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6 reasons industrial and organizational psychology makes sense

In today's world of psychology professionals, specialization is key—the more specialized your training, the better your opportunities. However, specialization is about more than just making money and finding the perfect job.

Specialized training allows you to focus your work in an area that most interests you. That is why many students consider industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology when choosing a degree program.

Psychology is all about studying human behavior. I/O psychology is about understanding behavior in the workplace. Consider six reasons this specialized training is the right choice for you.

Join the field of industrial and organizational psychology with a degree from Central Michigan University. 

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What is industrial/organizational psychology?

Industrial/organizational psychology is a subfield of mental health care that applies psychological principles to workplace issues.  Industrial psychology refers to analyzing human behavior in the workforce.  Organizational psychology focuses on behavior as part of an organization. The combination of these two specialties has applications in every sector because it involves employees and the workplace.

I/O psychologists work with companies to help them resolve workplace problems, hire efficiently, and set protocols that benefit their employees. They play an intricate role in activities such as:

  • Labor disputes.
  • Hiring practices.
  • Employee training.
  • Wellness programs.
  • Consumer research.
  • Marketing.
  • Team building.
  • Brand building.

The list continues because the applications for this specialty are so broad. For example, I/O psychologists can work for corporations as critical members of their human resource leadership. They can also freelance to help corporations deal with specific issues, such as labor disputes. An industrial-organizational psychologist might even have a private practice and see patients referred by employers because they have behavioral problems.

How do I become an industrial-organizational psychologist?

Becoming an I/O psychologist starts with earning a bachelor's degree in psychology. Once you have your undergraduate degree, it is time to consider a master's program specializing in industrial-organizational psychology.

A bachelor's degree in psychology gives you the core knowledge to work in the field. A master's degree, such as a  master's degree in I/O psychology, gives you the specialized training necessary to work in this role.  However, the more education you have, the better the opportunities, so earning your Ph.D. in I/O psychology sets you up to lead in the field.


After completing a graduate degree, you will need to do an internship, giving you practical experience as an I/O psychologist. It is also a chance to narrow your specialization down even further. For example, you might decide to work in law enforcement or specialize in labor relations.


Some states will require you to get a license to work in the field. The prerequisites will vary from place to place. I/O psychologists can work in more than one state or even in another state for a set time frame without getting an additional license.

Getting approval to work in another state for an extended period from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology is possible. It is essential that you understand the laws in your area, however.

Work in the field

Getting an entry-level position in the field will give you the experience you need to advance your career. Experience in the field will likely be necessary to obtain board certification.

Board certification

I/O psychology professionals can also get a board certification from the American Board of Organization and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP). You will complete a skills assessment and must have a doctorate from an American Psychology Association-accredited program to get a certification.

Board certification is not a requirement, but it will open more doors for you. It is also necessary if you want a private practice in some states.

Reasons to choose a degree in industrial-organizational psychology

If working in industrial-organizational psychology sounds interesting, but you are still unsure, let us give you six reasons to choose this degree program.

1. Job security

As long as people work for companies, there will be a need for I/O psychologists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  (BLS) shows that almost every sector employs these professionals. For example, they serve as teachers, work in public school systems, have jobs in corporations and law enforcement, and even work in healthcare.

2. Competitive salary

I/O psychologists play a significant role in most industries, and the salaries reflect that need. Even without a doctorate, you can expect compensation equal to your education level and training. Since this is a unique specialization, your salary will reflect that.

3. Opportunity to impact change

The current diverse landscape throughout the world is also impacting the workplace. As a result, many companies are looking for a well-trained hand to bring stability and to help people embrace others’ cultures.

Today's business leaders recognize not only the need for diversity and change but the benefits of it. Moreover, they understand that focusing on issues affecting all workers is critical. The workplace is changing from the pandemic to the great resignation, and I/O professionals must steady the wheel.

4. Travel opportunities

Many I/O psychologists work for or run their own consulting firms. That is an excellent opportunity to see the world. The flexibility of this career path means you can choose a role that allows you to travel or stick with one that doesn't require it. It's up to you.

5. A variety of job tasks

Traditional psychologists see patients, perform therapy, and get up the next day and do it all over again. However, specializing in industrial and organizational psychology  allows you to add diversity to your job. I/O psychologists have their fingers in a lot of pots, and that variety makes the job more enjoyable.

An I/O specialist might take part in:

  • The hiring process – Hiring new staff, training others to do it, or providing testing for potential candidates.
  • HR – Working as a therapist, advisor, or department manager in human resources.
  • Policy development – Creating or consulting on policy issues that support all employees while protecting the business at the same time
  • Professional development – Helping organizations identify employees with promising futures in the company
  • Optimization – Designing workplace activities and procedures that promote productivity

6. Flexibility

Industrial-organizational psychology is a career choice that offers you flexibility in almost every regard. You have your choice of sector, job role, location, and job tasks. You can travel or stay close to home. You can work as part of a team or run your own consulting firm.

If you want choices and are interested in human behavior and organizational development, this might be the job for you. If you think so, too, your next goal is to find a program to help you get there.

Central Michigan University offers a comprehensive MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. You can complete the master's program in as little as two years. Both programs are offered on-campus or online.

The students in these graduate programs can tailor their studies to meet their interests and career goals. As a result, they graduate with the tools they need to make a difference in the world and the lives of working people.

The course of study includes mental health, workplace safety, physical health, quality of life, and emotional labor. In addition, you will learn to improve training processes, help motivate workers, and enhance a business's career development and leadership programs.



Find out about the I/O psychology graduate programs at Central Michigan University by  visiting our website today and learning more about our master's degree training program  in this innovative field.

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: General Education
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