Understanding Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Industrial-Organizational psychology is a relatively new field, with a smaller number of practitioners than is generally found in more established fields of psychology. I-O psychologists are typically hired by various businesses and business owners to find ways of improving the overall productivity and happiness of employees and to develop methods to help select individuals for employment or advancement. Other industrial-organizational psychologists maintain private consulting businesses and engage in such things as workshops or coaching for executives.
I-O psychologists often study the behavior of people in different workplace settings to better understand how individuals function within the context of a given situation. For example, an I-O psychologist might research how women act differently than men in a management role or how overweight employees are treated by their coworkers. Following these examinations, I-O psychologists would then advise managers on how to implement policies to improve workplace cohesion. Other common duties of I-O psychologists include designing employee selection, placement, and training programs, designing tests that evaluate job qualifications for employees, evaluating employee performance, and collecting research data for various projects.
A career in I-O psychology requires, at a minimum, a master's degree in psychology. However, a doctorate degree is likely to increase job effectiveness and employment opportunities. Unless I-O psychologists plan to practice psychotherapy or counseling, they usually do not need a state license, as many other psychological specialties require.
In addition to having a deep understanding of the human psyche, I-O psychologists need to be knowledgeable with regard to such areas as business, business administration, and human resources in order to assist with company policies and enhance work performance in employees. As with any research oriented occupation, I-O psychologists should understand scientific methodology, including data collection and statistical analyses. A strong propensity for creativity and problem solving skills is also beneficial. Much of an I-O psychologist's time conducting research is often spent interviewing personnel, so I-O psychologists need to be comfortable speaking with many different people, listening carefully to what they have to say, maintaining confidentiality, and having good social skills.
Average Pay and Job Availability
In 2011, I-O psychologists made more money than virtually any other occupation in the field of psychology. I-O psychologists made an average of $59.69 each hour and $124,160 each year. Similarly, I-O psychology is expected to have more job growth than any other psychological field, with a 35 percent increase in available occupations from 2010 to 2020. However, since there are currently so few positions in I-O psychology, this rapid increase is only equal to about 800 new jobs.
19-3032 Industrial-Organizational Psychologists (2012) Bureau of Labor Statistics
Psychologists (2012) Bureau of Labor Statistics