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13 Pros and Cons of Being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist


Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Are you a problem solver, somebody who has always been good at solving conflicts and just making workflow run better? Do you wish you could earn a living doing this? Then maybe you should explore the career of an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist? Let me guess, you have no idea what the pros and cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist are? Well, rest assured, I am going to help you out with that. Below you will find the top 13 pros and cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist. These top 13 pros and cons will help you decide if you should pursue this career.


What is an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist?


An Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is a professional who uses psychological principles and known research methods to improve the quality of life within the workplace environment. As an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, you will accomplish the task of solving problems that lead to poor quality of life in the workplace once you have observed the current culture, personality, and morale of a workplace. The main focus of an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is to increase productivity and maximize the performance of a workplace. As an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, you may find yourself working in hospitals, clinics, or schools. Other areas that will require your expertise are labor unions, government agencies, recruitment centers, human resources, private practices, and small and large corporations to name a few.


TOP CONS OF BEING AN INDUSTRIAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST

(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.)

1. You will need to earn your Bachelor’s degree.

Weighing the pros and cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist needs to start with evaluating the lengthy educational requirements for this career. If you plan on pursuing a career as an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, the first step will be to obtain a Bachelor's degree from an accredited program. Majoring in psychology is not mandatory to continue your education, but it is recommended. If you choose another major besides psychology, you must ensure that you have successfully completed courses such as psychological principles, social psychology, statistics, and research methodology. You will need to have the knowledge you gain in these courses in order to excel in your career as an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.

2. You may need to take the GRE.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an exam designed to test the critical areas of basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, data analysis, and college-level vocabulary. It will also measure your ability to analyze and evaluate written material, think critically, and solve problems. One of the disadvantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is that many I/O psychology graduate programs require a GRE in order to screen who will be successful in their graduate programs and in their career. Let’s just hope you do well on this test the first time.

3. You will need to earn a Master's degree.

If you are still interested in pursuing a career as an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, then a master's degree in I/O psychology would be your next stop after you take the GRE. A master's degree is the minimum requirement for working in the field of industrial and organizational psychology. Some of the courses you will be taking in your Master’s are the psychology of leadership, organizational structuring, and other courses that teach students how to apply the necessary frameworks to the workplace. It looks like you have a lot of work ahead of you.

4. You should strongly consider earning a Ph.D.

Although a Ph.D. is not required in the field of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, you may not be able to find many jobs with a master's degree. Not being able to find a master's level education job is definitely one of the cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist. Now, if you plan on working in the clinical setting, a Ph.D. in I/O psychology will be required. The coursework you are expected to complete in a Ph.D. program will include theories and principles based on scientific research. A doctorate takes about three to five years to complete and will also include the successful completion of a dissertation.

5. You may need to complete a dissertation.

I know I mentioned a dissertation to you in the prior section, so let’s dive a little deeper into this masterpiece that you will be expected to complete. One of the top disadvantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is that some Ph.D. programs will require that you successfully complete and defend a dissertation before graduating. Not all candidates for a Ph.D. will successfully defend their dissertation the first time. In that case, it will be back to the drawing board and try again. Now, I am not talking about an essay that you have to write. A dissertation is filled with chapters of your own analyzed research. It is a tremendous amount of work.

6. You may need to complete an unpaid internship.

Not all educational institutions or jobs will require that you complete an internship but, gaining hands-on experience will help you get a leg up. There is, however, one caveat to pursuing an internship. If you plan to work in the clinical setting or if you use the term “Psychologist” in your job title, you will need to gain a license. One of the prerequisites to becoming eligible to take a licensing exam is that you must have 1-2 years of supervised postgraduate experience or an internship. Keep in mind that many of the internships offered are unpaid.

7. You will need a license to practice.

If you plan on working in the clinical setting or in a job where you are referred to as a psychologist, you will need to obtain a license. The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is an exam created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and will be required to practice. To be eligible to sit for this exam, you must successfully complete an APA-accredited master's or doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program and have 1-2 years of postgraduate experience. Some boards will also require that you pass a state jurisprudence exam. Your license must typically be renewed every 2-3 years.

