What They Do
Human resource professionals with a background in industrial and organizational psychology often find work as consultants in a consulting firm or as independent contractors. These professionals have a deep knowledge of organizational behavior as well as adult, social and group behaviors. Consultants in this field may work with a wide variety of topics in human resources, which can include:
- hiring and recruiting
- productivity and efficiency
- workplace environment and satisfaction
- labor relations and staff/administration relations
- training and development
These consultants must have a solid background in communication, human behavior, human resources, research and data analysis. From their research and data collection, consultants make suggestions and create plans that help companies.
Consultants use their education in industrial and organizational psychology to assess an organization in areas like communication systems, group interactions, morale and motivation. Consultants make suggestions about potential changes that could be made to increase productivity and worker satisfaction. In some cases, consultants take their findings and create reports and plans that outline the weaknesses and strengths of the structure of a business. Consultants must be able to help businesses find solutions or provide them with the information needed to assess problems.
Many consultants in this field choose to find employment with a consulting firm, while others prefer to work independently. Consulting firm consultants are able to use the networks and connections that the firm has already made to advance their careers. Independent consultants must create their own foundations and networks in order to be successful. Though the latter may be more difficult at first, many find the aspects of working independently much more rewarding personally. For those who wish to advance in their careers as consultants for human resources or industrial and organizational psychology firms, a master’s degree is essential for executive positions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that positions for human resource specialists will grow by 8 percent by 2022. This pace is about average pace for all occupations. Jobs for industrial and organizational psychologists, on the other hand, will grow by 53 percent.
An industrial and organizational psychologist makes an average salary of $83,580, according to the BLS. Consultants specifically make $83,110 a year when working for management, scientific or technical consulting services.
Though there is no specific required education for entry-level consultant positions, those who have earned a graduate degree like a master’s in industrial and organizational psychology are given preference concerning job competition. Advanced consultant positions require a master’s degree. Candidates who have some academic background in human resources, like a concentration in the subject, are more competitive in the job market.
Industrial and organizational psychology degree programs cover subjects including:
- organizational theory
- organizational change
- performance assessment
- leadership and management
- training and development
- statistical methods
- research methodology
A consultant would apply these theories and skills to a specific organization’s situation and help the company improve its processes and employee relations. Consultants use the theory and research skills acquired in a master’s level program to solve problems with organizational processes, leadership, management and communication.