Opportunities in Organizational Psychology
As professional fields change at a more rapid rate, organizational psychology jobs are in increasing demand. In many cases, organizational psychologists are in the highest demand at companies that are trying to remain relevant. Graduates proficient in organizational psychology are needed for improving company workflow, increasing motivation of employees, and ushering organizations into a mindset of continual learning and improvement.
But working in the business realm isn’t the only opportunity for graduates of organizational psychology programs. In fact, there are many different pathways you can take in your career in this field.
Organizational consultants are contracted by businesses that are seeking to improve the fluidity of their workflow. Consultants may be asked to formulate a clear work hierarchy for an organization. They might also be asked to redesign existing leadership roles to improve communication and employee morale.
This evaluation and restructuring isn’t done in a punitive way. Organizational consultants are “out to get” people. Instead, their job is to streamline operations, maximize human resources, and generally help make businesses more functional. Achieving these ends means that the workplace is more conducive to productivity. Likewise, worker morale is likely to improve.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks job data, including median salaries and predicted job outlook. While organizational consultant is not one of the careers the BLS tracks, it does offer insights into the closely related, broad-based field of management analysts. According to the BLS’ data, management analysts earn a median hourly wage of $42.14 per hour or $87,660 per year. While there are many other organizational psychology jobs that pay better, this is certainly still a well-paying job.
In terms of job growth, management analysts can look forward to strong growth through 2029. In fact, the BLS predicts a growth rate of 11 percent, which is more than double the average growth rate for all jobs over the same period of time.
So, this career path offers you challenging and fulfilling work, good pay, and good prospects for the foreseeable future. That makes it a great choice for organizational psychology graduates to pursue.
Helping businesses tap into the full potential of new and existing employees is the task of a talent developer, a position most often found in large, growing organizations.
Talent developers may be asked to assess employees on a variety of skills and are often responsible for creating ongoing development opportunities for employees. Talent developers may also be involved in the creation and implementation of strategies for recruiting qualified employees who can help grow the organization and assist the company in meeting its specific goals.
Likewise, talent developers are often asked to develop mentoring opportunities for new employees to learn from seasoned employees. They will typically work with management and executives to devise long-term plans for things like succession of roles when someone retires.
These organizational psychology jobs are a fit for professionals who enjoy building meaningful relationships with co-workers. You will spend a lot of time working one-on-one with other employees, learning about their particular education, experience, and skillsets, and evaluating what they bring to the table – and how best to put their skills and talents to good use.
Talent developers must also be team players – as noted earlier, you’ll work with management and executives, as well as people in the human resources department to devise methods of evaluating, training, and even recruiting employees.
The median yearly salary for talent developers is $115,640 per year. That breaks down to over $55 per hour, on average. But the highest earners can make over $200,000 per year, making this a lucrative position for organizational psychologists. Even the lowest 10 percent of workers in this position earn over $66,000 per year, which is significantly more than the average yearly salary for all incomes (less than $50,000 per year) as reported by the BLS.
The job outlook for talent developers is strong as well. The BLS predicts a growth rate of 7 percent through 2029, which isn’t the fastest among the careers on this list, but is still above-average when compared to all jobs for the same period.
A business’ orientation and training programs may make the difference between success or failure in the crucial areas of employee retention and engagement. An instructional developer analyzes existing training programs and identifies improvements that need to be made.
Because they work along a spectrum of employee roles and power relationships, instructional developers must be proficient in identifying the underlying components in any role within the organization. Additionally, they must be familiar with the skills necessary for success in each of those roles. This might necessitate expertise in areas in addition to organizational psychology.
For example, an instructional developer in a finance firm would likely need a good deal of experience or education in finance to fully understand what skills are required for success in different finance positions. This might mean that organizational psychology students double-major in another field, get a minor in another field, or pursue internship experiences in the field in which you would like to work.
Like other positions in the organizational psychology realm, instructional developers should have strong problem-solving and analytical skills. They should also possess the ability to identify employees’ strengths and weaknesses and use that information to develop more detailed and thorough orientation and training programs to bolster weaknesses and enhance strengths.
Though instructional development might pay as much as other jobs on this list, it’s still an excellent option. The median annual salary for this position is $62,700, or $30.14 per hour. The top earners in this profession can make upwards of $107,000, though.
Regarding job outlook, instructional developers are expected to be in higher-than-average demand over the course of the 2020s. The BLS estimates that this field will grow by nine percent, which is much faster than the average for all jobs.
A good fit for an organizational psychology graduate is a career as a behavioral analyst.
This position involves analyzing and evaluating the behavior of individuals in the workplace. In some instances, a behavioral analyst might be looking at a global pattern of behavior, such as pervasive lateness among employees. In other instances, they might work with specific employees to help correct undesirable behaviors.
