A chartered occupational psychologist is involved with addressing issues surrounding the performance of workers on the job and in training, a process also known as industrial-organizational psychology. An occupational psychologist is also involved in the development of an understanding of how organizations function. A psychologist in this arena analyzes how individuals and groups function and behave in a work setting.
A chartered occupational psychologist examines how individual employees perform and behave while at work. These mental health professionals use the principles of psychology when they examine and interact with managers, employees, and business owners. Occupational psychologists may examine how people interact with the machines they use at work, or they might work on figuring out how to boost employee morale.
The role of a chartered occupational psychologist is closely related to that of an organizational psychologist, which is a different type of psychologist that examines the relationship between employees and their workplace. Chartered occupational psychologists will study the principles of industrial-organizational psychology while developing leadership training modules and examining work-life balance. A chartered occupational psychologist will often find employment in the corporate world and may be hired as a consultant.
How to Become a Chartered Occupational Psychologist
Working as a chartered occupational psychologist requires a graduate degree at a minimum, and some professional psychologists will also earn a doctoral degree. A future chartered occupational psychologist may first earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then continue into a graduate program in psychology before earning a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology degree.
Future psychologists who want to become researchers and teachers will usually choose the Ph.D. route. A Ph.D. in psychology entails extensive research, a comprehensive exam, and the writing of a dissertation. Meanwhile, students who pursue the Psy.D. option will generally complete practical work and take examinations throughout the course of their studies. Psy.D. degrees often require a one-year internship.
The explosive growth of industrial-organizational psychologists means that future chartered occupational psychologists may only need to earn a master’s degree before they are able to find work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that the employment of industrial-organizational psychologists is expected to grow by more than 11 percent in the next few years, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Classes that chartered occupational psychologists may take while in school include those in math, psychology, statistics, sociology, and research methods. Future chartered occupational psychologists can expect to take a few years to complete their master’s degree. Enrolling in a degree program from an accredited university can help future psychologists obtain grants and loans to assist with funding his or her education.
Getting Licensed as an Occupational Psychologist
The professional organization for occupational psychologists is the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and occupational psychologists can use the resources of this organization to figure out licensing requirements for their state, as well as find opportunities for continuing professional education.
The SIOP Licensing, Certification & Credentialing Committee reveals that there are four requirements that most states require for licensure. Licensure generally requires a doctorate from an accredited university and spending time under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Supervised time might come in the form of a practicum, or it might be an internship.
Future licensed psychologists must also pass an oral exam conducted by their state board, as well as take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which is a test that was created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). The test has 225 questions and is offered in multiple-choice format.
Future psychologists with questions about licensure can contact the state board in the state or province where they want to live and practice. For example, psychologists in Alaska will contact the Alaska Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners. Prospective psychologists in Connecticut will work with the Connecticut Board of Examiners of Psychologists.
In addition to securing state licensure, chartered occupational psychologists may want to explore the benefits of belonging to various professional societies like the American Board of Professional Psychology and the American Psychological Association.
Characteristics of Excellent Occupational Psychologists
Psychology is one of the most popular majors for students in the United States, but many students use their bachelor’s degree in psychology as a stepping stone into other areas of study or work like law, business, and education. However, for the student who is interested in pursuing work as a chartered occupational psychologist, there are some characteristics that might make a student particularly suited to work in psychology.
An occupational psychologist must be able to operate as part of a team or on their own, and it’s common for their work to require extensive solo study and research. An occupational psychologist might work with the human resources department at a company, or they might interface with the executives or managers of a company of which they’ve been hired.
Occupational psychologists must be comfortable in the field while working in traditional business environments, as well as be comfortable conducting research on their own. An occupational psychologist must have excellent communication skills where they can communicate verbally and through writing.
Specializations for Occupational Psychologists
Working as an occupational psychologist or an industrial-organizational psychologist generally means working to improve the lives and experiences of employees and management at large businesses. However, there are many ways to specialize in a niche or small subject area of business psychology.
One of the most common areas where occupational psychologists might work is in training and development, which is where a psychologist might make recommendations on the skills that are necessary to perform various jobs at a company. Another area where occupational psychologists might specialize is in employee selection, which is where the psychologist might develop a screening test for prospective employees.
Other areas of specialization include ergonomics, which is the design of procedures and business equipment that will help employees minimize their potential for injury, as well as maximize their performance. A related area of focus is that of organizational development, which is where a psychologist focuses on increasing the profits of a business through an examination of the company’s organizational structure.
