Industrial Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs: The Business of Employees

industrial organizational psychology graduate programs

Even if a business has optimized its processes, it cannot maximize profitability if its employee base does not work efficiently. That is where an industrial organizational psychologist comes in. Sometimes referred to as IO psychologists or simply work psychologists, industrial organizational psychologists rely on both empirical data and subjective analysis of workplace conditions in order to make recommendations to a company regarding a range of employments factors, such as an employee’s suitability to the position, composition of teams, and training and advancement opportunities. Start exploring industrial organizational psychology graduate programs, and gain insight into this specialized field of psychology that combines personal skills and business acumen.

Organizing Your Education: Overview of Industrial Organizational Programs

Some schools offer undergraduate courses in industrial organizational psychology. However, industrial organizational psychology programs are almost always at the graduate level. Joining a master’s, PhD or PsyD program in industrial organizational psychology requires that you have already completed your bachelor’s degree. Programs often accept applicants from a broad range of undergraduate majors. A master’s in industrial organizational psychology with generally take two years to complete, while a doctoral degree typically requires three to five years of study and will usually culminate in a research dissertation written in conjunction with a thesis advisor. Topics they may be discussed during your degree program include:

  • Introduction to IO psychology
  • Personnel selection & appraisal
  • Organizational leadership
  • Current issues in IO psychology
  • Training in organizations
  • Organizational change & development
  • Applied statistics
  • Workplace motivations & attitudes

For graduates who choose to earn a PhD or PsyD, state licensure information is available through the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  In addition to your credentials, strong interpersonal skills are useful for working with individuals in numerous industries and from a wide variety of personal backgrounds. Analytical skills are also advantageous for assessing complex processes and systems.

Joining the Industry

Industrial organizational psychologists usually work in office environments during normal business hours. They may need to travel frequently in order to conduct site visits or present their research at conferences. Companies that are merging or opening new offices, particularly if that includes overseas offices, may hire an industrial organizational psychologist to assist them during the transition phase.

When working with a company, an industrial organizational psychologist might hold focus groups, conduct surveys, and interview key individuals within the organization. Once the research and analysis portion is completed, the industrial organizational psychologist will typically present their findings to board members and executives.

Cultivating Your Career as an IO Psychologist

Although job growth is projected to be strong overall in the coming decade for all psychologists in general, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that employment will be particularly favorable for industrial organizational psychologists. From 2010 to 2020, industrial organizational psychology positions are expected to grow by 25%, a rate much faster than average. However, it must be noted that because the industry is small, this growth will result in only about 800 new positions nationally.

In 2012, the median annual wage for an IO psychologist was $83,580, but wages can vary considerably depending on specialty. The lowest 10% earned $48,780 and the top 10% earned $168,020. Individuals who work in management and technical consulting services, as well as those in scientific research consulting, tend to have the highest wages.

In a globalized business world, firms are increasingly looking to industrial organizational psychologists to analyze their hiring and training processes in order to have a more productive workplace. While employment prospects will generally be favorable overall, individuals who work in urban areas and those who are willing to travel overseas might find particularly good opportunities. If you are good with people and have strong observational and problem-solving skills, consider exploring industrial organizational psychology graduate programs today.