What Does a Career in Industrial-Organizational Psychology Entail?
Industrial and organizational psychology (often referred to as I-O psychology) is a field within psychology that focuses on interpersonal relationships in the workplace, whether that's in an office or industrial setting. It concerns itself with the dynamics created by the chosen industrial-organizational structure, and how this affects each employee.
An organizational psychologist will be equipped to deal with a variety of tasks during their work week and may hold various positions, from human resources management within human resources departments to separate training and development specialists from outside the company who can introduce programs in industrial settings that utilize knowledge of human behavior to boost mental health. They develop ways to help solve issues in the workplace so that the quality of life/work will be improved for real-world employees. They may focus their efforts on the sales and marketing department, management, administration, and any other area in between.
If they are striving to improve the morale of employees, they will screen them and learn their work styles. They may complete assessments and use various other social psychology research methods to probe employee or staff performance. Industrial-organizational psychologists then use the results to make recommendations to management on individuals or groups. These positions can be part-time or full-time depending on what the company or work community needs and can afford.
Components of a Successful Career in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
The career of a successful industrial-organizational psychologist blends several components into one job role. These include:
- Teaching - within business schools, psychology departments, and training programs
- Scholarship - learning new material about the psychology of the workplace, research methods, and human behavior
- Mentoring and Advising - working closely with psychology graduate or undergraduate students as they prepare for psychology careers
- Professional Service - the work that an industrial-organizational psychologist does for the employer or other industrial-organizational psychology professionals
- Industry Collaboration and Consulting - working in partnership with public or private organizations, in a scientist-practitioner role
- Maintaining Healthy Work/Life Balance - guarding against emotional over-investment in the workplace
How to Earn a Degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Typical Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree Requirements
In a bachelor’s degree, you'll have to declare a major after you complete all general education courses. Then you'll move on to core courses. Core courses for industrial-organizational psychology degree programs include basic psychology, cognitive psychology, psychological statistics, social psychology, research methods, and other courses that help to create a foundation for the student. This is the same for both on-campus psychology programs and organizational psychology online programs.
Next, the student has to take industrial-organizational psychology courses, which will let them finish an industrial-organizational psychology minor.
Typical Industrial-Organizational Psychology Certifications Needed
Because you will be working with the environment of a professional organization, you will need to be certified or licensed to work in your profession. Undergraduate students majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, can earn a certificate.
By using this route, you will take several classes that will equip you with the professional knowledge and background you’ll need. Your classes will cover training needs, assessment, and design; performance measurement and talent management; recruitment, assessment, and personnel selection; employee satisfaction, work-life balance, and morale; organizational development and change management; leadership and motivation.
Academic Standards for Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degrees
This educational program is designed to help you and your fellow students learn how to develop and/or promote employee productivity and retention within an organization.
You will need to be able to demonstrate that you understand the methodology and statistical techniques in behavioral science research and apply the methods you have learned about issues such as training, personnel issues, diversity, and performance feedback.
At the master’s and doctorate level, you’ll need to meet several objectives.At eh master’s level, you’ll need to know about the aims, practices and strategies of organizations, individual workers, and work groups so they can achieve success; be able to apply theory and methods to help organizations that need to help solve problems related to their employees; be able to communicate with expected technical proficiency, using terms everyday people will understand; employ standards of academic business and research professionalism.
At the doctorate level, you should be able to apply theory and methods as you help organizations to find solutions to solve employee-related issues; know which methods will be suited to testing the qualities of specific HR-related practices and interventions; be able to communicate with technical proficiency, helping laypeople to understand what you are talking about; work within specific standards of academic, research, and business professionalism; and be able to design and execute research studies without assistance.
Exam and Experience Needed for Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degrees
Your experience working with a diverse range of people should go beyond people and communication skills. While these are vital in your field, you also need to know how to address issues affecting employee satisfaction and productivity. You also need compassion, interviewing skills and leadership ability. If you have been working as an industrial-organizational psychologist after earning your bachelor’s degree in psychology, then you already have prior experience before re-entering school for your organizational psychology master’s degree.
