How Can I Become an Industrial Psychologist?

Research what it takes to become an industrial psychologist. Learn about educational and licensing requirements, career outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Industrial & Organizational Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Industrial Psychologist?

Industrial psychologists help increase employee well-being and workplace productivity. They do this by applying principles and research methods of psychology, the study of human behavior. They closely analyze areas like workplace conflict, management, procedure and morale. They use their findings help leadership with organizational development, human resources and policy. The table below contains important details about becoming an industrial psychologist.

Degree Required Master's degree is typical; Ph.D. is needed for licensure
Education Field of Study Industrial-organizational psychology
Licensure Varies; required in some states, depending on job duties
Job Growth (2014-2024) 19%*
Median Salary (2015) $77,350*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Industrial Psychologist Positions Are Available?

Several job titles in this specialized area of psychology may interest you. According to O*Net OnLine, these include industrial-organizational psychologist, organizational psychologist, organizational consultant, management consultant and management psychologist (www.onetonline.org).

What Types of Duties Will I Perform?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you would use psychological theories and research to optimize workplace conditions for employee satisfaction and company productivity (www.bls.gov). As a result, you will probably work closely with management and other personnel. You might be directly involved with hiring and training employees, assessing and reorganizing the work environment, conducting and applying research or consulting on sales and marketing issues.

What Kind of Degree Is Required?

If you are currently pursuing or already have a bachelor's degree, you could work as an administrative assistant or support staff member for a licensed psychologist. You could also work for the federal government, where a bachelor's degree is considered sufficient for entry-level psychology positions. However, you'll need at least a master's degree in order to work as an industrial-organizational psychologist, according to the BLS.

What Courses Can I Take?

At the undergraduate level, you can take general introductory classes in cognitive, developmental, physiological and social psychology. Courses in language acquisition and public policy are often included as well, and so are opportunities for independent study and internships.

At the master's level, you can expect to take core classes and seminars in professional practice, quantitative methods, research methods and statistical analysis. Most master's programs require completion of a thesis; an internship may be required as well.

At the doctoral level, you may focus on field- and team-based research in preparation for your dissertation. You would also take specialized seminars on topics such as engineering psychology and human performance, leadership, occupational safety and work motivation.

How Do I Obtain a License to Practice?

According to the BLS, you may not need licensing to work as an industrial-organizational psychologist if you don't directly treat clients. The Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology, Inc. notes that licensing requirements vary between states (www.siop.org). If your state does require licensing, you'll generally need to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program from an accredited university. In addition, you must have worked under a licensed psychologist, received a qualifying score on the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) and passed a state board oral exam.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you would like a career related to psychology or studying the human mind, you may be interested in occupations such as anthropologists and archaeologists, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, and school counselors. Anthropologists and archaeologists study the cultural history and development of human life. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work with those struggling with mental or emotional disorders, or personal conflicts; those that specialize in marriage and family focus on that demographic. School counselors work with students to achieve their academic goals. All fields require a master's degree for entry.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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