Careers: Industrial Psychologist

Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Careers

Do you ever stop and think about what causes people do what they do in the workplace? Do you ever wonder what motivates people to do a good job, or to come to work on time, or to lead effectively? If so, then the field of industrial psychology may be right up your alley.

What Is It?

Simply put, industrial psychologists apply the principles of psychology to the workplace. For example, they might try to figure out a way to make employees more productive, or management more effective. They can be employed in their own small business, or by large corporations. They are also employed by colleges and universities, hospitals, and even the government.

Industrial psychologists help address workplace problems.

Industrial psychologists help address workplace problems.

Industrial psychologists are problem solvers. They spend a lot of time meeting with clients to gain an understanding of that client’s organization and the problems it faces (such as an underperforming workforce). Then, they conduct research–such as focus groups or surveys–and apply what they learn and their knowledge of human behavior to solve the problem. Communication skills are very important, because industrial psychologists write proposals and often publish their findings.

Educational Experience

To become an industrial psychologist, you will need a master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O or IOP). A doctoral degree in the field isn’t required, but is recommended as it will give you access to more job opportunities. It is also helpful to take relevant internships to gain experience. And as with many other jobs, good critical thinking and communication skills are essential; experts suggest you work on strengthening these areas as much as possible.

Job Outlook

Industrial psychology was recently ranked second in a list of top science jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is experiencing excellent growth: 19 percent from 2014 until 2024, which is much higher than the average for other jobs. However, because this is such a small field to begin with, this equals only about 400 new jobs in the industry over the ten-year period. The average salary for an industrial psychologist is $77,350 per year, with an unemployment rate of just 1.2 percent.

Pros and Cons

If you choose to enter this field, you can expect to experience an average level of satisfaction with your stress levels and your work-life balance. You will also have many opportunities to work with people. Problem-solving can be very satisfying and rewarding, and most people in this field enjoy some degree of job flexibility as well.

On the other hand, when research doesn’t go as planned, it can be frustrating or stressful. And as mentioned previously, while job growth is excellent, the field is still very small and therefore extremely competitive.

Dig Deeper While the average yearly salary for an industrial psychologist is listed at $77,350, the amount you earn may fluctuate greatly depending on where you live. For example, professionals in higher-paid cities such as New York City and Washington D.C. can make over $158,000 a year, while in other areas the salary for the same job may be closer to $77,000. The following website allows you to enter your zip code to learn what the average salary for an industrial psychologist would be in your area. Based on the salary for where you live, would you want to pursue a career in this field? Why or why not?