Industrial-organizational psychology focuses on the study and application of principles of psychology to workplaces. Typical questions addressed by an industrial-organizational psychologist include: effective ways of recruiting employees; reliability of letters of recommendation in assessing a candidate; use of additional recreational breaks to improve efficiency and reduce exhaustion and work-related stress; ways of training managers to locate address potential employee conflicts; and ways of motivating employees by means other than monetary compensation.
An industrial-psychologist should also be prepared to create training programs and criteria, research efficiency of workplace systems, determine better selection and recruiting procedures, advise management teams on the best use of direct reports, put together studies to understand the usefulness of office initiatives, and observe workers to understand the functions and needs of each job.
Those wishing to become industrial-organizational psychologists can choose to major in any subject. However, by opting for courses in psychology and management, you will benefit. Industrial-organizational psychologists differ in the graduate degrees they have studied. While some opt for a master’s, and take between one and two years to obtain it, others work for a Doctor of Philosophy in psychology (Ph.D.) degree or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree, and put in about five years of study. Most doctoral programs insist on Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores; many master’s courses do not. To obtain a government license as an "industrial-organizational psychologist" you need a doctoral degree.
While some states insist that industrial-organizational psychologists be licensed others waive this requirement. For instance, a survey in 2006 by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology of its members showed that only 12 percent of respondents had licenses.
As an industrial-organizational psychologist you will be working in government agencies, corporations, or as a consultant. You will be involved in all steps of the organization-- recruiting, selecting, training, managing, and terminating.
This field too has been impacted by technology changes and globalization. Many industrial-organizational psychologists are trying to develop functional computer-based modules to assess skills and offer training. They are also studying the manner in which industrial-organizational psychology varies with culture. This field has great relevance today because companies have to cater to global markets.
In the increasingly more competitive world, every company wants to increase productivity and profits. One way of achieving this can be by promoting job satisfaction and ensuring a sense of well-being among employees. Industrial psychologists (also called industrial-organizational psychologists) aim to improving the efficiency of the workplace and understand the behavior of employees.
Many schools now offer bachelor’s and master’s degree courses in industrial psychology. To qualify as an industrial psychologist, one needs at least a post-graduate degree. It takes about two years to obtain a master’s degree in either industrial psychology or an associated topic such as organizational development or human resources. After obtaining this degree you can call yourself a qualified industrial psychologist. It takes between five and seven years to obtain a doctoral degree after your basic bachelor’s degree.
The role of an industrial psychologist in the workplace is to facilitate increase in satisfaction, a sense of well-being, and productivity. Most industrial psychologists help evaluate worker behavior and experiences in organizations, and then they research ways to make worker experiences pleasanter. The areas of research include studying individual work habits as well as analyzing an entire organization.
Yet another function of industrial psychologists is to aid in the development of flexible work processes even as productivity and worker well-being are maintained. An industrial psychology consultant conducts a thorough study the organization and helps the management produce training modules as well as programs that motivate employees. Other issues addressed could include discrimination and diversity.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects demand for industrial psychologists to grow in the near term as companies try to improve the morale of workers to increase efficiency. On the negative side, the number of job openings will be lower than the number of qualified industrial psychologists. There will be fewer opportunities for those with only a master’s degree. However, by obtaining a doctoral degree in this field you can qualify for more jobs, especially those with a greater remuneration.
Consulting firms and small businesses too employ industrial psychologists as human resource specialists.