Individuals interested in a job where they can help employees work in healthy, stable environments may find becoming an industrial psychologist to be the perfect solution. Industrial psychologists, often referred to as industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists, study and analyze employee behavior and, using their findings, make recommendations on how to improve the workplace. Here is an overview of what I-O psychologists do and what it takes to become one.

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What They Do

The job duties of an industrial psychologist vary depending on where they work. While some choose to teach or do research, others work in management consulting or human resources departments. Those who work in an organization often collaborate with human resources departments. Their main goals are to boost company performance.

They do this by studying employee moods and behaviors to best determine their needs. Industrial psychologists create training programs and management techniques while also improving hiring practices. Industrial psychologists generally work in the following areas.

• Talent development and training
• Hiring and recruitment
• Performance assessment and recognition
• Organizational development and management

How Long to Become One

Becoming an industrial psychologist requires earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Students who choose a major other than psychology usually need to take some psychology-based classes, such as social psychology, statistics, psychological principles and research methodology. If the candidate wishes to work as an industrial psychologist, he or she will need to complete a master’s degree in industrial psychology or psychology with a concentration in industrial psychology.

In addition to learning about management and economics, the student may also be required to complete a thesis. Since the bachelor’s degree takes four years, and the master’s adds two more years, the candidate can plan on being in school for at least six years. Industrial psychologists who are interested in teaching in academic settings or performing research can complete a Ph.D. program, which can take 3-5 years to finish.

While earning the doctoral degree, the student will spend about two years on just coursework alone and then another year or two writing a dissertation and doing research. The student may also have to complete a practicum or internship. The length of time it takes to become an industrial psychologist will depend on how far the individuals wants to advance his or her education.


Most states require psychologists be licensed. In most cases, the individual will need to satisfy the following requirements before he or she can obtain licensure as an I-O psychologist.

• Complete a Ph.D. program
• Complete a supervised internship
• Take and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology

It’s important to realize that licensure may not always be required. Once the individual determines in what sector he or she wishes to work, the candidate can obtain licensure requirements from that particular state’s licensure board.

Career Outlook for Industrial Psychologists

As of a May 2017 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, industrial psychologist wages ranged from $50,730 at the low end to more than $184,520 at the top 90 percent, with the average wage being at $102,530.  The highest wages for industrial psychologists can be earned in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Missouri.