Industrial and Organizational Psychology Career Info

Industrial organizational psychology is the study of the psychology of workplaces and organizations. This is an area of psychology which has been gaining great importance in the employment market as workplace dynamics change.

The Work Environment

Industrial psychology involves multiple forms of work environment, and a potentially huge range of study issues. The workplace can be a psychologically complicated, very difficult environment to work with.

Studies may include:

  • Stress issues in the workplace
  • Job satisfaction issues
  • Motivation
  • Career development
  • Staff retention
  • Employment studies

The employment studies area is a good broad based example of how industrial organizational psychology operates. An employer may decide to revamp their recruitment policies, and conduct a study to find out what characteristics they need in their workforce.  

The industrial organizational psychologist conducts a preliminary survey of staff, with emphasis on what makes them happy in the workplace, what motivates them, and how they view issues like job satisfaction. From this study is derived a working picture of the positive elements which attract and retain valuable staff.

This sort of study can also act as a real time survey of staff and working conditions. It's a particularly effective method of oversight for management, especially if significant productivity issues like job dissatisfaction or specific in-house problems are discovered.

Industrial organizational psychology has several useful functions for employers and industry groups. It allows examination of specific industry issues, notably important employment law-related problems like severe stress and other workplace hazards.  

The secondary levels of industrial organizational psychology involve implementation of policies derived from studies, and monitoring their effectiveness. This process is based on criteria for success, measures of productivity, absenteeism, and other "hard data" from the workplace.

Wages: Median wage is $77,010, highly variable depending on type of employment or consultancy.

Hours: May vary depending on nature of studies, contract obligations and commitments. 

The Career Environment

This is an emerging area of psychology in some ways. The findings from these industrial organizational psychology studies and research have naturally flowed on to the clinical psychology field and therapies. The very high incidence of stress disorders in the workplace has made the studies particularly valuable as a working methodology for study and treatment.

Career progression in this area is fundamentally based on degrees of specialization and demand. The global workplace is in some cases a slow learner, not adopting modern methods quickly, but the higher end of the employment market has been using industrial organizational psychology effectively for some time.

This is a professional field in which achievements and expertise are primary drivers. Career advancement may take several forms:

  • Academic research and training positions
  • Business consultancies
  • Development of therapeutic methods
  • Publication of professional materials

The consultancy field is the common business model for industrial organizational psychology firms and practitioners. This is basically contract work, conducted on the lines described above, and tailored to the requirements of the client. In some cases the work may involve general studies of the entire workplace at the request of management, creating a psychological profile for the organization.

Industrial organizational psychology is one of the big humanist breakthrough concepts in the workplace. It's one of the major forces for modernization of the old industrial employment concepts. It's also providing valuable insights into the rise of the New economy workplace which is reinventing the workplace in its modern forms.