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

degree path for 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. This role allow candidates like you to study human behavior and apply that knowledge to the workplace. The profession is 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

Industrial-organizational psychologists 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.

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Other types of psychologists, have goals of researching how the human brain works or counseling people experiencing mental illnesses. The might specialize in personal and psychological problems.

Industrial-organizational psychologists apply what they learn to a specific environment: the workplace. They study human behavior.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that they’re also involved in:

  • management and working styles
  • productivity
  • workplace policy planning
  • employee training
  • the hiring process
  • organizational development.

Industrial-organizational psychologists work with management and administration to solve workplace problems. They 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 says. Industrial-organizational psychologists may also need to get a professional license.

Until recently, the number of industrial-organizational psychologists has been relatively small. In 2012, the BLS reported 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. 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 reports, 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.  You can earn a high salary in an occupation that’s experiencing rapid growth. You can also combine your two passions: understanding human behavior and improving the workplace.

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