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What is the Job Outlook for Organizational Psychology?

industrial organizational psychology job outlook

For those interested in the forecast futures of IO psychology work today, the current industrial-organizational psychology job outlook is quite healthy, and there is plenty of expert opinion to be found on the matter. What exactly do the experts say about IO psychology and its continued job outlook? Read on for the scoop. The industrial organizational psychology job outlook is strong, especially for people with the right skills and training. Relatively few psychologists are employed in this field, but the number of new job openings each year is enough to employ those looking for work.

The advantages of a career in I/O psychology include the fulfilling nature of the work and the high average salary. The only disadvantage is the sparse job market. After graduating from college, most job seekers will have to move to a state where I/O psychologists are employed.

What is Organizational Psychology?

When we hear the word psychology, we tend to think of sitting in a psychologist’s office and talking about our problems. This is the case with many types of psychology but not organizational psychology. Organizational psychology is a type of psychology this involves organizations, employees, and the work environment in general.

I-O psychologists spend time within an organization and do research into what employee needs must be met to have a productive workplace filled with satisfied employees. I-O psychologists deal with workplace issues, such as discrimination, sexual harassment, job training, sexual orientation, and find ways to help the organization deal with these issues and put employees in positions based on their strengths and talents. They also help organizations find the best employees for their company.

How to Become an Organizational Psychologist

i/o psychology job outlook

To become an organizational psychologist, an individual must have at least a master’s degree in industrial psychology or a relevant field. Some I-O psychologists have doctoral degrees. It generally takes from two to four years to become an I-O psychologist if the student already possesses a bachelor’s degree. In addition to coursework, the individual must complete a 1- to a 2-year internship.

If the candidate wants to use the title of psychologist, he or she must obtain licensure, Licensure can be obtained by completing the required education and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) according to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

As to that coursework, a lot can be learned about IO psychology work through a good look at the courses required along the path to this type of degree. The following represent some of that important coursework found along the way.

Principles of Industrial/Organizational Psychology

As the name of this required yet introductory course suggests, Principles of Industrial/Organizational Psychology acts as a foundational course, laying out the core principles of IO psychology today. What are the basic tenets of this branch of psychology? How did it originally come about?

It turns out, as students here will learn, that there are several foundational components to IO psychology. One of these is the personnel psychology component. Another component is that of the organizational/structural side of this psychology practice. There are several, other, key components too, but in the end, all come together in tandem in the practice of IO psychology.

Psychology of Leadership

Leadership is all about the ability to turn goals and aspirations into tangible action and real-world practice. To that end, leadership has been extensively studied over the years and has been broken down into numerous, key components so that those who study it may truly become masters of its potential. In the required IO psychology course Psychology of Leadership, students can expect to learn about leadership self-awareness, “authentic” leadership, influence, strategy and transformation in leadership, and plenty more.

Consultation Psychology

Consultation psychology, or consulting psychology as it’s also referred to, is a smaller sub-branch of psychology that focuses on the parameters of the use of psychology in consultation practices. Consultation itself is the practice of assessing and providing subsequent expert advice. When psychology is applied in consultation, often the focus of the consultation then might be on subjects like organizational culture and trends, interventions, deep employee assessments, and more. Learn the ropes of it all in this required IO course.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology Practices in Human Resource Management

While IO psychology work might be utilized all throughout an organization and by numerous levels of management therein, its specific utilization within the human resources world is extensive and very well deserving of some dedicated coursework in the typical IO psychology degree program. This course teaches students about the different types of interactions and effects IO psychology has in the HR office. Students will also learn how that effect can ripple far outside of the confines of HR.

Survey of Research Methods

Survey of Research Methods is a common, required course in many degree programs today. It can be seen as a requirement in data science degrees, medical degrees, and even accounting degrees among others. IO psychology degrees are also one of those that often require this course.

Here, students learn all about research and the best ways to conduct it. Beyond the general research method, though, this course also teaches the specific best practices in research associated with particular disciplines. In this case, the focus is on research in and of the IO psychology world.

Job Outlook for Organizational Psychology

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that psychologists should see an increase in job growth during the decade of 2016-2026, the branch of psychology will affect employment growth. Psychologists overall should see a 14 percent increase while I-O psychologists are only expected to see a growth of 8 percent. The job growth may vary by geographic location. For instance, there is typically a higher need for I-O psychologists in large cities with various industries than in small towns. In a 2014 BLS report, I-O psychologists ranked No. 1 among the 20 fastest-growing occupations.

Wage Potential for I-O Psychologists

io psychology job outlook

According to a BLS survey on wages for social occupations, such as sociologists, historians, economists, market research analysts, and clinical/school psychologists, I-O psychologists earned the highest mean wages. As of May 2017, organizational psychologists earned an average annual wage of 102,530 with wages ranging from $50,730 to $184,520. The five top-paying states for I-O psychologists were Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Massachusetts.

