If you’re thinking about pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology, you may want to know, “How much do organizational psychologists make?” After all, how much money you might earn in your career is an important factor in choosing your career path.
An organizational psychologist is a sub-type of psychology, and these professionals typically work for large businesses and non-profit organizations. There are many other areas of employment for organizational psychologists, including for government agencies and being self-employed.
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Naturally, where you’re employed as an organizational psychologist will influence how much money you can make. But it’s just one factor among many that affect your potential income.
Current Wage Statistics for Organizational Psychologists
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects earnings and employment data for all occupations in the United States. Their data shows that the mean hourly wage for an organizational psychologist was $54.18 as of May 2020. This yields a mean annual salary of about $112,690.
Among organizational psychologists, the lowest 10 percent of earners have an hourly wage of $27.61, the 25th percentile has an average hourly wage of $33.55, the 75th percentile is $66.32, and the 90th percentile is $92.69.
The median hourly wage for organizational psychologists is $46.28. The median is the point at which half of earners make less and half of earners make more than the median.
From a salary standpoint, organizational psychologists in the lowest 10 percent of earners make a median yearly salary of $57,440 per year. Workers in the 25th percentile earn a median salary of $69,780 while earners in the 75th percentile earn a median yearly wage of $137,830. Organizational psychologists in the 90th percentile earn a median wage of $192,800.
The median yearly salary for organizational psychologists is $96,270.
Pay Based on the Industry of Employment
The BLS notes that the highest-paying industries for organizational psychologists include:
- Scientific research and development services
- Local government, excluding schools and hospitals
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
- State government, excluding schools and hospitals
And while these industries all pay organizational psychologists very well, how well they pay varies widely from one to the next.
The scientific research and development services field is at the top of the list with a mean hourly wage of $72.55 and a mean yearly salary of $150,910. Second on the list is local governments, which pay a mean hourly wage of $53.86, or an annual mean salary of $112,020. This is obviously a very large difference in pay between the top two paying industries for organizational psychologists.
The other three industries on the list are much closer in terms of the pay they offer. Colleges, universities, and professional schools pay a mean hourly wage of $50.22 and a mean yearly wage of $104,470. Management, scientific, and technical consulting services come in at a mean hourly pay of $47.52 and a mean yearly pay of $98,840. Rounding out the top five is state governments which pay a mean hourly wage of $41.57 and a yearly wage of $86,460.
There are many other variations in pay as well. As with any career field, you’ll find that there might be positions in state governments that pay far more than the $86,460 noted earlier. Likewise, even though the mean yearly salary for organizational psychologists in scientific research and development is over $150,000, some psychologists in that field earn much less. Often, it comes down to the specific business or organization with which you are employed.
Salary By Location of Employment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salaries of organizational psychologists also vary by the city and state in which they work.
There is not enough data from all states to calculate average hourly pay. However, of the states that report at least 30 people working in this occupation, the highest paying ones are:
- New Jersey
Organizational psychologists in California earn a mean hourly wage of $57.26 per hour and a mean annual salary of $119,100. In New Jersey, you might expect to earn slightly less – $51.24 per hour or $106,570 per year.
In Ohio, organizational psychologists earn an average of $47.49 per hour and $98,770 per year. In Pennsylvania, those figures drop to $45.68 per hour and $95,000 per year.
While Texas represents the fifth-highest average wages for organizational psychologists, it lags far behind the first four states on the list. You can expect to earn $31.17 per hour or $64,820 per year working as an organizational psychologist in Texas.
In terms of income you might expect in specific metropolitan areas, the Washington, D.C. area is at the top of the list. Organizational psychologists in and around the nation’s capital a mean hourly wage of $83.06. The mean annual salary for organizational psychologists in this area is $172,770.
The San Jose, California area is also known for high incomes in this field. At $62.96 per hour, the mean hourly wage is far less than in Washington, D.C., but still an excellent income. That works out to a mean yearly wage of $130,950.
One must also consider the cost of living expenses associated with living and working in certain areas.
For example, while Washington, D.C., and San Jose offer very high wages for organizational psychologists, the cost of living is also very high. According to PayScale, the average cost of living in Washington, D.C., is 39 percent higher than the national average. This includes housing expenses that are 148 percent higher than the national average.
The cost of living in San Jose is even higher. The overall cost of living is 49 percent higher than the national average. Housing expenses are 148 percent higher than the national average as well.
