What is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Psychologists of all specialties study human behavior as it relates to mental and emotional well-being. Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists apply the discipline to the workplace to help both employees and employers. It may sound like a narrow field, but I-O psychology is actually quite broad.

How do they help employees?

What is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

I-O psychologists may assist employees in improving their quality of life. It can be difficult to find a work-life balance, and I-O psychologists can help employees cope with any feelings of misgiving they are having at their job. I-O psychologists can help workers who want to switch careers or companies by offering unbiased advice.

As the business world becomes increasingly digitalized, many I-O psychologists have chosen to specialize in human-computer interaction. They may assist workers who must undergo new training procedures or address other human factors, such as workplace safety and ergonomics.

How do they help employers?

I-O psychologists seek to improve conditions for employees, as well as employers. They may help in developing ways to increase worker productivity by fine tuning management styles and building office morale. I-O psychologists are often instrumental in planning and instituting new company policy, employee screening and training as well as organizational development. Companies may also call in I-O psychologists when going through a period of change, such as a merger or restructuring.

What else do they do?

Other I-O psychologists may work in research or academia. Research psychologists conduct experiments, administer surveys and use observational studies to find new ways of helping workers and employers, or refine existing models. I-O psychologists in academia may work as professors, teacher assistants or adjunct faculty.

How much do they make?

salary graph for I/O Psychologist

Earning potential for I-O psychologists depends on the amount of education the candidate has and the environment in which they wish to work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all I-O psychologists, as of May 2010, was $87,330. A more thorough breakdown of salaries for I-O psychologists is as follows:

  • Starting salary with master’s degree: $38,750
  • Starting salary with Ph.D. or Psy. D: $55,000
  • University professor salary: $70,000
  • Private sector salary: $100,000

The highest earners in the psychology field earn around $111,810 each year.

Is this career right for me?

To be successful as an I-O psychologist, you must be willing to commit the time necessary to pursue an advanced degree in the field. In addition to education requirements, I-O psychologists benefit from the following personality traits:

  • Analytical skills: Psychologists must be able to draw logical conclusions from the information at their disposal.
  • Communication skills: Psychologists spend much of their time listening to and talking with clients.
  • Observational skills: Psychologists study behavior. They must be able to observe and understand facial expressions, body language and interactions with others.
  • Patience: Not every patient is easily helped. Psychologists must be able to keep personal frustrations to a minimum.
  • People skills: Psychologists need strong people skills to work with patients as well as other treatment providers and patient families.
  • Problem-solving skills: Psychologists need to be able to find solutions to the problems their clients face.
  • Trustworthiness: Psychologists must be able to foster a trusting relationship with clients to help them.

How can I become one?

I-O psychologists must have at least a master’s degree to begin practicing. Ideally, psychologists in this field hold a Ph.D. or Psy.D. Psychologists in a doctoral program are required to complete a one-year internship prior to graduation.
Entry into graduate school is competitive. Most graduate programs do not require a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but familiarity with the field is beneficial. Typically, graduates with only a bachelor’s degree in psychology work in fields outside their major, such as business, advertising or education.

After meeting educational requirements, I-O psychologists need to obtain a license to practice. Licensing laws vary by state and position, but most requirements include an advanced degree, one or two years of professional experience and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

Brescia offers an bachelor degree in psychology online that can help put you on the right path toward a great career in psychology. Get the ball rolling on your career today!

Other psychology careers to consider are: Child PsychologyClinical Psychology,  Forensic Psychology, or Sports Psychology.

Established in 1950, Brescia University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution founded in the Ursuline tradition of personal and social transformation through education. With the advent of BUonline, Brescia brings accredited undergraduate and graduate programs to students across the nation. Brescia’s commitment to a student-centered environment rewards students who seek success through meaningful careers and service to others.