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Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: Education and Career Information

An industrial-organizational psychologist is also known as an organizational psychologist, or an I/O psychologist. This profession places a high emphasis on the study of people in their workplace. This role helps in the decision-making process for the leadership team and has proven to be very effective when understanding the employer-employee relationship. This can be a very lucrative opportunity for someone who enjoys the corporate environment and is interested in human resources.

What does an industrial-organizational psychologist do?

An industrial-organizational psychologist works within different departments of the organization to bring order out of chaos. This person speaks to the employees, conducts surveys and understands the culture to make improvements where needed. Industrial-organizational psychologists apply science and research to creating solutions that work. They help put processes in place that assist in how employees are selected, trained, and interact with others for professional competence and effective management.

Industrial-organizational psychologists assess applicant and employee testing, assessments for leadership development, staffing, management, teams, compensation, workplace safety, diversity and work-life balance issues. They use science-based research to help human resources departments, observe how well training programs work within the organization, and puts protocols in place to ensure workplace morale remains high throughout company change. They also work within the college and university system as facilitators, trainers, coaches, and consultants. It is not uncommon to find an industrial-organizational psychologist working in a human resources office in some capacity.

Overall, they increase productivity in the workplace and work to enhance the quality of the organization.

How much does an industrial-organizational psychologist earn?

Industrial-organizational psychologists earn about $65,000 per year with a master’s degree, and up to $81,000 with a doctoral degree. If working in the private sector, industrial-organizational psychologists can make well over $100,000 per year. This is dependent on the area, years of experience, degrees obtained and a host of other factors.

What types of skills does an industrial-organizational psychologist need?

Communication: Being able to communicate with different levels of management, human resources and the employees is essential in being successful in this position.

Research: Being able to research information and gather data from employees is important. This position uses that data to make informed decisions on the viability of certain programs, to gauge how well a program is working, to develop new programs and improve employee morale.

Collaboration: An industrial-organizational psychologist works with a number of departments to achieve goals. They work with all levels of human resources and collaborates with outside organizations when developing employee assistance programs.

Goal-setting: Setting achievable and reasonable goals when developing programs for the organization is important. Being able to turn those goals into results is essential.

Ability to focus: An organizational psychologist must be able to focus on a number of projects at one time to keep morale high and concentrate on the internal workings of the organization.

Motivational and persuasion skills: To reach certain goals, there must be a certain amount of motivation in place. An industrial-organizational psychologist must be able to persuade management and employees on the value of certain programs, changes and projects, and their usefulness to the organization as a whole.

Management: Being able to effectively manage a number of people and projects is crucial in being successful in this position. There are a lot of variables involved when improving the health of an organization. Providing structural guidance is key.

Administrative skills: Administrative skills are needed to put together programs, organize data, take notes and keep things running smoothly. The use of a computer and other software and tools that will be needed can make a huge difference in productivity.

Coordination: An industrial-organizational psychologist must be able to organize large groups of people when conducting research or surveys, having group meetings and coordinating new processes. The coordination of programs and processes takes specialization. An organizational psychiatrist must be able to assess all the elements of an issue or program in development to properly coordinate the components needed to be successful.

Organization: An industrial-organizational psychologist must be very organized and detailed in order to develop and implement a number of programs that will benefit the organization. When dealing with outside agencies, being able to organize needs from wants can assist in putting the right programs in place.

Internship requirements

The internship requirements are based on the program, but usually last about two years. Internship time may also be added when doctoral students are completing their dissertation or thesis.

Educational requirements

The first step in becoming an organizational psychologist is to obtain an undergraduate degree in general psychology. Understanding the mind, processes and how they work is crucial. Coursework in this area include classes in psychological principles, statistics, social psychology and research methodology.

Once the bachelor’s degree is obtained, the individual must be prepared to pursue a master’s degree in organizational psychology. Coursework for this program includes:

•Industrial psychology
•Training and compensation
•Statistical inference
•Organizational psychology
•Research methods
•Performance appraisals
•Correlation and experimental design

Master’s programs focus on research design and methodology.

The next step would be to obtain a doctoral degree (PHD or PsyD). This will add an additional two to five years to complete.

Once you have completed the program and supervised work experience, you will have to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). The final step will be to apply for licensure in your specific state to practice. Once you have obtained this license, you will be able to practice organizational psychology in an academic setting or within a large corporation, where most organizational psychologists can be found.

This could be a rewarding career path if you are interested in the corporate arena and in helping organizations improve their processes and how they deal with their employees. Industrial-organizational psychologists are sorely needed to make sure employees are happy, protocols are in place and companies have the right management team in place to get things accomplished.

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