Of course, behavior analysts don’t just look for negative behaviors or things that need to change. They are often asked to identify the strengths of an organization’s workers and explore ways to encourage the continuation of desirable behaviors.
In their analyses, behavioral analysts pay close attention to observable and quantifiable behaviors. That is, they aren’t exploring feelings in their analyses, but are instead observing overt behaviors play out in the workplace.
Typically, behavioral analysts work in a research role, though their jobs likely bring them into direct contact with the people they are observing. For example, upon analyzing why employees are chronically late to work, a behavior analyst might meet with the offending employees to provide training and corrective measures to curb their lateness to work.
Behavior analysts will often be asked to examine trends of behavior among other groups, too. For example, a behavioral analyst that’s employed by a car manufacturing company might be tasked with analyzing consumer behavior to identify which vehicle features are most highly sought-after.
No matter the group that’s being observed, behavioral analysts are striving to get a better understanding of behavior such that the organization for which they work can be better equipped to reach its goals.
For the purposes of determining salary information, the BLS includes behavioral analysts in the psychologist category. Psychology jobs as a whole have a median annual wage of $82,180 per year. This works out to an hourly wage of $39.51 per hour.
However, the income ceiling can be much higher. The top ten percent of psychologists earn in excess of $137,000 per year. As a behavioral analyst, you could potentially earn even more. By specializing in a particular industry, you could develop a highly desirable skill set that enables you to work as a private contractor. In this situation, the potential earnings could be significant.
Unfortunately, the job outlook for psychologists is not especially good. The BLS predicts just three percent growth through the end of the 2020s. This is slower than the average for all jobs. A silver lining is this: as businesses and industries seek ways to streamline operations and maximize productivity, behavioral analysts might see an increase in demand for their services.
Human Resources Management
Many organizational psychologists develop careers in the human resources realm. Rather than focusing on the organizational side of things, careers in this field focus more on the human component of organizations.
Depending on the place of employment, a human resources manager might handle activities related to recruiting, interviewing, and hiring employees, training new employees, and serving as mediators in workplace conflicts.
Other job duties might include oversight of benefits programs for employees, acting as advocates for employees, and serving as a go-between for employees and members of management.
Naturally, to be successful in this position, you must have excellent people skills – skills that you will develop in an organizational psychology program. You should also be highly organized, possess strong written and verbal communication skills, have the ability to analyze and solve complex problems, and apply psychological techniques in a workplace environment.
The median yearly salary for this position is in excess of $121,000, which makes it a lucrative career possibility. Broken down in terms of hourly pay, human resources managers make a median salary of $58.28 per hour.
The job outlook is fairly strong as well. The BLS estimates six percent growth through 2029, which isn’t the fastest growth on this list, but it isn’t the lowest, either. The BLS notes that to increase one’s job prospects, getting a master’s degree or higher is recommended. This is a good idea for any of the jobs discussed in this article.
Student Success Specialist
For a completely different career path, you might consider a future as a student success specialist.
Though it might not seem like a natural fit, organizational psychology and education are actually well suited for one another. A student success specialist may be involved in a variety of educational institutions from elementary schools to community colleges to masters or doctorate level education programs. Regardless of the age of the students, organizational psychologists can use their training to help guide and direct the development of students that enables them to blossom into happier, healthier, more productive people.
The responsibilities of a student success specialist are quite varied. You might be asked to devise ways of raising student retention. You might also be asked to research methods of improving graduation rates. Additionally, student success specialists might be asked to design and implement programs that close gaps in achievement due to systemic factors like income inequality or racism.
The BLS does not offer an analysis of the potential salary and job outlook for this position. However, we can use the data for school and career counselors to get a broad idea of what this job might offer you.
School and career counselors earn a median annual wage of $58,120 per year, or $27.94 per hour. The potential pay range is far wider, though. The lowest ten percent of workers might make closer to $35,000 per year while the highest ten percent of workers might make in excess of $97,910 per year.
The job outlook for education-based psychology jobs is strong. The BLS estimates a growth rate of eight percent through 2029 for this field, which is much faster than average.
Which Career Path is Right for You?
Organizational psychology is a growing field that employers are finding more crucial than ever to the success of their business, organization, or educational institution. As a professional in this field, you have a wide array of opportunities to match your specific interests and expertise.
Organizational psychology jobs will continue to grow, albeit at varying rates, and this field will continue to diversify as organizations seek more effective ways to improve. Whatever specialty piques your interest, there are likely to be a variety of job opportunities awaiting you.
B.A. Social Studies Education | University of Wyoming
M.S. Counseling | University of Wyoming
B.S. Information Technology | University of Massachusetts
Updated May 2021