Careers in Industrial/Organizational Psych

human resources spelled out

Careers in I/O Psychology

Have you ever considerec a career in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology? To begin, I/O Psycology concerns the psychology of where people work. This kind of career leads these psychologists to work directly for a company, corporationon, or organization (e.g., in Human Resources). In addition, I/O Psychologists often work as a self-amployed consultant.
I/O Psychologists typically specialize in one of two areas. These are (1) Organizational Issues, such as how an organization is structured and operates, and (2) Personnel Issues- the interplay between an organization and the people in that organization.

In this way, I/O Psychologists help companies/organizations consider the people who are in the workplace. This includes the hiring of employees. In addition, there is the selection and placement of workers,  training  (e.g., technical training, sexual harassment training), and issues of quality or work (e.g.,  job satisfaction, work-life balance). Given all of the ways I/O Psychologists can help a company/organization, it should be clear that these psychologists are in high demand, espectially with companies /organization always trying to find how to do more with less.

If your interest in I/O Psychology is more on the research side, you might choose to go into academics. You can be hired as a faculty member in various departments: Psychology, Management, Organizational Behavior or Industrial Relations. Your research can be focused on either applied questions (i.e., scientific solutions to human problems at work) or basic questions (i.e., increasing the scientific knowledge base).
It's great to know that there are many different career paths within I/O Psychology, that the field is growing, and that the salary levels in this field are generally high. However, we must be clear that actually entering the field of I/O Psychology typically requires a graduate degree. With an undergraduate Psychology degree, there are some job possibilities (e.g.,Human Resources), but not that many. Part of this is due to the fact that undergraduate degree programs typically do not have an I/O track. Students interested in an I/O Psychology degree may finish their undergraduate degree, take some time off to gain real-world experience and then go back to college to earn an advanced degree. We will add that as an undergraduate one way to facilitate your career is take courses related to I/O Psychology (e.g., Business Psychology, I/O Psychology and Personality), get involved in I/O Psychology research, and do an I/O-related internship.
men and woman at a business meeting
Graduate schoool in I/O Psychology can lead to a Master's degree or a PhD degree. For the former, you will take 2 years of graduate school to, and typically you must pay tuition. For a PhD degree the average time to degree is 5 or 6 years. The good news if you go for a PhD is that you typically do NOT pay tuition and you receive a stipend (a type of salary) for serving as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Research Assistant (RA). More information about I/O Psychology can be found at the Society for I/O Psychology at

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

Want More?

Visit our website to learn more about possible careers for psychology majors or those interested in jobs that involve psychology.

Learn how to succeed in college with Professor Golding’s blog.

Check out Dr. Lippert’s website to learn about her work as a cognitive psychologist.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook