The Bureau of Labor Statistics also known as the “BLS” has recently ranked organizational psychology the number one fastest growing careers[i]. According to the BLS in 2012 the median annual pay for industrial organizational psychologists was $83,580.00, and rate of increase in employment for the organizational psychology field was at 53%[i]..

Industrial organizational psychologists use psychology principles to solve problems and make improvements in the workplace. They require a minimum education level of a master’s degree, although some hold a Ph.D. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2012, 1,030 industrial organizational psychologists were employed nationwide, earning a mean hourly wage of $47.50, which translates to a mean yearly wage of $98,800. The bottom 10% earn a mean hourly wage of $24.35 ($48,780 annually), while the top 10% earn a mean of $80.78 ($168,020 annually)[i].

Several trends emerge regarding industrial organizational psychologysalary and employment. The vast majority of organizational psychologists are employed in the “management, scientific and technical consulting services” sector. These are also the top paying industries for this occupation. The highest level of employment out of all US states for organizational psychologists is Massachusetts, while IO psychologists in Virginia are in the top-paying state[i].

Industrial Organizational Psychology Salary by Industry

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides five industry designations in which organizational psychologists are employed:

  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services
  • Scientific research and development services
  • Offices of other health practitioners
  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • State government

As mentioned earlier, on average, organizational psychologists see the highest wages in the management, scientific and technical consulting services. Here, the hourly mean wage is $60.57, or $125,980 per year. Those employed with scientific research and development services earn an hourly mean wage of $51.85, or $107,850 per year. Those situated within offices of other health practitioners earn an hourly mean of $49.71, or $103,400 per year. Elementary and secondary schools pay their organizational psychologists an hourly mean wage of $36.37, or $75,650 per year, while the state government pays the least of all five industries, at a mean of $32.42 per hour, or $67,440 per year[i].

Organizational Psychology Industry of Employment Mean Annual Wage
Management of Scientific and Technical Consulting Services $125,980
Management of Scientific and Technical Consulting Services $107,850
Offices of Healthcare Practitioners $103,400
Elementary and Secondary Schools $75,650

Source: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193032.htm

IO Psychology Salary by Degree Type

An industrial organizational psychologist must hold, at minimum, a master’s degree. Some industrial organizational psychology jobs, such as academic positions at the university level, require a Ph.D. in organizational psychology. Individuals who are interested in this field but who are not able or willing to pursue graduate work can consider finding employment in human resources departments, where their job responsibilities might have some overlap to those performed by organizational psychologists.

According to a survey from Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology that collected data from 2009, organizational psychology master’s degree graduates had a mean starting salary of $56,794 and a median starting salary of $55,000. Organizational psychology doctoral graduates had a mean starting salary of $81,965 and a median of $75,000. As compared to the prior year, this represented no change in median, but a 6% increase in mean salary for doctoral graduates, and a 14.4% decrease in mean salary for master’s graduates[ii].

Requirements to Become an Industrial Organizational Psychologist

The ability to help others enjoy the best possible circumstances in their professional careers may lead to a sense of professional fulfillment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals interested in becoming I/O psychologists must obtain either a master’s degree or a doctorate degree in industrial organizational psychology, counseling, psychology, organizational development or another related field.

Some states also have licensing and certification requirements that I/O psychologists must abide by. Those wishing to pursue careers as practicing I/O’s will have to check the requirements of their specific state of residence or employment to ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations.

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Sources: [i] bls.gov/oes/current/oes193032 | [ii]  siop.org/2009SIOPIncomeSurvey.pdf