How to Become an Occupational Psychologist

Those who wish to become an occupational psychologist must first complete the necessary educational requirements from an accredited psychology degree program. In this field of psychology, an individual will typically work within an organization’s human resources or training department, or they may provide various types of consulting services. Occupational psychology is also referred to as industrial-organizational, or I-O, psychology, and it has a focus on the behavior of people in the workplace.

What degree is required to become an occupational psychologist?

In order to become an industrial-occupational psychologist, one will often need to earn a degree in psychology at the Ph.D. level. Many who earn a doctoral degree may do so via the accredited institutions that offer programs in industrial-organizational psychology. Practicing psychologists also need a license or certification.

According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, those who wish to gain licensure for the practice of psychology must meet several requirements set by all states. These include obtaining a Ph.D. or Psy.D. from an accredited university, completing supervised work for a period of time by a licensed psychologist, obtaining a qualifying score on the EPPP, and passing an oral exam that is conducted by a state board.

How long does it take to become an occupational psychologist?

Those who wish to become an occupational psychologist should plan on allocating several years for their requirements to be complete. With regard to education, a doctoral degree in psychology can typically take between four and seven years, although the exact time frame will depend upon whether a student opts to attend their educational program on a full-time or a part-time basis. There may also be a time factor involved with the completion of the individual’s dissertation. Many aspiring occupational psychologists are also charged with fulfilling necessary clinical and/or internship requirements. In addition to taking one’s course work on campus at a college or university, today there are many online psychology programs that may help in fulfilling a student’s degree requirements. These popular distance learning programs could help a student in obtaining their degree in psychology faster, as the time allotted for course work and study may be more flexible. Those with work and/or family obligations may find these online psychology programs especially convenient.

Also factoring into the time it takes to become an organizational psychologist is the period for licensure because after completing the supervised work requirements, an individual pursuing a career as an industrial-organizational psychologist must obtain a license to practice. This can be done by passing the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP), a 175-question exam. In addition, most states will require the passing of a separate oral exam prior to qualifying an individual for licensure. It is oftentimes necessary to obtain letters from other professionals in the field that speak to the individual’s ability to practice.

What is an occupational psychologist’s salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual median wage for psychologists overall in May 2010 was $68,640. This, however, is just an average, and pay can vary a great deal depending on one’s career focus and demographic area. For example, the median annual wages for industrial-organizational psychologists in this same time frame was $87,330. But keep in mind that these figures are not guarantees, as an industrial-organizational psychologist’s pay will depend upon several criteria, including experience and the demographic area of practice.