Potential to Increase Wages

The above-mentioned wage numbers for those who work in industrial psychology provide a solid idea as to what these professionals can earn, but the ability to make even more doesn’t necessarily stop there. One great way to make beyond the expected wage numbers here is through consultation work. With reasonable experience, IO psychologists can often be very successful in setting up their own consultation business. In this setting, they work strictly for themselves with all, ultimate profit going directly to them.

In some other cases, these professionals have been seen using their unique set of skills to move into higher levels of corporate management in some organizations. An IO psychologist who works their way into a job as a director of human resources, a development manager or a chief officer position of some kind can make substantially more than the traditional IO psychologist while still employing many of their native skills on a day-to-day basis. These are just some examples of the many possible ways in which today’s IO pro can branch out and earn even more.

Industrial Organizational Psychology Job Outlook by State

I/O psychology is a specialized field, and many parts of the country don’t offer job openings for this occupation. The top states for I/O psychology careers are California, Virginia, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings for I/O psychologists in other states are too few to sample.

The top state for this field is California, which employs around 190 I/O psychologists in total. California also offers the highest median annual salary for I/O psychologists at $119,100. The state with the second-highest median annual salary for I/O psychologists is Ohio, which employs approximately 30 people in this field.

Although the employment numbers for I/O psychologists are low, the job outlook for people entering this profession is about average. Employment growth in this field is expected to continue at around 3 percent through 2029, according to the BLS.

Competition for Jobs

With average job growth in this field, the competition for jobs is about average. Job seekers can gain an advantage with advanced education and certification. A graduate certificate in I/O psychology is somewhat like a one-year master’s degree. Certificates are available online and in most accredited colleges with graduate programs in psychology.

Job seekers with the most education, training and natural affinity for psychology will have the best prospects. Although the overall job numbers in this field are low, the competition for jobs isn’t overwhelming. Qualified I/O psychologists who don’t find a job right away may choose to look in a related field for opportunities.

Job Outlook for Similar Occupations

I/O psychologists have a special skill set that includes psychology, counseling, business, management and statistical research. A few similar occupations are survey research, sociology, career development, mental health counseling and market research, according to the BLS.

The most natural career change for an I/O psychologist would be a switch to survey research or career development. In most cases, no further training or education would be required. However, I/O psychology offers a substantially higher median salary than any related occupations. The only related field that comes close is sociology with a median annual salary of $86,110. Moreover, the job outlook for related fields is about the same as it is for I/O psychology.

The Impact of Automation and Outsourcing

psychology job outlook

One advantage of I/O psychology is that it can’t easily be replaced through automation or outsourcing. Psychologists and counselors have to deal with their clients in person, so people skills are essential in these professions.

While automation can reduce jobs in quantitative fields, such as accounting and stock trading, it can’t replace jobs that require caring and other types of emotional work. Outsourcing isn’t likely to reduce I/O psychology jobs because they require personal contact between clients and providers. It isn’t practical for I/O psychologists to work remotely because they need to be on personal terms with the workers in their companies. Before they can make changes in an organization, they must know the individual strengths and weaknesses of the employees.

Additional Resources

For those interested in learning even more about the IO psychology profession, associated industry demand info, professional networking info, or anything else related to the practice today, there are a number of excellent resources in IO psychology with which one can followup further. The following three resources are among the most reputable and representative of the industry right now.

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology

The Society for Industrial and Organizational is a leading resource for the IO field. Here, those interested in the subject can find a wide array of media resources, educational resources, event info, career info, and much more. Membership to this professional organization is also an option for many that comes with its own extensive lineup of benefits.

Psychology Today

Psychology Today is a premier, general resource for all things related to psychology. Visitors to this organization’s website can find virtually any resource or info they may need on any psychology topic, and the topic of IO psychology is also covered thoroughly here. For your convenience, the above link to the online journal directs visitors to an entire list of IO psychology topics covered by the site.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association is another general psychology organization, but it is also the official, representative organization of the greater professional psychology world. Here, visitors can find all types of info and networking potential in any branch of psychology. Again, the link above will direct the visitor directly to a list of the organization’s various wares on IO psychology specifically.

American Board of Professional Psychology


Finally, yet another, vital force and resource in the IO psychology world today is the American Board of Professional Psychology. This board acts as the accrediting board for many psychology branches and their associated practice. All are welcome to inquire with this important organization about various psychology topics, and membership or application for services are not required.

The best way to have satisfied and motivated employees is to know “what makes them tick” and provide them with a satisfying workplace based on their needs. To keep up with the growing economy, more companies are using I-O psychologists. This itself is even further proof that the industrial-organizational psychology job outlook is quite healthy for the distant, foreseeable future.

Psychology careers are surging in popularity as the demand for mental healthcare rises. I/O psychologists can take advantage of the increasing awareness of mental health in the workplace. Because I/O psychology is a specialized profession, most companies that employ I/O psychologists are progressive businesses with large staffs, such as California’s tech giants. For the foreseeable future, the industrial organizational psychology job outlook is solid and growing.

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