What is the Industrial Organizational Psychology Job Outlook?

industrial organizational psychology job outlook

Experts agree that the current industrial psychology job outlook is quite healthy. What exactly do the experts say about IO psychology and its continued job outlook? Read on for the scoop!

The IO psychology job outlook is strong, especially for people with the right skills and training. 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 IO psychology include the fulfilling nature of the work and the high average salary. The only disadvantage is the sparse job market.  Most job seekers with a master’s degree or doctoral degree will move to a state with greater demand for their skill set.

What is Organizational Psychology?

When we hear the word psychology, we tend to think about sitting in a psychologist’s office, 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
  • work environment

Industrial organizational psychologists spend time within an organization.  They conduct scientific research.  They try to uncover what makes an organization more productive and ways to boost employee satisfaction. Industrial organizational psychologists deal with workplace issues such as:

  • discrimination
  • sexual harassment
  • job training
  • sexual orientation

They find ways to help the organization deal with these issues.  They strive to 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

An individual must have at least a master’s degree in industrial psychology or a relevant field to become an IO psychologist. Some IO psychologists have doctoral degrees.  Students with a bachelor’s degree can become an IO psychologist is just two to four years of additional study.  Graduate programs often include an internship component.

To use the title of psychologist, an IO psychology professional must obtain licensure. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, licensure can be obtained by completing the required education and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

Future IO psychology students can learn a lot about the field by looking at some of the courses required to complete a graduate program. The following represent some of that important coursework found along the way.

-Principles of Industrial Organizational Psychology

Principles of Industrial Organizational Psychology acts as a foundational course.  It lays 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 that all come together in tandem in the practice of IO psychology.

-Psychology of Leadership

Leadership is about turning goals and aspirations into tangible action and real-world practice. Leadership has been extensively studied over the years and has been broken down into numerous, key components.  That those who study leadership truly understand 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
-Consultation Psychology

Consultation psychology, or consulting psychology, is a smaller sub-branch of psychology.  It 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
  • organizational development

Learn the ropes of it all in this required IO course.

-Industrial Organizational Psychology Practices in Human Resources 

While I O psychology is used throughout an organization, it’s use within the human resources world deserves recognition. Students learn the different types of interactions and effects IO psychology has in the human resources office. Students will also learn how that effect can ripple far outside of the confines of human resources.

-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. I O psychology degrees are also one of those that often require this course.

Students learn all about scientific research and the best ways to conduct it. This course teaches the specific best practices in research associated with particular disciplines. In this case, the focus is on research in and of the I O psychology world.

Industrial Organizational Psychology Job Outlook 

Is industrial organizational psychology in demand?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that psychologists should see an increase in job growth between 2016 and 2026.  The branch of psychology will affect employment growth. Psychologists, in general, should see a 14% increase while industrial psychology jobs are only expected to see a growth of 8 percent. The job growth may vary by geographic location. More industrial organizational psychologists work in large cities with various industries than in small towns. In a 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, IO psychologists ranked No. 1 among the 20 fastest-growing occupations.

Wage Potential for an Industrial Organizational Psychologist

io psychology job outlook

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey on wages for social occupations, such as sociologists, historians, economists, market research analysts, and clinical/school psychologists, IO psychologists earned the highest mean wages. As of May 2021, organizational psychologists earned an average annual wage of $113,320 with wages ranging from $63,750 to $168,300. The five top-paying states for corporate psychology jobs were:

  • Virginia
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Ohio
  • Massachusetts

The top paying industries for IO psychologists according to the BLS are:

  • Local Government (excluding schools and hospitals)
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Employment Services
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
  • State Government (excluding schools and hospitals)

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.  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, an industrial organizational psychologist can be very successful 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, IO professionals use their unique set of skills to move into higher levels of corporate management . Some high paying roles include:

  • director of human resources
  • an organizational development manager
  • a chief officer position of some kind

These roles allow IO psychology professionals to use 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

You might be asking, “Are there industrial organizational psychology jobs near me?”  IO psychology is a specialized field, and many parts of the country don’t offer job openings for this occupation. The top states for industrial organizational psychology careers are:

  • California
  • Virginia
  • Texas
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings for industrial organizational psychologists in other states are too few to sample.

The top state for industrial organizational psychologist jobs is California.  California employs around 270 industrial and organizational psychologists. California also offers the highest mean annual salary for IO psychologists at $123,090. The state with the second-highest mean annual salary for IO psychologists is Oregon, which employs approximately 50 people in this field.

Although the employment numbers for IO psychologists are low, the industrial organizational psychology 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 best employment prospects are those with the most:

  • education
  • training
  • natural affinity for psychology

Although the industrial organizational psychologist outlook for overall job numbers is 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

Industrial organizational psychologists have a special skill set that includes:

  • psychology
  • counseling
  • business
  • management
  • statistical research

A few similar occupations according to the BLS include:

  • survey research
  • sociology
  • career development
  • mental health counseling
  • market research

The most natural career change for an industrial organizational psychologist would be a switch to survey research or career development. In most cases, no further training or education would be required. However, industrial organizational 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 industrial organizational psychology.

Related Resource: What are Psychomotor Skills?

The Impact of Automation and Outsourcing

psychology job outlook

One advantage of industrial organizational 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 industrial and organizational psychology jobs because they require personal contact between clients and providers. It isn’t practical for industrial organizational 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

There are several excellent resources for IO psychology professionals who want information about:

  • the industrial and organizational psychology profession
  • industry demand
  • professional networking

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 Psychology 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

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. 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

A 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.  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 industrial organizational 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. Industrial and organizational psychologists can take advantage of the increased awareness of mental health in the workplace. Due to the specialized nature of the field, most IO psychology jobs are with larger organizations in big cities.  For the foreseeable future, the industrial organizational psychology job outlook is solid and growing.

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