Looking for a career that is well-paying and in demand? As an IO Psychologist, I was excited to see that my field is the number 1 best new career for people over 40 according to AARP. The association asked career expert Dr. Laurence Shatkin to recommend in-demand occupations that would require additional education. But you don’t have to be over 40 for this to be a good career choice.
What Is IO Psychology?
Industrial-Organizational or IO Psychology is the field that is concerned with the human side of organizations. The field is concerned with a very wide range of people issues, such as employee recruitment/selection, training & development, health, safety, & well-being, motivation, performance, mistreatment & violence, leadership, and teams. IO psychology is an evidence-based field, relying on analytics, data science, and a variety of research approaches. The Society for IO Psychology provides details about the things IO Psychologists do.
Where Do IO Psychologists Work?
Because of the wide range of issues IO psychologists address, they can be found working in a large range of settings. Many IO psychologists become college/university professors, with most working in either a Psychology Department, or a College of Business. I teach in both settings. Others work for private corporations, serving as technical experts to support the HR function. IO psychologists are also consultants, either working in their own private practices or for consulting firms. Still others work for government or the military.
How Do You Become an IO Psychologist?
To become an IO psychologist, you need a master’s (MA) or doctoral (PhD) degree. Although most IO graduate students have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, that is not necessary as IO psychologists come from many different backgrounds, including business, engineering, humanities, mathematics, and natural science. and even the arts. There are many MA and PhD programs throughout North America and the world. Admission to the best programs is competitive, as IO is a high-demand field. I have written a guide to pursuing an IO career.
MA or PhD?
Thinking about an IO career? You will need to decide if you want to stop with an MA degree, or go all the way to the PhD. A few things to consider.
- An MA degree can generally be earned in 2 years full-time, and a PhD can take from 4-6 years or longer.
- MA programs are generally easier to get into than PhD programs.
- The major residential PhD programs will typically offer financial support in the form of research or teaching assistantships and tuition waivers. MA programs generally do not.
- If you want to become a professor, you will need a PhD.
- PhD salaries are higher than MA salaries.
- Jobs are plentiful for both degrees.
- You can earn an MA from a master’s program first and then pursue a PhD degree.