Important Questions to Ask
How Long Does It Take to Earn an Industrial-Organizational Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Online?
In general, you should expect to complete approximately 120 credit hours—other schools may require an even higher number.
At one university, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial-Organizational Psychology will require that you complete 120 credit hours. You will take general education classes, your core requirements (to include a three-credit capstone), electives, and several courses in the industrial-organizational psychology concentration.
While completion of the entire program varies from student to student, you should expect that, if you take a minimum of 12 credit hours and take summer classes, you should be able to complete your degree in about four years.
If your university requires you to take a larger number of credits, try to take 15 credit hours per semester, plus at least one class in the summer session(s). If you are taking online classes, you will be able to structure your educational program in a way that suits your circumstances.
How Much does an Industrial-Organizational Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Cost?
How much a bachelor’s degree costs depends on the school. A bachelor’s degree may range from approximately $40,000 over four years for in-state residents at a public university to $140,000 or more for students attending private colleges. Online tuition also varies, but students do not have to pay for housing, meals or transportation, and costs are generally lower because online classes cost less for a college or university to operate. Online courses often charge in-state rates to all students, while brick and mortar colleges charge higher rates to students from out-of-state. To determine the actual costs of your education, you should perform a simple budget analysis and investigate all the costs involved with earning a degree at a school you wish to attend.
Does the School Have the Major You’re Considering?
Once you settle on a major in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, you need to make sure that the schools you’re interested in carry such a major. Most, though not all, schools include psychology as a major. Some of those schools will have a concentration in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
Visit the websites of each school you’re interested in. Their ‘admissions’ or ‘courses offered’ listings should tell you if the major you’re looking for is available. If you have trouble navigating their online listings, feel free to call the school; either an admissions officer or someone at the psychology department should be able to tell you if the major is available.
How Many Students Graduate “On Time,” in Four Years?
Today’s students don’t tend to graduate in the four-year time frame anymore. Currently, fewer than 50% of freshmen will graduate within the four-year mark.
This gets expensive, because students are required to continue paying for the classes they are taking. If you are making plans to enter a university, you should develop a plan that allows you to graduate within four years. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
- Take 15 credit hours, not just 12
- Take summer session classes (which may also cost less than during the regular semester)
- If you have to work, take the lowest number of working hours per pay period that you can. Your time should be spent getting good grades and finishing classes.
What Kind of Accreditation Does the Program Hold? How is it Regarded in the Field?
Industrial-Organizational Psychology programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). This professional organization is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Because of the APA, Commission on Accreditation’s (APA-CoA) focus on accreditation policies, guidelines, and procedures, this helps to ensure a more consistent national value for psychology degrees accredited by this group.
Software, Technology and Skills Needed
Because Industrial-Organizational Psychology is such a people-oriented program, you need to have the skills to interact with certain groups and tasks. You need good communication skills to allow you to be understood by those you work with and share your findings in an approachable way. You’ll need good assessment skills, both to study data and to help you share your findings. Most importantly, you need to be able to interact with people at all levels of a company, from the maintenance worker to the CEO.
If your college program is individual and organization-centered, you’re going to spend much of your time learning about what makes people think and operate in the way they do. You’ll also learn about assessing their ability to adapt to new workplace policies and procedures; the effects of a negative workplace environment; and observing the interpersonal back-and-forth that happens between co-workers, employees, and management.
Once you begin an Industrial-Organizational Psychology degree program, you’ll begin to hone your skills in:
- Data Analysis
- Human Resource Management
- Organizational Development
- Statistical Decision making
In the Industrial-Organizational psychology major, you will begin learning about the main uses of psychology and how it related to business and organizational settings. At this level, you will learn about managing and motivating talent, helping to develop latent communication skills, and assessing organizations to improve their effectiveness.
In a bachelor’s degree in psychology program, you will learn the basics of psychology used to assist organizations and businesses to make organizational and policy changes. Your interventions will help management and employees to find ways to work together. You’ll teach managers how to carry out their tasks in ways that allow employees to feel valued.
You’ll help to train HR employees, mentor and advise managers as they learn to use new ways of carrying out their duties, and teach everyone in an organization to find and use a healthy work-life balance.