Compare that with the cost of living in Denver, Colorado, which is 12 percent higher than the national average, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which is 15 percent below the national average. While these and other cities around the nation might not have organizational psychology incomes as high as Washington, D.C., and San Jose, the lower cost of living might make up for some or all of the gap in salary.
So, while the dollars and cents of the salary you’re offered are certainly important to consider, it’s necessary to think about how far those dollars and cents will go. If you’re paying more for housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, and other necessities, taking a lower-paying job in a cheaper place to live might actually mean you end up with more money in the bank at the end of the month.
Education and Experience Affect Your Salary
One of the most significant factors that will determine your pay is your level of education and experience. In broad terms, the more education and experience you have in organizational psychology, the more money you can make.
For example, if you are a recent graduate of an organizational psychology master’s program and you have one year of experience in a supervised internship, you might be offered a job that pays $75,000 per year. By contrast, if you have a Ph.D. and one year of supervised experience in an internship setting, you might be offered a salary of $85,000. These are just sample numbers, but they reflect how additional education can help you command a higher salary.
Getting another degree isn’t necessarily the only way to boost your education, and thus your salary. In some cases, employers might offer you a higher salary if you have an educational or professional certification that is pertinent to the type of work they need you to do.
So, if you work for a large company, you might get a certificate in Organizational Behavior to enhance your skills as they relate to improving the workings of a business. As a result of getting this certificate, your employer might boost your salary.
Your level of on-the-job experience is also a critical factor in how much money you make. Obviously, if you have little to no experience, you won’t be offered a salary as high as someone that has 25 years of experience in this field.
To demonstrate this point, consider this: According to Salary.com, an organizational psychologist with three to four years of experience might earn $119,927 per year. However, with 15-19 years of experience, that number jumps to $132,158.
There are variations, of course. For example, if you have a Ph.D. and five years of experience, you might make about the same as an organizational psychologist that has a master’s degree and ten years of experience. As another example, if you have a master’s degree and one year of experience, you might make less than an organizational psychologist with a bachelor’s degree and 15 years of experience. It’s a balance of both education and experience that generates the average salary you might expect.
Other Factors That Go Into an Organizational Psychologist’s Salary
Apart from the industry in which you’re employed, the geographic location in which you work, and your level of education and experience, there are several other factors that might affect your salary as an organizational psychologist.
Particularly in research-related work settings, experience in research can get you a higher salary. For example, if you have written multiple peer-reviewed articles that have been published in journals, you might be in line for a higher salary than an applicant that has no such experience. Likewise, the more research you do, and the more articles you have published, your employer might give you continued raises.
Another factor to consider is the tasks related to the position. If the job you’re applying for has a high level of responsibilities, it’s safe to assume that it would include a higher salary to compensate you for those extra responsibilities.
Working for yourself can also have a significant impact on the income you can expect to earn. In many cases, organizational psychologists who are in private practice earn far more than what they might earn if working for someone else. Part of the reason for this is that you can charge whatever you want per hour (within reason, of course) rather than working in the confines of what an employer has established for hourly or yearly pay.
Your competency and level of performance on the job can certainly influence how much money you make as well. If you establish a reputation for being a skilled organizational psychologist, employers will notice and might compensate you with higher earnings. If you’re self-employed, building a solid reputation will enable you to attract more clients and charge a higher fee, too.
Lastly, changes in the economy can result in changes to your expected pay. If economic conditions are strong and businesses are growing, they will be more inclined to offer organizational psychologists a better compensation package.
However, if there is an economic downturn, businesses and organizations might have to make budget cuts, and that could mean a dip in how much money they offer when hiring organizational psychologists. Worse still, some businesses might forego hiring an organizational psychologist at all if the economy is in a bad spot.
Why it’s Important to Evaluate Potential Salaries
As we’ve discussed, examining the salary of an organizational psychologist by years of experience, geographic location, industry of employment, and other factors gives you an idea of what to expect in a job offer. This will help prepare you for life after graduation with a ballpark idea of how you might fare from a salary standpoint.
But examining the salary you might earn can’t be done in a vacuum. It is also important to consider the cost of living in the place you will work or reside because large cities tend to have a higher cost of living compared to rural areas of the same state.
Understanding the answer to “How much do organizational psychologists make?” could also help you identify whether or not a salary offer is fair. Accepting the first job you’re offered is often not encouraged, specifically for this reason. Armed with this salary information, you can apply for organizational psychology jobs, understand what you might expect, and be able to compare your job offers and select the one that offers the best salary.
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Updated May 2021