What is an Occupational Psychologist?

occupational psychology

Occupational psychologists (often called industrial-organizational psychologist) study humans in work-related settings. They examine the ways people behave as individuals and in group settings, and they use their findings to solve problems for companies. Please note, occupational psychology is also often known as organizational or industrial psychology.

The Work-Life of An Occupational Psychologist

As with any career, no two days are the same for an occupational psychologist. Typically, you will work normal business hours, but that may vary depending on whether you’re working in the office or visiting a client site—and all of this depends on the location of the workplace as well. Some occupational psychologists work as consultants or for management firms and may have multiple clients that require nontraditional hours. Others may be hired by a specific organization to help their employees.

The workload of an occupational psychologist typically includes conducting regular communication, developing trainings, creating presentations, and hiring new employees. You must also stay up-to-date on all of the current research regarding occupational psychology so you can apply it to your work.

How to Become An Occupational Psychologist

Occupational psychology is a rewarding and fulfilling career, but getting there takes considerable time and effort. There are several steps you need to take, including:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree. There are many schools that offer bachelor’s degrees in psychology.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in occupational psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, or a related field. Occupational psychologists with a master’s degree can typically work in entry-level positions, such as an analyst, talent manager, or HR specialist.
  3. Earn a doctorate degree. Occupational psychologists with doctorate degrees usually make more money and hold higher positions than those with just a master’s degree. They work as managers and supervisors, consultants, and researchers. They can also work as professors to train new occupational therapists.

Average Salary and Benefits of Occupational Psychologists

On average, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational psychologists make upwards of $100,000 a year. This pay, however, depends on experience: occupational or organizational psychologists with fewer than ten years of experience typically make between $60,000 and $95,000.

After ten years, occupational psychologists have the potential to make over $100,000 on average, and once they reach 20 years, they can earn around $130,000. Aside from the high salary, other benefits of a career in occupational psychology include:

  • A 14% growth for all psychologists, which is faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Companies and organizations are expected to continue to hire more occupational psychologists to help them become more productive.
  • There are many different careers open to occupational psychologists, such as human resource specialists and talent managers.
  • Because occupational psychologists work with other businesses in every field, they have the ability to apply their psychological work to other areas they may be interested in.

To learn how this compares to other professions, visit our page about salary ranges for various psychology careers.

Is Occupational Psychology Right For You?

There are many factors to consider before pursuing a degree or career in occupational psychology. The schooling and training can be long and expensive, although the salary and job outlook are high. This career is research-heavy, so make sure that you understand the necessary research methods and practices. Occupational psychology also requires a lot of interpersonal skills.

No matter what kind of work you end up doing, choosing a career in occupational psychology will give you exciting and fulfilling opportunities for a lifetime.


  • https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes193032.htm
  • https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
  • http://psychlearningcurve.org/a-day-in-the-life-of-an-i-o-psychologist/
  • https://www.psychologycareercenter.org/industrial-psychologist.html
  • https://www.psychologycareercenter.org/salaries.html
  • https://www.psychologycareercenter.org/schools.html
  • http://www.siop.org/psychatwork.aspx
  • https://www.tuw.edu/content/business/advantages-of-a-masters-degree-in-industrial-organizational-psychology/

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