Industrial-organizational psychologists use their understanding of human behavior to help improve a company's effectiveness. They also design policies and programs to hire, train, evaluate, and retain employees. They may, for example, help companies navigate mergers and layoffs due to budget cuts.
Distance learners can complete their bachelor's in psychology and master's in industrial-organizational psychology online to start their career. Learn more about industrial-organizational psychology, the requirements to become one and how to complete your psychology degrees online.
What Is an Organizational Psychologist?
Becoming an industrial-organizational psychologist means understanding human behavior to help improve a company's effectiveness. In many companies, they create systems for hiring, training, and evaluating employees. They also develop programs and policies to help boost employee morale and retention.
Others may specialize in a particular area, such as planning company mergers or assisting with downsizing due to budget constraints. Regardless of the focus of their work, industrial-organizational psychologists must observe, analyze, and design programs.
Industrial-organizational psychologists commonly work as independent consultants and assist private companies with specific organizational issues. These professionals may also find full-time positions in larger organizations with human resources departments. Industrial-organizational psychologists can use their skills across many different work settings:
- Nonprofit organizations
- Government agencies
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for industrial-organizational psychologists will grow by 4% from 2021-2031. Candidates with a master's degree or doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in industrial-organizational psychology and training in quantitative research methods hold a competitive edge when applying for open positions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Industrial-Organizational Psychology
What does an industrial-organizational psychologist do?
An industrial-organizational psychologist uses their understanding of psychology and human behavior to create programs and policies for recruiting, reviewing, and retaining employees. They can work as independent contractors or in the human resources departments of corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies.
Why is industrial-organizational psychology important?
Industrial-organizational psychologists perform important research and analysis to determine new ways to solve issues among coworkers. These psychologists identify training and development needs, create criteria to evaluate individual and organizational performance, and implement training programs to improve efficiency.
How much do industrial-organizational psychologists make a year?
Industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median annual pay of $105,310, according to the BLS in March 2023. Salaries vary depending on location, educational background, and experience level.
How do I become an industrial-organizational psychologist?
To become an industrial-organizational psychologist, individuals must begin by earning a bachelor's degree in psychology, which typically takes about four years to complete. Once they earn a bachelor's degree, each learner must pursue a master's degree, followed by a doctoral degree.
Do you need a Ph.D. to become an industrial-organizational psychologist?
Yes, most positions require candidates to hold a doctoral degree in psychology, along with some previous relevant work experience. Some employers offer employment opportunities to industrial-organizational psychologists who hold master's degrees.
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Can You Get a Degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology Online?
Online programs typically share the same coursework, assignments, instructors, and examinations as their on-campus counterparts. Most master's in industrial-organizational psychology programs do not lead to licensure. As such, they do not require clinical work, so enrollees can complete them without any in-person components.
Online programs offer more flexibility than campus-based programs. Students can watch lectures and complete assignments on their own schedules. This flexibility allows you to continue working and balance their studies with family and other personal responsibilities.
Some programs allow degree-seekers to move through coursework at their own pace to revisit concepts or skip ahead as needed. Online programs are also ideal for distance learners who simply prefer the convenience of studying at home. While online programs offer many benefits, students must possess strong motivation and time management skills to excel.
Are Practicums and Internships Required in an Online Industrial-Organizational Psychology Program?
If you are earning a master's in industrial-organizational psychology program online, you may need to complete a practicum or internship, but they are not a requirement to earn your degree.
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) provides guidelines for the education of industrial-organizational psychologists that say master's programs should provide "meaningful professional supervision of the training experience." SIOP recommends that experience as a supervised internship that lasts up to a year. However, an internship is not a requirement to complete your online degree or start your career.
Other examples of supervised training experience include practicum experiences, field-work teaching or training, and thesis research. Online students may find internships through their university's career center, Handshake, LinkedIn, or Indeed. If you cannot get a practicum or internship arranged in your area, you can complete a thesis and still meet the requirements for your online master's degree, which is the minimum degree requirement for industrial psychologists, according to the BLS.
How to Become an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
To become an industrial-organizational psychologist, each student typically needs a bachelor's and a master's degree. Bachelor's programs usually take about four years to complete, and master's programs typically take about two years. Some online programs offer accelerated options that allow students to earn graduate credit while pursuing their bachelor's degrees.
The cost of undergraduate education varies greatly by program. Students looking for comparatively inexpensive options should consider state schools. In-state tuition is almost always more affordable than at private schools, and sometimes in-state tuition is available to all online learners regardless of their location.
The cost of a graduate degree also varies, but according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, students incurred an average of $60,000 in debt to earn a master's degree in psychology. Online industrial-organizational psychology degree programs can help students save money by avoiding commuting costs and any additional room and board fees.
Average Salary for Psychology Graduates by Degree Level
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
Master of Arts, Psychology
Doctor of Psychology
Source: Payscale, March 2023
Online Bachelor's in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Before pursuing higher education and becoming licensed, each student must earn a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's typically requires 120 credits and usually takes about four years to complete. Some schools offer accelerated online programs for enrollees to complete in 3.5 years. Dual-degree options allow students to begin graduate coursework while still earning their bachelor's degree, which helps them to save time and money.
Students can pursue a bachelor's degree in industrial-organizational psychology, though some aspiring professionals typically seek bachelor's degrees in psychology. Programs with a focus in industrial-organizational psychology explore organizational behavior and employee assessment. Both programs provide students with foundational knowledge and skills in areas like
- Personality theory
- Cognitive psychology
- Child development
- Research methods for the behavioral sciences
Introduction to Psychology
This course provides a broad overview of the principles, processes, problems, and applications of psychology. Students learn about the brain and nervous system, consciousness, learning and memory, sensation and perception, and psychopathology.