Other focuses that occupational psychologists may adopt include performance management, which is where a psychologist will determine whether an employee is maximizing his or her potential at the company, as well as work-life balance, which is where a psychologist will gauge employee satisfaction and develop ways to increase general fulfillment for employees at a company.
How Do Occupational Psychologists Help Businesses?
There are many types of psychologists who work in all sorts of environments. There are child psychologists who work in private practice, forensic psychologists who work with lawyers and within the justice system, and educational psychologists who provide counseling and mental health services within schools. There are even psychologists that specialize in sports, substance abuse, and families.
For the industrial-organizational psychologist or the occupational psychologist, the benefit of their work is in the way they can help businesses address workplace problems that may stem from the pressures of the corporate world or inherently stressful industries. The work that a chartered occupational psychologist performs may benefit the company they’ve been hired to assist, as well as the outside community where the corporation’s employees spend their time while not at work.
One of the costliest facets of running a large business is retaining employees and reducing the costs associated with employee turnover and training new hires. An occupational psychologist can help the company’s human resources department identify problems that cause high employee turnover and develop updates to the company’s procedures that will encourage employee retention.
According to Forbes, reducing costs associated with employee turnover means examining employee productivity, looking at the supervision of recent hires, and measuring the quality of an employee’s job performance. Occupational psychologists are expertly trained to examine these facets of the business world and can become instrumental in saving a business money on employee costs.
Where Do Occupational Psychologists Work?
Psychologists usually specialize in occupational psychology because they have a desire to work in business and are interested in improving the operations of large organizations. However, business environments aren’t the only places where chartered occupational psychologists might find employment. Other industries include scientific research & development services, colleges & universities, and state government departments.
Occupational psychologists may also find work in technical consulting services for scientific companies, as well as work with the management of a variety of organizations to improve the experiences of employees. According to further data offered from the BLS on occupational psychologists, the highest-paying jobs are with scientific research and development services, with employees earning an annual mean wage of $149,780.
Geographic information shared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment for occupational psychologists indicates that the states with the most jobs are Virginia, Massachusetts, California, and New Jersey. Psychologists in California generally have the highest mean wage out of those states. The BLS also indicates that psychologists might have the easiest time finding employment in the Boston area or in Washington, D.C.
Identify Abilities and Enhance Potential
A key endeavor of occupational psychologists is to identify abilities and then assist in the development of the potential of workers. Occupational therapists accomplish this objective by utilizing a number of tools, resources, and techniques. These include tests, job-related exercises, and activities, and career counseling.
Another multifaceted endeavor of occupational psychologists is worker motivation. Towards this objective, an occupational psychologist collaborates with an employer in the design of worker payment and reward strategies and systems. An occupational psychologist also provides advice when it comes to worker safety and health issues.
Worker Performance Assessment
Occupational Psychologists provide performance assessments of workers. This includes assessments both on as well as off the job. This process involves an occupational psychologist in designing effective and meaningful appraisal systems. It also necessitates that a psychologist in this field advises employers on the myriad issues that touch on worker performance, including stress management.
Adapt to Change
Occupational Psychologists have prominent roles when it comes to the matter of adapting to change. This occurs on two fronts.
First, an occupational psychologist aids in assisting workers to adapt to organizational changes. The reality is that a business is an evolving entity and change is inevitable. The organization and its employees thrive when workers effectively adapt to change.
Second, an occupational psychologist aids in advising about change on what might be called a “micro-level.” A psychologist in this field advises on how to change worker attitudes and behavior to enhance the overall operations of an enterprise.
A chartered occupational psychologist is involved in the design of effective organizations. In this capacity, an occupational psychologist performs a number of vital functions:
- advise on optimal management systems
- identify effective strategies for human resources
- design jobs that fit worker skillsets
Apply Social Psychology to the Workplace
At the heart of the efforts of occupational psychologists is the application of social psychology to the workplace, according to Forbes magazine. Tech companies like Facebook and Google have been at the forefront of taking advantage of the skill set of professionals with a background in industrial-organizational psychology. The utilization of the skills of these professionals is expanding well beyond the tech realm as well.
The ideal occupational psychologist is one who is interested in the intersection of psychology and the working world. Occupational psychologists can help employees thrive in their roles at a large company and can have a positive impact on the revenue and the employees of that organization. Occupational psychologists may find their work personally rewarding when it leads to happier employees and more profitable companies.
A chartered occupational psychologist who is an expert in industrial-organizational psychology may look forward to an amazingly interesting work life where they might find employment at a Fortune 500 company, as well as at smaller organizations that will ultimately grow and benefit from the expertise of an occupational psychologist.