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What is Organizational Psychology, and Why is it Growing so Rapidly in the United States?


Have you ever seen a movie in which a company calls in a “pro” to solve a workplace issue? Whether they are hired to help companies boost employee morale or enhance productivity in an organization, the real-world title for these “pros” is an “industrial-organizational psychologist.”

These specialized, rapidly-growing career paths are ideal for people who are interested in both the psychology and the work life of business organization professions. Alliant’s California School of Professional Psychology can help you become a part of this growing field by earning a master’s degree or a doctoral program.

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What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

Industrial-organizational psychology (also known as IO psychology) is a specialized branch of psychology focused on, “the scientific study of human behavior in organizations and the workplace,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA). The field is relatively young, as the development of industrial-organizational psychology began around the turn of the 20th century. However, many of the foundational concepts were being used long before its recognition as a psychological specialty.

What does an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Do?

Early industrial-organizational psychologists mainly focused on job efficiency, such as optimizing the number of items a factory worker could inspect per workday. Today, I-O psychologists use scientific methods to apply psychological principles across a wide range of areas, including administration, human resources, personnel psychology, marketing, management, and training. Their ultimate goal is to identify and solve problems relating to the workplace.

Today’s industrial-organizational psychologists may:

  • Determine barriers to company growth and employee productivity
  • Design measures to examine workplace performance and job satisfaction
  • Formulate more effective training programs
  • Optimize the work environment to promote quality of life for employees
  • Identify core personality traits that work best for specific roles and skills
  • Help companies select and promote the best candidates
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of newly implemented training programs or workplace protocols
  • Research consumer behavior and marketing trends

Industrial-organizational psychologists may be employed in a variety of settings, such as consulting firms, I-O psychology consulting firms, research and development firms, colleges and universities, large corporations, psychology companies, and community organizations. In addition to working in-house or by consultation, I-O psychologists also work with research groups to explore aspects of employment such as using research methods to improve employee engagement, job analysis, company culture, sexual harassment, and stigmas in the workplace.

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Industrial-Organizational Psychology Outlook

Among today’s competition in the business sector, the need for companies to operate more efficiently and to retain the nation’s best and brightest is more important than ever. It has also created a demand for practitioners like I-O psychologists with insider knowledge about how successful businesses operate.

In previous years, industrial-organizational psychology has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing fields in America by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career path for psychologists, in general, has been projected to grow by 18% between 2014 and 2024. However, many projections single-out I-O psychology as the career path that will see the most growth over the next decade among the psychological career specializations.

Industrial-organizational psychologists may enjoy competitive salaries based on their given employer and job experience. According to 2016 information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I-O psychologists have a median salary of $82,760. Those who command the highest salaries are employed by scientific, research, and development firms.

How to become an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Are you thinking about pursuing a career in industrial-organizational psychology? If so, graduate-level training could help you move forward in this growing field of I-O psychology. The California School of Professional Psychology offers both a Master’s and PhD Programs for students wishing to turn their experience into expertise, and expertise into leadership. Coursework involves in-depth training, both in the classroom and in the field, led by experts in the field.

Interested in an organizational psychology program? Get started in an industrial-organizational psychology education by enrolling in the Masters or PhD in Organizational Psychology degree program. 

Contact an Admissions Counselor at Alliant International University. Alliant will help you take the next step in your career.


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