Industrial – Organizational Psychologist Career Guide

Industrial – organizational psychologists (sometimes I/O for short) use psychological theories and research to solve all kinds of problems in the workplace, including ones surrounding employee engagement, motivation and/or training.

If you are someone who enjoys working with others and is passionate about solving workplace problems, then this fast-growing, fast-paced, diverse  may just be for you!

When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation.

Industrial – Organizational Psychologist Career Ratings



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Job Profiles

Real-Life Industrial – Organizational Psychologist Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Industrial – Organizational Psychologist field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33439 Health Technician Female 40 $41,616 Nashville, TN 01/01/2010


The name for this career varies depending on whereabouts in the world you live. Some countries say ‘industrial psychologist’, others ‘organizational’ and others ‘occupational psychologist’. For the purpose of this career guide, we will use the term ‘I/O psychologist’, but when doing further research, remember that they all mean the same thing!

What an Industrial – Organizational psychologist actually does

Like all careers, the typical duties and responsibilities of an I/O psychologist depends on who they are employed by and where they work.

However, typically I/O psychologists will work within the human resources offices, with their main purpose being to use psychological principles and research methods to solve all kinds of problems in the workplace. They work to improve the efficiency of any organization by improving the organizational structure and the quality of life for employers and employees.

Their main duties and responsibilities include:

  • Helping to develop and plan organizational policies
  • Carrying out screening of new candidates. This involves using a wide range of assessments to see if they would be a good fit for the job
  • Identifying the need for and implementing training and motivation plans
  • Working with other departments to develop plans to improve organizational efficiency
  • Studying, assessing and analyzing consumer behavior
  • Assessing employee job performance using a range of up to date tools and assessments

Why they are needed

I/O psychologists study the individual and the organization, from which they can assess the dynamics of that workplace and determine ways to help them communicate better, increase their productivity and be more effective.

They collect data, analyze results and problem solve to ensure that organizations can have new ways to improve morale, motivation, boost efficiency, decrease absenteeism and lower the turnover rate. This is why I/O psychologists are needed, they work to resolve all sorts of issues that are hindering organizational growth and productivity and they ensure that the workplace run smoothly.

The pros and cons of a career as an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist


  • I/O psychologists often receive a good salary and benefits packages
  • As the industry is quite broad and diverse, there is lots of room for progression and specialization. You can work in employee relations as a specialist, but then later change to health and safety, or employee training. You can also progress to more senior positions with greater ease than in other professions, start your own business or become a consultant; which in turn gives you more autonomy and flexibility
  • Most I/O psychologists find that their job is a very rewarding job. Often, you are helping employees to be more productive, more satisfied and more fulfilled, which in turn has a direct impact on the efficiency and productivity of the organization


  • As an I/O psychologist, you can often work long hours. These hours can involve lots of social interaction and problem solving, which can be emotionally exhausting and draining
  • It can be a hard career to get into as you will need to attend university to acquire the extensive skills, knowledge and experience required
  • Some aspects of the work that I/O psychologists conduct can be quite tedious and time consuming, such as scrolling through hundreds of research papers or doing administration
  • Sometimes the work can be challenging as not everyone will like your ideas and interventions and won’t want to welcome the change you are promoting


Job market

The Bureau of Labour Statistics has predicted a 14% increase in industrial – organizational careers from 2018 to 2028. This is faster than average in comparison to other careers, and makes it the fastest growing psychology career.

I/O psychologist are predicted to have strong career prospects as more and more businesses are recognising the competitive advantage of managing their talent and using strategies to make organizations more effective. However, the field is fairly competitive as the diverse field path and salary make it attractive.

Career paths

The career path to becoming an I/O psychologist begins with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, or another related field. You will then need to earn a master’s degree, or equivalent, in industrial, occupational or organizational psychology. This will open you up to many entry-level opportunities.

However, to have more opportunities for success as an I/O psychologist, it would be wise to consider achieving a doctorate degree in a related field, especially if you wanted to go into academia.

Once qualified, most I/O psychologists work in management or in scientific and technical consulting services. Client options are endless and there is a diverse range of progression opportunities, all which tend to offer competitive salaries and attractive benefits packages.

Example Job Titles for Industrial – Organizational Psychologist

Below is a list of common job titles in the Industrial – Organizational Psychologist field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to PayScale, the average salary for an I/O psychologist in the States is $75,000 per annum. The top 10% earn over $127,000 and the lowest 10% will earn less than $41,000 per year. However, it is predicted that industrial – organizational psychology is to become one of the highest paying psychology professions.

Autonomy and flexibility

Like many careers, autonomy and flexibility increases with the more experience and knowledge you have. Entry level positions will probably require you to be managed by someone and therefore have less flexibility and autonomy. However, there are many opportunities for consultancy, self-employment and senior roles in this career, meaning that autonomy and flexibility can be very high.

Locations and commute

In theory, wherever there are businesses, there is a need for I/O psychologists, meaning jobs are available in many locations. As always, there is likely to be more opportunities in bigger cities, where businesses are bigger and often more results driven. However, the trade off for more opportunities is that there is also more competition in large cities. Smaller and local business will also need help from I/O psychologists, so should be able to find work near where you live that requires a short commute.

