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Learning Center Experience
By Robert Palmer, Faculty, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
There are many variables that
determine how well an organization or company operates. Effective communication
and conflict resolution, process evaluation, professional competence, and
effective management are examples of the components necessary for businesses to
Often, shortcomings in any of these
areas can be traced back to the ways employees are selected and trained, as
well as how they share information or interact. Industrial/organizational (I/O)
psychologists use their knowledge of human behavior to address these
They use quantitative research and
evaluation methods to apply best practices within a company and teach people
how to work better. Their research may take the form of an observation, where
they document how an employee or team performs in their work environment, or a
survey designed to identify issues affecting workplace behavior. This research
might be aimed at increasing employee productivity, developing screening
procedures for new applicants, increasing overall workplace quality, or getting
to the root of a work-related issue that is interfering with performance.
I/O psychologists apply their
scientific research in all types of organizational and workplace settings, such
as manufacturing, commercial enterprises, labor unions, and health care
facilities. The focus of their research ranges from applicant and employee
testing and assessment to leadership development, staffing, management, teams,
compensation, workplace safety, diversity, and work-life balance.
Other I/O psychologists work in
research or hold academic positions in colleges and universities. In addition,
they are qualified as trainers, facilitators, assessors, coaches, and
consultants. I/O psychologists may also work directly in an organization’s
human resources department, or they may act as independent consultants, called
into an organization to solve a particular problem.
The career path to becoming an I/O
psychologist begins with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Opportunities with
a bachelor’s degree alone aren’t unheard of, but they are sparse. Most students
interested in I/O psychology go on to earn an advanced degree, although they
may take time off between degrees to work and gain real-world experience.
A person with a master’s degree in
I/O psychology is often able to find an entry-level position to launch a
career. However, those with a doctoral degree will have more employment
opportunities in this field.
According to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, in 2014 the largest area of employment for I/O
psychologists was in management, scientific, and technical consulting services.
This was followed by state government. Other areas included scientific research
and development services, offices of health practitioners, and educational
Robert Palmer is a faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
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* Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.
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