When most people think of psychology, they picture a person with a notepad looking down on a troubled individual lying on a couch. In reality, this captures only one tiny segment of the field of psychology. One of the least known, yet most used and currently relevant, areas of this field is Organizational Psychology. This article will explain what it is and how to pursue it as a career.
Often referred to as Industrial-Organizational(IO) Psychology, this area of psychology concerns interactions between people in the workplace. IO psychologists apply psychological information and practices to solve issues and improve moral between superiors and staff, as well as between coworkers. They assist human resources professionals in hiring the right employees and treating them properly when letting them go. They help bosses place their staff most efficiently, motivate their employees, and create positive workplace cultures. They help businesses create success by organizing structure and studying consumer needs and wants.
How IO Psychology Works
IO psychologists accomplish these tasks in a number of ways. They introduce reward systems, both internal and external, to help motivate employees. Internal reward includes things like praise, while external includes things like bonuses and benefits. The Global Institute for Research & Education explains that according to Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation, employees who are motivated work more efficiently.
IO psychologists conduct a wide variety of surveys. They use them to find out customer demands and satisfaction. They are helpful in assessing employee morale, goals, and opinions, especially those they are not comfortable divulging directly to their superiors.
There are many settings in which to work as an IO Psychologists. Here are the most common:
- They might be on the staff at a specific company, working only for that company.
- They might work for an IO organization that sends IO Psychologists to multiple workplaces. These organizations might conduct a wide variety of IO tasks, or they might focus on one type in particular.
- They might set up a private practice and work under contract with companies they form partnerships with.
Those who find this information to be an inspiration for a future career should start by earning a bachelor’s Degree in IO Psychology. From there, it might be advisable to earn either master’s degree or doctorate in IO Psychology, depending on opportunities and career goals. Someone who simply wishes to move to an advanced position within their current organization might be satisfied at the bachelor’s level. Those looking to break into a whole new career, practice privately, research, or teach at the college level might choose to progress to the master’s or doctorate.
Work Settings for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
An industrial-organizational psychologist typically works in an office. However, they may tour a production or manufacturing work area in order to observe the workers doing their jobs. They may hold meetings in conference rooms or conduct observations in cafeterias and other parts of a workplace.
The typical work settings of industrial-organizational psychologists include production and manufacturing facilities, corporate headquarters, colleges, universities and scientific research centers or laboratories. An industrial-organizational psychologist may also work in a government agency. A few industrial-organizational psychologists spend 50% or more of their time traveling to satellite work locations. These individuals usually have a home office at the corporate or agency headquarters.
Six Specializations of Industrial-Organizational Psychology
There are six specializations of industrial-organizational psychology. These are employee motivation, employee testing, leadership, product design, workplace diversity and workplace performance. An industrial-organizational psychologist who specializes in employee motivation works on psychological principles that motivate people to do their jobs better or faster. In the employee testing specialty, the industrial-organizational psychologist administers tests to determine which worker is best for which role in a company. The industrial-organizational psychologists who specialize in leadership typically train managers on good management techniques and help executives hone their leadership skills.
In the product design area of industrial-organizational psychology, the industrial-organizational psychologist works on the development of consumer goods. The workplace diversity specialty involves helping businesses with hiring practices that encourage a diverse workplace. They also offer employee training on diversity in the workplace. An industrial-organizational psychologist who specializes in workplace performance examines and implements ways to improve the processes and environment for more efficient and effective work.
Job Outlook for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected rate of growth for jobs in industrial-organizational psychology is 3% between May 2019 and May 2029. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations in the United States. There will be about 5,700 more jobs in all areas of psychology, including 1,100 industrial-organizational psychology. An industrial-organizational psychologist who has a lot of experience and training in quantitative research methods will have the best prospects of gaining employment.
Which Industries Hire the Most Industrial-Organizational Psychologists?
Most of the industrial-organizational psychologist jobs are concentrated within five economic sectors or industries. Those include scientific research and development services, management scientific and technical consulting services, state government, federal government and management of companies and enterprises. These industries account for about 40% of all industrial-organizational psychologist jobs.
States With the Most Jobs in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
The industrial-organizational psychology jobs are concentrated in just a few states. The states with the highest employment numbers in industrial-organizational psychology are Virginia, with 90 of these jobs; California, with 40 of these positions; and Maryland, with 30 of these jobs. Another way to look at the states with the most jobs in industrial-organizational psychology is by location quotient. Location quotient is calculated by the number of workers in all occupations divided by the number of industrial-organizational psychology jobs. The states with the highest location quotients for industrial-organizational psychology jobs are Virginia, with a location quotient of 5.08; Maryland, with a location quotient of 2.91; and California, with a location quotient of 0.57.
Metropolitan Areas With the Most Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Jobs
Most jobs in industrial-organizational psychology are located in metropolitan areas. The Washington, D.C., Alexandria and Arlington metropolitan statistical area has the highest total number of industrial-organizational psychology jobs in the United States, at 100. The highest concentration of industrial-organizational psychology jobs is also in this area, with a location quotient of 7.00. Not many industrial-organizational psychology jobs are located outside of metropolitan areas. There is not enough data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to report concentrations outside of metro areas.
