What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist?

If you have an interest in both the business world and human behavior, a career in industrial-organizational psychology could be the perfect choice for you. Not only does this role allow candidates like you to study human behavior and apply that knowledge to the workplace, but the profession is also experiencing rapid growth. The United States Department of Labor recently ranked industrial-organizational psychologist number one on its list of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Jobs.

The Role of an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Like psychologists in all fields, industrial-organizational study human behavior, including the cognitive, social and emotional processes that drive it. They observe and assess why people behave in the ways they do.

Unlike other types of psychologists, whose primary goal might be researching how the human brain works or counseling people experiencing mental illnesses or personal and psychological problems, industrial-organizational psychologists apply what they learn to a specific environment: the workplace. In addition to studying human behavior, they learn about management and working styles, productivity, workplace policy planning, employee training, the hiring process and organizational development, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Industrial-organizational psychologists work with management and administration to solve workplace problems and improve the work lives of everyone employed with the business or organization.

The Education Path for an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

The most important requirement you need to become an industrial-organizational psychologist is a master’s degree in psychology. Your graduate studies will likely include courses in research design and statistics as well as industrial-organizational psychology specifically. Of course, before you study at the master’s degree level, you will have to earn your undergraduate degree. A bachelor’s degree in general psychology is the most popular choice. Some schools offer bachelor’s degree programs specifically in industrial-organizational psychology.

A master’s degree is the accepted requirement for attaining a position as an industrial-organizational psychologist, according to the United States Department of Labor. However, earning a doctoral degree can open up more opportunities for industrial-organizational psychologist candidates, the American Psychological Association reported. Industrial-organizational psychologists may also need to attain a professional license, the United States Department of Labor reported.

Until recently, the number of industrial-organizational psychologists has been relatively small. In 2012, the BLS reported just 1,200 of these professionals across the nation. Over just a decade, though, the BLS expects opportunities in this occupation to increase 53 percent, far faster than the 12 percent job growth predicted for psychologists as a whole or the 11 percent job growth expected across all industries. In addition to a positive job outlook, industrial-organizational psychologists enjoy a high pay rate. They earn a median annual salary of $83,580, the BLS reported, compared to just $69,280 for all psychologists and $34,750 for all occupations.

A career as an industrial-organizational psychologist can be very fulfilling. Not only can you earn a high salary in an occupation that’s experiencing rapid growth, but you can combine your two passions: understanding human behavior and improving the workplace.

Related resource: 30 Best Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Degrees from Private Colleges

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