According to Zippia, the best states to be an I/O psychologist, based on average annual income and number of opportunities available, were:

  1. Oregon, where the average annual salary is $112,476
  2. Idaho, where the average annual salary is $102,631
  3. Michigan, where the average annual salary is $95,805
  4. Illinois, where the average annual salary is $97,457
  5. Washington, where the average annual salary is $113,486

The worst states, according to Zippia are Kentucky, Vermont, Mississippi, Florida and Hawaii.

Work environment

There is generally fairly good job security for I/O psychologists. When working in lower positions, you will most likely be on a contract, which provides you with security. When working as a consultant or being self-employed, you will have security from returning customers, providing you provide a good service.

I/O psychologists tend to have excellent working conditions as they will work in offices or training facilities. They typically work in small teams where their co-workers are friendly, non-competitive and supportive.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Industrial – Organizational Psychologist careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Industrial – Organizational Psychologist career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Industrial – Organizational Psychologist.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

Big Five (OCEAN)


Holland Codes (RIASEC)

Personality types

The exact personality type of those who are successful as I/O psychologist is yet to be investigated. However, as you can imagine, you will need to score high on conscientiousness in order to meet deadlines and manage your own clients. Similarly, as I/O psychologists need to interact and build relationships with clients each day, they will also most likely need to be extraverted in order to be successful.

Accomplishment and mastery

Most of the companies that an I/O psychologist work for are results oriented. This means they allow employees to use their strongest abilities to solve problems and work efficiently, meaning that the career often offers a good sense of accomplishment.

What is more is that because the training to become an I/O psychologist is fairly lengthy, there is a strong sense of mastery once you achieve the knowledge and skills required to be considered an expert.

Meaning and contribution

The meaning and contribution are high for a career as an I/O psychologist as you will be working closely with businesses to help them solve the problems that make them less productive and/or efficient.

You will also implement ways to get lots of different people enthusiastic about their job again, improve their skills and their motivation. This means that you are single handily responsible for increasing their performance and productivity.

Life fit

As mentioned above, the more education and experience you have as an I/O psychologists, the more flexibility you will have to ensure your job fits with your life.

To begin with, you may have a stricter working schedule that means you work long and set hours. However, as you advance and progress, you will be able to decide what days and what times to meet clients, how many clients you want to take on and how often you want to see them.

Who will thrive?

You will thrive in a career as an I/O psychologist if you are someone who enjoys working in fast-paced environments, where you get to interact with new people and solve new problems every day.

If you are self-motivated, are willing to commit to education, are results driven and have a genuine passion for a career that helps people love what they do, then we think you’ll thrive in a career as an I/O psychologist.

Who will struggle?

If you prefer to work with data and numbers, or don’t like social interaction, then you may struggle as an I/O psychologist. Those who are not naturally self-motivated or prefer to always be managed by others may struggle as I/O psychologists as it is common to become self-employed or a consultant, where you manage yourself.


Quick Glance

Skills and talents

  • Active listening skills are essential as I/O psychologists have to give their full attention to what their clients are asking
  • Problem solving skills are essential as I/O psychologists must identify complex problems and review related information to develop and evaluate options and find solutions
  • Oral and written communication skills are needed to communicate ideas clearly and confidently with others so that they will understand and want to implement them too
  • Technological skills will also be useful as I/O psychologists will have to use analytical or scientific software, document management software, human resources software, presentation software and spreadsheet software


To become an I/O psychology requires extensive studying. First, you will need a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.

After achieving a bachelor’s degree, you will typically need a master’s in organizational or industrial psychology. Once you have achieved this, you can then begin applying for jobs! However, some go on to achieve a doctoral degree in order to have more opportunities and career progression.


Licensing requirements for I/O psychologists varies by state, so be sure to check the guidelines for the state you intend to practice in.

On top of the relevant state licensing, some I/O psychologists seek voluntary certification from the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP) to demonstrate competency and commitment to the field

How to Become


An I/O psychologist is a fast-paced career that involves working closely with organizations to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

It is a diverse career, offering lots of room for specialization and progression. After completing both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree, I/O psychologists can begin to work with clients to work better and achieve their organizational goals.

I/O psychologists are in increasing demand, as more and more businesses are realising the competitive advantage of having engaged and motivated employees. This means that there are job available in a wide range of locations, most of which offer competitive salaries and attractive benefits package.

Immediate action

Sounds like something you’re interested in doing? Great!

Well, Like many careers, to get your foot in the door, it is always advisable to seek an internships or relevant work experience whilst completing your undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree. Work experience can even include things such as human resources administration or content management for companies that promote employee engagement and satisfaction.

Education and learning

To become an I/O psychologist, you will need to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology, and then at least a master’s degree in organizational, industrial or occupational psychology. However, many I/O psychologists go on to achieve a doctorate degree, as this gives them more opportunities and advantages.

Skill development

To develop the skills needed to become an I/O psychologist, you should consider getting relevant work experience that improves your communication, technological, problem solving and listening skills.


Ask a Question

Have a question about Industrial – Organizational Psychologist careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33439 Health Technician Female 40 $41,616 Nashville, TN 01/01/2010