Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists use theories and principles from psychology to scientifically study working populations and improve the effectiveness of organizations. However, for aspiring I-O psychologists, it may not be clear what path to follow to land their dream job. In this post from APA’s Division 14, or the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology’s (SIOP) Visibility Committee, we point students towards some helpful resources as they start to think about choosing and preparing for a career in I-O!
What jobs can I have as an I-O psychologist?
There are many different (and often ambiguous) job titles held by I-O psychologists who typically work in academia, applied settings (i.e., private industry, consulting firms, or government), or both. They might be professors, research scientists, principle consultants, program leaders, area directors, senior vice presidents, CEOs, and the list goes on! Given the numerous positions an I-O psychologist can take on, it’s often tricky for prospective undergraduates and I-O graduate students to understand what is involved in each type of role. See here for just one example of a typical day in the life of an I-O psychologist working in industry.
Here are some additional useful resources to get you started exploring I-O career paths:
1. Visit the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) to learn more generally about the job of an I-O psychologist, what credentials are needed, potential wages, and growth of the field
2. Investigate more specific I-O career paths and potential job titles on the SIOP website
3. Take a look at current I-O job postings to get a feel for typical job requirements for a given position
4. Watch archived student webinars on this topic featuring current I-O psychologists
5. Visit the American Psychological Association’s “Science in Action” careers page to learn more about I-O and how it’s applied as well as additional resources for students.
How do I get my dream job in I-O psychology?
I-O psychologists tend to have varied life and educational experiences that led them to the field and their particular position. As such, there’s no one right way to prepare for a job in the I-O field, but the more information gathering you can do early on, the better! Below are some tips for how to set yourself up for identifying that dream job and strategies for getting it.
1. Be proactive and talk (honestly) with your advisor about what you want in a career and how you can get there
2. Contact alumni from your program and ask if they would be willing to chat with you about their job
3. Attend academic conferences, like the annual Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology meeting, don’t skip out on networking events, and look for conference sessions targeting students interested in learning more about career options (there’s always a couple!)
4. Don’t miss guest I-O speakers that visit your school and join your local I-O group to connect with professionals in the nearby area
5. Create a good LinkedIn profile where you can connect with individuals in the field and hear about job opportunities
6. Lastly, while it may seem obvious, the most important thing you can do to set yourself up for a future job in I-O is to work hard and build your resume with the skills, experiences, and accomplishments that will make you competitive for the job you really want
Is there anything else I can do? Yes, check out SIOP’s new Conversation Series, starting 7/26!
If you are curious to learn more about what I-O Psychologists really do and how they got their job, SIOP, Division 14 of the American Psychological Association, is launching a live Conversation Series for prospective and current I-Os to meet the minds shaping how we think about work. Join us for a live conference call with Dr. Adam Grant on July 26th at 10:30AM Eastern to kick off the new series. Dr. Grant will be chatting with us (and hopefully you!) about his career path, what he loves about I-O psychology, and some of his recent projects.