Candidates interested in careers where they can help improve morale and productivity in the workplace often wonder what the difference is between industrial-organizational psychology and human resources. As similar as these two fields may be, they are also very different. An industrial-organizational psychologist typically does research and studies employees and how they think and what will make for a better workplace. A human resource manager may develop programs but generally deals with providing the actual benefits and compensations to the employees. Both of these professionals are assets to the workplace.
What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?
An industrial-organizational psychologist applies principles of psychology to the workplace. They study mental and human behavior, employee screening, workplace productivity and organizational development in the workplace. They might provide executive coaching, team-building activities or pre-employment testing. Degree programs in industrial-organizational psychology teach students how to assess, study and evaluate human behavior in the workplace. Courses like learning and cognition; motivation; and behavior modification help the student learn more about human behavior in the real world or, in this case, in the workplace.
What is Human Resources?
A human resource manager is a member of the human resources department of an organization. They are in charge of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, disciplining and terminating employees. They also put together benefit plans, compensation packages, and insurance plans while also dealing with legal problems and staff issues. Whereas I/O psych degree programs have courses on organizational theory and organizational behavior, human resource degree programs have courses in marketing, accounting, and economics. Human resources managers also handle timekeeping and payroll.
Similarities and Differences Between the Two
Industrial-organizational psychology and human resources are similar fields in that both professionals are focused on making an organization an attractive workplace and keeping their employees happy. The simplest way to describe the main difference between the two is that I/O psychologists study the employee behavior to determine what benefits will make them as satisfied and productive as possible, whereas, human resources managers have the task of putting together, implementing and providing the benefits and packages to the employees.
If there is a disciplinary issue, the I/O psychologist might study and research what made the employee act in that manner, but it’s the human resources manager who will handle the problem.
Two major differences between the two professionals are the salaries and the educational requirements. Human resources managers generally earn higher wages that I/O psychs. Human resource managers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Industrial-organizational psychologists are usually required to have a master’s degree.
The projected job growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is similar for both of these professionals. Industrial-organizational psychologists are expected to see a job growth of 8% between 2016 and 2026 while human resource managers should see a 9% increase. As of a May 2017 wage report by the bureau, industrial-organizational psychologists earned an average annual wage of $102,530 while human resource managers earned $123,510.
As the economy continues to grow, businesses will continue to look for qualified employees and ways to make the workplace an attractive place to work, which can put these jobs in demand. Careers in industrial-organizational psychology and human resources can be rewarding as well as challenging for an individual who wants to play a role in helping make an organization as profitable as possible.