What is Industrial Organizational Psychology?
Commonly referred to as I-O psychologists, industrial organizational psychologists observe, analyze, and interpret human behavior in professional environments. I-O psychologists use a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to study individual and group performance, satisfaction, safety, health and well-being.
By studying worker attitudes and behaviors, I-O psychologists are able to recommend or create improved hiring practices, training programs, feedback systems and management techniques to boost company performance. Their knowledge and skills apply to almost any organization, including corporations, factories, nonprofits, government agencies, and the military.
This page takes an in-depth look at an I-O psychologist’s typical day and what it takes to excel in the field.
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What Does Industrial Organizational Psychologist Do?
Typically, I-O psychologists work as consultants who are contracted by companies to reform their business practices. Some may be hired on as full-time, salaried employees to oversee an organization’s human resources department. Regardless of where they work, a good I-O psychologist possesses the following skills and competencies:
Skills and Competencies
Complex Decision Making and Sound Judgement
Systems Analysis and Evaluation
Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
Fluency of Ideas
Research Data Analysis
A consulting I-O psychologist investigates multiple factors, such as employee happiness, company culture, training gaps, group dynamics, job assessments and ergonomics to determine the best way of implementing reform.
We have broken down consultants’ four primary specializations to provide a clearer picture of their professional responsibilities.
Areas of Expertise in the Industrial Organizational Psychology Field
1. Talent Development and Training
Identifying the skills needed to excel in a position and developing programs to cultivate those skills is the domain of specialists in talent development.
Examples of Company Issues Addressed
- Disparate training strategies
- Lack of motivation or direction
- Inaccurate job assessment techniques
Using their expertise, consultants form a skills review for a position based on their own value and competency frameworks. With this overview, they can easily identify the gaps in employee education and develop an effective strategy to overcome them.
Common Job Titles
- Talent Manager
- Workforce Insight Specialist
- Professional Development Leader
2. Hiring and Recruitment
Professionals in this area specialize in determining not only the type of person best for a role, but how to locate and hire them.
Examples of Company Issues Addressed
- High employee turnover
- Recruitment difficulties
- Low employee satisfaction
Similar to consultants in talent development, these individuals identify the skills needed for a position through a job analysis. Once the necessary competencies are assessed, they design pre-employment screenings and create a unique interview process designed to attract the perfect candidate for the job.
Common Job Titles
- HR Practice Leader
- Talent Management Specialist
- Employment Testing Professional
3. Performance Assessment and Recognition
Performance management involves developing and implementing employee assessment techniques.
Examples of Company Struggles
- Employee apathy
- Inaccurate employee evaluation metrics
- Company underperformance
An I-O psychologist consulting in this area will determine critical position skills, establish company goals through internal interviews and then develop a review and commendation process reflecting their findings.
Common Job Titles
- HR Organizational Development Specialist
- Testing Programs Supervisor
- Behavioral Analyst
4. Organizational Development and Management
This field is the most all encompassing of the four listed here and professionals consulting in this arena apply their skills to determine if a company is efficient, productive and profitable.
Issues Consultants Help With
- Major mergers
- Problematic corporate culture
- Rapid expansion
The tools of an organizational development specialist are vast, but they will frequently use mediation, competency models and candidate assessment to identify and resolve a company’s issues.
Common Job Titles
- Industrial Relations Specialist
- Organization Effectiveness Consultant
- Optimization Advisor
Industrial Organizational Psychology By the Numbers
In general, psychologists enjoy median annual salaries of $79,010 and an above-average projected job growth rate of 14%. While clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn an annual median salary of $76,990, I-O psychologists bring in an annual median wage of $97,260.
The government offers the highest salary opportunities for psychologists across disciplines. Other lucrative industries include hospitals, ambulatory healthcare services, and elementary and secondary schools.
With the growing demand for psychological services in schools, mental health centers, and hospitals, employment rates for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists are expected to increase. Additionally, many organizations are turning to I-O psychologists to help improve efficiency and organizational productivity, cultivating a steady job growth rate for the occupation.
How Do I Become Industrial Organizational Psychologist?
The path to success in I-O psychology begins with education. While some schools offer a bachelor’s in I-O psychology, a master’s degree is the minimum recommended credential to enter the field. A PhD is often necessary to remain competitive at higher employment levels. Internships are common among students and highly recommended to gain practical experience while pursuing a degree.
We’ve outlined the path you need to follow in order to enter the I-O field.
Licensure for Industrial Organizational Psychologists
To qualify for the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential, candidates must meet all National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) standards. These requirements include completion of a school psychology program comprising at least 60 credits, along with a supervised internship experience.
The internship component should include at least 1,200 hours in school psychology with at least 600 hours completed in a school setting. Once NCSP candidates satisfy the educational criteria, they must complete and pass the Praxis School Psychology Test demonstrating their competencies in the field.
Active NCSPs enjoy a multitude of benefits including increased job flexibility and mobility, more demonstrated credibility for potential employers, national recognition for their skills and knowledge, and the potential for better employment benefits and salary opportunities. Currently, 33 states in the nation accept, acknowledge, or recognize the NCSP credential as meeting the requirements for school psychologists.
Psychology Internship Opportunities
Many psychology programs require students to participate in an internship or practicum. These opportunities allow learners to connect the concepts and skills developed in the classroom to real-life experiences. While internships and practicums feature similar frameworks, the scope of work between the two experiences differ.
Students participating in practicums work closely with psychology professionals, watching them counsel their patients and recommend treatments. Internships involve more independent work, with interns reporting to supervisors, but conducting much of their work without direct supervision.
Since internships and practicums focus on providing students with practical experience, students can complete their field experience in the setting related to their career goals. Candidates can find opportunities in substance abuse facilities, private practices, correctional facilities, and rehabilitation facilities.
The length of the internship or practicum and the specific requirements involved varies by program, but learners typically complete more than 1,000 hours during their experience. Internships are most often unpaid and are instead rewarded in academic credits, which also vary by institution. Readers can review this page to learn more about the resources and specific internship opportunities available to them in the psychology discipline.
Find a Industrial Organizational Psychology Degree Program Near Me
Industrial-organizational psychology degree opportunities differ according to degree level, location, and delivery type. Learners can use the following database to explore the specific opportunities available to them, adding in the factors that matter most to them to yield search results that align with their needs.