History and Systems of Psychology
In this course, learners discuss and evaluate psychology's historical roots, including the people and movements that have shaped the field. Students learn about the history of psychological practice and theory.
Introduction to Psychological Measurement
This course introduces students to key research concepts. This class explores the history and current applications of test construction, standardization, validity, and the reliability of psychological instruments.
Introduction to Career Development
In this course, degree-seekers explore career counseling theories and techniques, with a particular focus on working with diverse client populations. Topics include career counseling, decision-making, researching career opportunities, building employable skills, and assessing value and interest.
This class prepares enrollees for master's-level coursework in industrial-organizational psychology. Students learn how to maximize efficiency in a range of organizational settings. The course explores motivation, morale, ethics, and training.
Online Master's Degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
An industrial-organizational psychologist typically needs a master's degree in psychology to enter the field. A master's degree requires students to complete around 36 graduate-level credits. Full-time students can earn their master's degrees in about two years, while part-time enrollees take three years or more. Some programs follow a cohort format, meaning students take 1-2 classes at a time as part of a group. Other programs are self-paced to create even more flexibility for online learners.
Industrial-organizational psychology master's programs feature coursework in personnel psychology, the ethics of the profession, organizational behavior, and leadership. Research-based programs also include classes in qualitative and quantitative research methods to prepare learners for thesis or capstone projects.
Psychology of Organizational Behavior
Students examine the application of behavioral theories in organizational contexts. The class covers subjects in team building, group development, employee motivation, job satisfaction, organizational leadership, and organizational culture.
Consulting for Organizational Change
Enrollees examine the fundamental techniques of change management. Topics include strategic planning and conflict management. Students can apply these skills through organizational case studies.
Personnel Psychology in the Workplace
In this class, learners explore the psychological aspects of job design and analysis, employee selection and placement, professional development and training, and performance management and evaluation.
Industrial-Organizational Testing and Measurement
This class examines measurement theory and assessments used in organizational settings. Topics include reliability and validity, normative sampling and standardization, test score interpretation, and test development. Students also learn about cultural biases and sociological issues as they relate to testing.
Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
This course helps students develop knowledge and skills in data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Students learn and apply statistical concepts, explore the importance of quality assurance, receive training on statistical software, and synthesize their learning by developing a quantitative research plan.
Required Licenses and Internships to Become an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Requirements to become an industrial-organizational psychologist vary by state. Industrial-organizational psychologists usually need a master's degree to start their careers. Internships may not be required depending on your program, career path, and state's requirements. However, the SIOP recommends you get one because internships provide valuable experience.
However, most states do not require industrial-organizational psychologists to have a license or a doctoral degree because they perform different duties than most other psychologists. Other states require industrial psychologists to have a license to perform certain duties.
Find out the requirements for practicing industrial-organizational psychology in your state by contacting your state board. Contact information for each state board is available through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.
Careers for Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree-Holders
Students who have earned an online master's in industrial-organizational psychology can pursue many different roles. Some work independently, consulting with various organizations on a case-by-case basis, while others prefer full-time employment in the for-profit or nonprofit sectors. All jobs in this field require excellent observational, analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Management consultants help companies improve specific facets of their business. They may boost productivity or enhance the company's public image. Consultants diagnose an organizational issue, create a plan for addressing that issue, and present their recommendations to a company's managers. Many management consulting jobs require a master's degree in a related field, such as business administration or industrial-organizational psychology.
Consulting psychologists offer expertise and technical assistance to individuals, groups, and organizations. They work in an advisory manner, leaving it up to the client to accept and implement their recommendations. The American Psychological Association recommends that consultants hold a master's degree in a field like clinical psychology or industrial-organizational psychology.
Personnel Research Psychologist
Personnel research psychologists work on issues related to employee selection and workforce evaluation. They design, validate, and administer assessments for hiring and promoting employees. These psychologists must possess strong quantitative and qualitative research skills. Many positions require a master's degree.
Human Resources Team Leader
These professionals manage an organization's human resources department. They hold high-level responsibility for hiring, training, and evaluating employees. They may also draft company policies, mediate employee disputes, or create programs to improve worker satisfaction. A bachelor's degree usually suffices for entry-level jobs, but a position like human resources director may require a master's degree.
Industrial-organizational psychologists analyze human behavior in professional environments and use their findings to improve an organization's effectiveness. Industrial-organizational psychologists must possess strong communication skills to relay their findings to non-psychologists. Most jobs in this field require a master's degree, though some employers may prefer candidates with a doctorate.
What Does an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Make in a Year?
Industrial-organizational psychologists enjoy mean annual wages of $90,820, according to Payscale data in March 2023. Salary opportunities for these professionals differ depending on location, education, and experience. Psychologists in their early career take home an annual mean wage of $80,220, based on 72 reported salaries, while experienced professionals earn an annual mean wage of $115,230, based on 33 reported salaries.
The scientific research and development services industry offers the highest employment levels, concentration of jobs, and salary opportunities for industrial-organizational psychologists. These professionals can explore the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs in Virginia and the highest-paying opportunities in California.
The following table allows readers to compare the industrial-organizational psychologist occupation to similar professions in the field in terms of salary data.
|Position||Average Annual Salary|
|Human Resources Team Leader||$59,310|
Source: Payscale (March 2023)
Page last reviewed February 15, 2023