How to Become an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial-organizational psychology applies principles of psychology to organizational settings, particularly the workplace. Professionals in this field analyze and research workplace issues connected to employee satisfaction, motivation, training, and retention, often with the goal of optimizing employee productivity. I-O professionals may identify organizational issues that impede workflow, pose a safety risk, or keep employees from producing or leading at their best, and collaborate with a management team in leading organizational change to solve such problems. Subfields of industrial-organizational psychology include testing/assessment, leadership development, staffing, management, teams, compensation, workplace safety, diversity, and work-life balance, according to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

What degree is required to become an industrial-organizational psychologist?

Industrial-organizational psychologists need a master’s degree in psychology to find employment in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To qualify for a master’s program, students must have a bachelor’s degree that includes the necessary prerequisite course work in psychology. Many students have found that pursuing a masters industrial-organizational psychology online degree helps them to better balance graduate study with their jobs and families.

After gaining the necessary education and experience in the field, industrial-organizational psychologists may choose to become board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). To earn the specialty certification in organizational and business consulting, psychologists must possess a doctorate from an approved program, be licensed for independent practice, and obtain significant experience in the profession, according to the ABPP. While board certification is not required to work as an industrial-organizational psychologist, it does demonstrate to potential employers and clients that you have expertise in your specialty and it may give you a leg up on the competition.

How long does it take to become an industrial-organizational psychologist?

To become an industrial-organizational psychologist, students must be willing to commit about two years to a master’s program, although program length will vary from school to school. An online degree for industrial-organizational psychology can be completed in slightly less than two years if the university provides accelerated terms. Prospective students should factor in the amount of time it may take to become licensed, as all psychologists who practice independently must hold a license, according to the BLS. Licensure requirements differ from state to state, but typically require you to complete the necessary college course work, an internship, and a year or two of professional experience.

What is an industrial-organizational psychologist’s salary?

The median yearly salary of an industrial-organizational psychologist was $87,330 in May 2010, according to the BLS. This was significantly higher than the average earnings of clinical, counseling, or school psychologists, which sat at $66,810 that same year. Job growth for industrial-organizational psychologists is also expected to outpace that of other types of psychologists, with the BLS projecting 35% employment growth between 2010 and 2020. Keep in mind that salaries are not guaranteed and can vary greatly depending on your experience, location, and size and type of employer.