Organizational psychology, often referred to as industrial/organizational psychology, is a relatively new but rapidly growing field. Organizational psychologists specialize in employees’ behavior in the work place.
Psychologists in this field promote effective hiring, evaluation and advancement techniques as well as improve group dynamics and develop effective company policies.
Some human resource jobs can be obtained with a bachelor’s in organizational psychology, though more specialized positions in organizational psychology require a master’s or doctorate degree. A bachelor’s degree in general psychology or industrial / organizational psychology provide a good foundation for master’s and doctorate programs in the field. A master’s in organizational psychology takes approximately two years to complete. Doctorate programs are a four to five year commitment.
Organizational psychologists seek to improve productivity in the workplace and increase employees’ job satisfaction. They work alongside administration and management to resolve a variety of employee issues and assist in organizational development. Courses and fieldwork in organizational psychology train graduates in the psychology of group behavior as well as effective evaluation techniques and organizational management.
Common tasks of an organizational psychologist include:
Organizational psychologists can work in about any type of corporation, business or organization. Some work as HR generalists or specialists, others take temporary consulting positions to solve more short-term issues. Organizational psychologists can also work in research positions and as teachers in higher education.
Salaries for organizational psychologists are highest for those with advanced degrees. According to a 2007 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), the overall median 12-month salary for doctoral-level organizational psychologists was $122,000. Organizational psychologists in management positions at corporations such as market research firms obtained a median salary of $120,500 for an 11- to 12-month position.
Master’s level organizational psychologists in positions with business/industry corporations and consulting firms received a median salary of $75,000. Unlike some subfields in psychology, those with master’s degrees in organizational psychology will not have to compete as strongly with doctorate level psychologists in their field for positions.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the job outlook for organizational psychologists is better than average. The number of positions for organizational psychologists is expected to rise as businesses seek to improve employee productivity and curb turnover rates.