- Employment and Staffing
- Organizational Behavior
- Attitudes and Motivation in the Workplace
- Psychology of Leadership
At the master’s level, you will be learning about conflict resolution, interpersonal management skills and communication. At this stage of your professional life, you will develop a more-advanced knowledge of human motivations and behavior and how to help improve the efficiency of an organization and its operations. Your classes and instruction are carefully aligned with the standards and recommendations made by the American Psychological Association (APA).
- Contemporary and Ethical Issues in Psychology
- Industrial/Organizational Psychology
- Organizational Behavior and Development
- Graduate Statistics
If you’re continuing your education at the doctoral degree level, you’ll need to possess a deep love of knowledge and of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. You will be mentored by faculty and senior students. You’ll receive opportunities in field experiences and research. In addition, you will be encouraged to get involved in both local and national professional societies which may be appropriate to your career goals.
You may have a master’s degree that comes from a different department, or even from a related field. If so, you will be required to apply to the M.A. program.
In this doctoral program, you will be required to complete an additional 54 credit hours. And, if you are pursuing both an M.A. and a Ph.D. at this university, you will have to complete 90 credit hours. Some of the semester hours are for course credit for two practicums or internship experiences, in addition to research and a dissertation.
- Proseminar: Social Psychology
- Proseminar: Cognitive Psychology
- The Profession of Psychology
- Seminar in Program Evaluation
Earning Potential for Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree Fields and Occupations
At the bachelor’s level, you may earn $42,700 entry level pay. After 20 years of experience, this can jump to $87,000. At the master’s level, you may start out with a starting salary of $58,000; your late-career pay may rise to $122,500. At the doctoral level, your earnings take a huge leap. Your weekly salary could be roughly $1,743.
I-O Psychology Salaries by Occupation
Different I-O psychology occupations mean that your median annual salary will be different from job to job. For instance, an entry-level I-O psychologist earns around $37,000. In contrast, an organizational development consultant will be earning $57,000.
At the mid-level point, the professionals in these occupations are bunched much more closely together. Still, the research consultant, organizational developmental consultant, talent developer, and even the I-O psychology professor are earning from $72,000-$76,000.
In their late careers, the talent development professional and the I-O psychology professor are earning, respectively, $157,000 and $148,000. In contrast, every other listed occupation is earning from $84,000-$98,000.
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologist:
This professional assists in research design, assessment exercises, survey work, and interviews for the organizations that hire them. They may work with small teams, developing or improving selection tools, human resources issues, or testing policies and programs. They may coordinate focus groups, presentations, interpret research results, and administer surveys.
- Human Resources (HR) Manager:
While this professional may not seem to fit in the I-O Psychology mode, their work puts them much closer to this profession than it does to business functions, such as accounting or management. They make sure that all H.R. activities are in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and they oversee programs related to employee benefits and initiatives.
- Personnel Analyst:
These professionals are responsible for deciding how to handle individual employees so that the company receives maximum performance from each person. The analyst employs various tools, looking for the best fit for each employee’s personality. They may have degrees in public administration, human resource management, I/O Psychology, or another closely related field.
- Research Consultant:
This professional collects and analyzes data in different formats for government agencies and private companies. Once they have put their data into a readable format, they present it to their managers or clients. The client or supervisor may have requested the data for use in marketing or advertising.
- Instructional Designer:
This professional creates and develops instructional material for a company, school, or other organization. Their focus is on the efficiency of programs being developed and lesson plans that will be used in providing instruction. They are also responsible for analyzing instructional methodology. The designer “teaches the teacher.”
- Organizational Development Consultant:
This professional may work for only one firm, but it’s more common for them to work with several businesses. They will establish their duties depending on the client’s needs. They may create a plan for a physical move to another site; they may assess problems within an organization or an individual department and give their assistance in solving the issues.
- Talent Acquisition Manager:
This professional assists their organization with finding the top talent in their industry. They’ll also research the best ways to keep or attract top talent and present/implement their plans within the company.
