A Hot New Career Path: Industrial-Organizational Psychology

industrial-organizational psychology


Industrial and organizational psychology is the science of workplace behavior. It involves applying psychological principals to the workplace to increase employee satisfaction and to organize businesses for optimal productivity. If your job requires you to manage employees, or you want a job that does, studying industrial-organizational psychology can help. From business to sales to health care, understanding what motivates both your employees and your clients will make you a valuable asset to any organization.

[Earn a certificate in industrial-organizational psychology from the convenience of your home.]

Here are the basic facts you need to know about industrial-organizational psychology.

What is it?

Industrial-organizational psychology revolves around studying workplace behavior and organization. As the name indicates, it is the merging of two, inter-related psychological fields. On the industrial side, I-O psychologists apply their expertise to employee-related issues such as hiring, training, safety, and job performance. On the organizational side, the workplace as a whole is the key focus. Working from this end of the equation, I-O psychologists study and implement policies to raise productivity and optimize the organization of entire companies.

Who uses industrial-organizational psychology?

In addition to certified I-O psychologists, anyone who manages people or deals with the public can benefit from studying industrial-organizational psychology. For example, nursing managers and health care administrators can apply I-O principles in the workplace to raise the quality of patient care. In marketing and sales, knowledge of I-O psychology can help you understand what motivates your customers. In human resources,  I-O psychology can apply to developing better hiring, training, assessment, and work-life policies. Many companies also look to I-O expertise for improving their overall organizational effectiveness. Industries using industrial-organizational psychology include business, government, health care, nonprofits, and education.

What are the educational requirements?

If you want a career as an I-O pyschologist, you will need a master’s degree at a minimum. Although an undergraduate degree in psychology is not necessary, master’s degree programs do require coursework in introductory psychology, experimental psychology, and statistics. If you have already taken those courses in college, you have a head start. Doctoral degree programs in I-O psychology typically require a master’s degree in psychology as a prerequisite.

If you want to add I-O psychology training to your résumé to enhance degrees you already hold in other fields, a graduate certificate in industrial-organizational psychology is another route you can take. Graduate certificates cost less than graduate degrees and can be completed in less time as well. An additional benefit to earning a graduate certificate is that it can be applied toward an advanced degree later, should you ever decide to pursue a master’s or a doctoral degree in support of your career. 

Where are the jobs?

With a forecasted growth rate of 53 percent, industrial-organizational psychologists top the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s list of fastest growing jobs through 2020—that’s four times the growth rate of any other psychology field! That being the case, the competition for jobs is high, so those with the best educational credentials will rise to the top. Since a rising tide lifts all boats, professionals with degrees in other fields who hold graduate certificates in industrial-organizational psychology can also benefit from the increasing demand. Consultants and business coaches with I-O degrees and certificates will be able to capitalize on the trend as well.

What does it pay?

The median salary for industrial-organizational psychologists is $83,580, but this varies greatly with education and industry. The highest-paying jobs are typically found in major metropolitan areas and, according to the Washington Post, adding a graduate certificate in industrial-organizational psychology to your résumé can boost your salary by as much as 25 percent.


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