Industrial-organizational psychology will be the fastest growing occupation over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics newly released Occupational Outlook Handbook. (www.bls.gov/ooh)
The field will grow by 53 percent, the Labor Department reported, slightly ahead of personal care aides, which will grow by 50 percent but with far higher numbers. That’s because of the rigorous qualifications to be an industrial-organizational psychologist, which requires most members to have doctoral or master’s degrees.
What is industrial-organizational psychology? It is an important contributor to the world of work in that it is the science of the psychology of working and the application of that science to problems of organizational effectiveness and well-being. I-O psychology is unique from clinical psychology which focuses on mental health including the diagnosis and evaluation of mental and emotional disorders. I-O is a completely different field of psychology.
In short I-O psychologists are versatile behavioral scientists specializing in human behavior in the workplace.
“The public is becoming more aware of something those of us in the field have known for a long time and that is I-O psychology is a highly rewarding profession that provides the opportunity to do meaningful work,” said Tammy Allen, president of the 8,000-member Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).
She was not surprised to see that I-O psychology tops the “hot job” list as compiled by Bureau of Labor Standards.
“The BLS report is consistent with data that shows there are an increasing number of applicants to PhD and Master’s programs in I-O psychology. In fact, data from the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org/workforce/publications/11-grad-study/applications.pdf) show that outside of the mental health professions there are more I-O applicants to graduate programs than there are in any other area of psychology,” said Allen, who is a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida.
At USF alone, she noted, applicants to its doctoral program this year jumped to 170 from the normal number in the 130s.
Doug Reynolds, a past president of SIOP and vice president of assessment technology and chief technology officer at Development Dimensions International (DDI) in Bridgeville, PA, noted that the Occupational Outlook Handbook’s listing of I-O psychology as the fastest growing occupation shows that “our members are in high demand. Our conferences seem to have more students each year and, importantly, demand for the services of I-O psychologists has been very strong.
“Businesses and other larger organizations are quickly realizing the competitive advantages that can be gained by managing their talent using practices that have a basis in evidence and science—and that’s at the heart of what I-O psychologists do,” Reynolds added.
The bottom line is that young people going into I-O psychology have a bright future.
Tracy Kantrowitz, vice president of research and development for the consulting firm SHL, agreed.
“Students embarking on a career in psychology quickly realize the vast career opportunities available within I-O Psychology. As indicated by the SIOP careers study of individuals with advanced degrees in I-O Psychology, professionals can hold jobs as diverse as external consultant, chief human resources officer, research scientist, vice president of talent management, or university professor. Diverse career paths combined with a substantial median starting salary for new PhDs ($78,000 as reported in the 2013 SIOP salary survey report) make the field attractive to those charting career options,” she said
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is an international group of nearly 8,000 industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists who study and apply scientific principles concerning workplace productivity, motivation, leadership and engagement. SIOP’s mission is to enhance human well-being and performance in organizational and work settings by promoting the science, practice and teaching of I-O psychology. For more information about SIOP, including a Media Resources service that lists nearly 2,000 experts in more than 100 topic areas, visit www.siop.org.