- I-O Psychology Professor:
This instructor teaches I-O psychology topics to their students. No matter the level of the class, the instructor’s goal is to teach research methods and intervention methods to address negative workplace issues. The instructor focuses their teaching on the workplace, management styles, and employee working styles.
Annual Salary by Occupation
|Occupation||Entry-Level Salary Range||Mid-Career Salary Range||Late-Career Salary Range|
|I-O Psychology Professor||$60,100||$70,900||$99,100|
|Organizational Development Consultant||$67,600||$81,900||$100,600|
|Talent Acquisition Manager||$63,600||$77,100||$91,500|
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - Graduate Student Scholarships, Mary L. Tenopyr Scholarship and Lee Hakel Graduate Student Scholarship
Amount: $3,000-$3,500 (4 Awards)
This Graduate Student Scholarship seeks and recognizes achievement in a graduate student’s career. It was developed to assist the doctoral I-O psychology student with handling the costs of carrying out dissertation work. The winning student receives a single payment and the funds may be used to defray graduate school expenses without any additional restrictions. The highest ranked student receives $3,500; the next student receives the Mary L. Tenopyr Scholarship of $3,000; finally, two $3,000 scholarships are awarded.
George C. Thornton, III Graduate Scholarship
Several alumni and friends of the I-O Psychology program have come together to donate funds, leading to the creation of this scholarship, which is awarded through SIOP Foundation. This award recognizes a doctoral student in the I-O Psychology department who personifies the scientist/practitioner model in their training, research, and practicums.
The Dr. Paul E. Panek Endowed Scholarship in Psychology
Amount: Covers research related expenses (Amount varies)
Established by Christine Franklin Panek in memory of her husband, Dr. Paul E. Panek, this scholarship helps to support a graduate student who is active in research so that the field of psychology is advanced. This scholarship also helps to keep high-caliber graduate students within the field of psychology. This award may be used for the student’s research-related expenses.
Professional I-O Psychology Organizations
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
SIOP makes known resources for professors, professionals and students. Individual from these groups are invited to join SIOP. This organization also releases information about government policies related to I-O psychology and current events.
Human Factors are Ergonomics Society
HFES studies was to provide the best ergonomic working experience for employees. Healthy employees are happy and productive. Topics at conferences include biomechanics of the human body, safety concerns, reducing physical strains, and the ways that technological advances can affect employee satisfaction.
Emotional Intelligence Consortium
EIC, as a group for I-O psychologists, is highly selective about who it accepts. I-O psychologists must specialize in the study of emotional intelligence within the workplace. EIC has created several instruments and assessments, along with guidelines for use with an organization’s employees.
Choosing an Accredited College
Accreditation is vital. It means the difference between getting financial aid or not, receiving a job offer or not, and getting a higher salary offer or not. Accreditation helps to reassure the college, federal financial aid sources, and future employers that the education is of the highest quality. It shows that the university meets established standards of quality, maintains eligibility for financial aid, and shows a commitment to best practices in education.
Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid
If you have access to a fully online program, then all classes will be delivered online. You won’t need to attend any classes on-campus. However, some programs may not be available in this format. This is especially true for courses which are for specializations, which means some of your classes may only be available in a physical classroom, or you may be required to attend a seminar or two throughout the year.
Make sure you check with any school you are considering that they either have 100% online options, or what their on-campus requirements will be. You don’t want to get halfway through and realize you’re supposed to attend one class on campus at a school 100 miles away.
Does the College have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help and Assistance?
Career and Placement Services can assist you with much of the work involved in applying for a job, getting an interview, writing a resume and cover letter, and completing a job interview. If you aren’t sure about how to structure your resume and cover letter(s), the career office can help you with writing tips and services. Depending on the college you can even have access to interview preparation help and other helpful assistance.
Why You Need to Consider How the University’s Rankings/Accreditation Can Affect Your Salary
The work you will be doing is vital to businesses and employees all around the country. Accreditation ensures that your education either meets or exceeds minimal quality standards. You’ll be able to choose a college based on accreditation or its lack.
Your college choice and its ranking will also affect your future salary. Employers rely on the rankings of schools and their educational programs to figure out how high your salary offer will be.
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