Median Annual Salary of Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
The median annual salary it the midpoint of all salaries of people in an occupation if they were placed on a line. Half of all workers earn less than the median amount, and half earn more than the median amount. The median annual salary of industrial-organizational psychologists was $92,880 as of May 2019. The lowest-paid 10% of industrial-organizational psychologists earned $51,080 per year. The lowest-paid 25% of industrial-organizational psychologists earned $61,380 per year. The highest-paid 75% of industrial-organizational psychologists had a median annual salary of $148,170. The highest-paid 90% of industrial-organizational psychologists earned more than $190,000 per year.
Mean Salary and Wage Growth for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
The mean, or average, wage of all industrial-organizational psychologists was $111,150 per year. The expected rate of wage growth for industrial-organizational psychologists is 6.2% per year, which is much faster than the national average wage increase of 2.1% per year.
Highest-paying Industries for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
Some industries pay industrial-organizational psychologists more than others. The top-paying industry in which industrial-organizational psychologists work is scientific research and development services, with a mean annual salary of more than $162,000. Rounding out the top five-paying industries for industrial-organizational psychology jobs are local government, with an average annual salary of $111,700; management of companies and enterprises, with an average annual salary of $101,600; management, scientific and technical consulting services, with average annual wages of $96,000; and state government, with an average annual salary of $72,100.
Top-paying States for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
The states with the highest rates of pay for industrial-organizational psychologists are California, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Oklahoma. Their average annual salaries are $145,410 in California, $91,530 in Pennsylvania, $70,600 in Maryland and $62,490 in Oklahoma. When considering the pay, it’s important to compare it to the cost of living. The cost of living in Oklahoma is much less than the cost of living in California.
Top-paying Metropolitan Areas for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
The metropolitan area with the highest average annual wage for industrial-organizational psychologists is Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, VA. This area’s average annual pay for industrial-organizational psychologists is $170,420. Keep in mind that this area also has a high cost of living. In particular, housing costs are 240% of the national average in the Washington, D.C., Alexandria and Arlington metropolitan area. Transportation is 135% of the national average, and groceries are 114% of the national average. For example, the cost of living in Oklahoma City, OK, is 48% lower than the cost of living in Washington, D.C. If a person earned $170,000 as an industrial-organizational psychologist in Washington, D.C., a salary offer of just $88,000 would allow them to have the same quality of life in Oklahoma.
How to Become a Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
A person who is curious about what is organizational psychology and thinks this might be a good career fit for them should consider their personality traits and characteristics. Some of the key qualities that are required for success in an industrial-organizational psychologist job include integrity, analytical ability, communication skills, the ability to observe, interpersonal skills, patience and problem-solving skills.
Industrial-organizational psychologists examine the data they collect and use it to draw logical conclusions, which is why they need analytical skills. They must also be able to communicate well so they can speak with employees or managers and describe their findings. Integrity is also necessary. Sensitive problems occur in the workplace, and they must maintain confidentiality of those situations and the people involved.
Every workplace has different personalities in it, and each place of work has a different culture. The industrial-organizational psychologist should be good at working with people of all backgrounds and personality types. They should be able to observe attitude and behavior in an objective way. This includes understanding what body language, facial expression, actions and interactions mean.
Patience is a key virtue for an industrial-organizational psychologist. Conducting research and waiting for change can take a long time. These psychologists also need to be good at solving problems. They will have to design research studies, evaluate programs and implement solutions to common workplace issues.
Education Required for Industrial-Organizational Psychology Jobs
Once a person understands what is organizational psychology, the next step is planning the educational path to qualify for one of these jobs. A doctoral degree is required for an industrial-organizational psychologist. The options for this include a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. For an undergraduate degree, most industrial-organizational psychologists major in psychology, but some may study business, human relations or a related field. Statistics and research design methods are important courses in a program for industrial-organizational psychologists.
Certifications for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
Most industrial-organizational psychologist jobs require at least one professional certification as well as state licensure to work as psychologist. The available certifications include those from the American Board of Professional Psychology. Each state has its own licensing and registration requirements. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards offers a list of each state’s educational and professional guidelines. In addition to the required degree, most industrial-organizational psychologists will have to pass a state licensing exam, submit to a criminal background check and earn continuing education units in order to maintain their license to practice as a psychologist.
Work Experience and Training for an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Before a person can practice independently as an industrial-organizational psychologist, they have to complete a clinical training program or internship. These training programs typically involve working under the supervision of a licensed practicing industrial-organizational psychologist. Each state’s requirements for training or internship hours are different. The training program may take place before the doctoral degree is earned or after the candidate graduates with their doctorate in psychology. If the training takes place beforehand, it often counts as credit toward the degree.
Work Schedules and Hours for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
Familiarity with what is organizational psychology also includes knowing about the typical work schedules of the professionals who work in the field. Most industrial-organizational psychologists work 40 hours per week during business hours. However, an urgent situation in a workplace, such as an act of violence or a natural disaster, might require the psychologist to work evenings, weekends or holidays. For industrial-organizational psychologists who work at a large corporation, they may have to travel from the corporate headquarters to satellite locations. This may also be the case for government industrial-organizational psychologists who monitor workplaces and employees of multiple government agencies.
Organizational Psychology is a growing and relevant field. It is an excellent option for those interested in psychology but not wanting to work in the clinical setting. As long as there are companies with diverse individuals working on a common goal, there will be a need for organizational psychologists.
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