generally, industrial and organizational psychologists work as consultants for management, scientific and technical companies and organizations. Depending on the academic and professional experience, an industrial and organizational psychology consultant can work in factories or office buildings, for universities or for government agencies. Consultants can work for one specific department of a corporation or, conversely, work with the human resource department and handle assessments from the administration to the mailroom. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this field of psychology will grow at a rate of 53 percent by 2022, the fastest growing occupation.

Salary Potential

Industrial and organizational psychologists who work as consultants for management, scientific or technical consulting firms make a median annual salary of $83,110, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who work for scientific research and development services make $110,550 a year, and those who work with or for company management departments make around $100,750. The median salary for psychologists who decide to work in a school environment ranges from $83,160 for elementary and secondary schools to $80,040 for colleges, universities or vocational schools.

Education Required

In order to land a job in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, an individual needs at least a master’s degree. However, an organizational and industrial psychology education cannot end at the graduate level. To stay relevant, I/O psychologists must keep up with the latest trends and studies in their academic and professional areas.

The field of organizational psychology and industrial psychology requires professionals to complete several years of schooling. An industrial and organizational psychology master’s degree program covers the skills and knowledge needed to help organizations foster a healthy and productive work environment.

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