8. I’m sure you will want to prove your competence through certification

Even though you have passed the EPPP exam and now hold a license to practice psychology in the clinical setting and call yourself a psychologist, you will still need certification in order to prove your competency. Having to take another exam is one of the biggest disadvantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist. Certification is used for specialization in the field. Certification can be obtained through The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP) — a member board of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) once you have met their eligibility criteria.

8. Have you figured out how you are going to pay for all this schooling?

If your ultimate goal is to pursue this career, one of the main components you will need to assess when weighing the pros and cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is to determine if the financial implications of pursuing this career are worth it. You are looking at around 7-11 years of education that must be paid for before you can even start the career portion of this journey. That is a long time and a lot of school. Your education will not be free, so how do you plan on paying for this? Unless you have a stash of funds somewhere, you may need to look into taking out loans. Although taking out loans seems like a good temporary solution to pay for your education, you must remember that these loans need to be paid back with interest. Taking out loans to pay for your education can land you in some pretty deep debt that may be difficult to get out of.

9. Your job will be time-consuming

When you are coming into the workplace to assess the employees and workflow to solve problems, you will be dedicating a tremendous amount of time to researching and designing strategies to improve the workplace. Remember, not every job you have will be the same cookie-cutter experience. Every place and every person you encounter will be different, and interactions will be different. You will just need to figure out the puzzle pieces, which could take a tremendous amount of your time.

10. You will experience some resistance to change

Designing development programs, training, and allocation of roles may be met with resistance from current employees. You may find that you can encounter people who feel that nothing is wrong with the work environment and may be difficult for you to work with. Keep in mind when you are reorganizing the way an institution runs, you may not be everybody’s favorite person. I hope you have thick skin.

11. You can become burned out

One of the disadvantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is that your job can lead to some pretty tedious work. This, coupled with meeting resistance from those who feel that change in the workplace is unnecessary, can become overwhelming and frustrating. Over time this can wear you down, and you can become burned out and want to throw in the towel. Burnout in this field can lead to you wanting to leave the career altogether. Wow, think of all the time, money, and energy that you put into building it has gone to waste.

12. I hope you are a people person

If you plan on pursuing this career, you will be interfacing with many people from all walks of life every day. All of these different people will all have different personalities. If you are not a people person and you cannot work with people who may be difficult at times, then this is probably not the career for you. Remember, one of the workplace issues you will be dealing with is conflict in the workplace.

13. You will be placed under a lot of pressure

As an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, you may be charged with designing, administering, and evaluating tools in order to identify candidates that would make good employees for a particular job. Well, what if you were wrong. This could undermine your expertise and may make people question other decisions you have made. A lot will rest on your shoulders in this career.


TOP PROS OF BEING AN INDUSTRIAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST

(The following are the top 13 advantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.)

1. You will have a great earning potential

As an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, you can expect to have a pretty lucrative income. Earning an above-average salary is one of the biggest advantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist. The average median national annual salary for an industrial-organizational psychologist is $96,270. Your actual salary may vary significantly based on your specialization within the field, your location, years of experience that you have, and an array of other factors. You do have quite a robust earning potential as well. If you are in the top 10% of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists, you could possibly earn upwards of $192,800. Well, that is not too shabby.

2. You can find a good amount of financial assistance to help pay for school.

One of the important things that you will have to consider while analyzing the pros and cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is if the cost of your education in the beginning is worth the paycheck you will be making in the end. If you plan on becoming an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, but you have no idea how to pay for it, well, you are in luck. You will be able to find that the world of psychology has quite a few financial aid resources to help you pursue your dream. Some of these include: SIOP Foundation, Society of Consulting Psychology Small Grant Competition, APA Dissertation Research Award, Leslie W. Joyce and Paul W. Thayer Graduate Fellowship in I-O Psychology, and the Bethesda Lutheran Communities Scholarship for College Students. These financial aid options are in addition to any government funding you could possibly receive like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

3. Your employment outlook is moving in a positive direction.

One of the advantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is that this field is projected to have a pretty positive job outlook. This field’s job outlook is projected to grow by 12.9% through the year 2028. This job growth is due to company leaders understanding the benefits of an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist in their company. The services you provide to a company will help increase employee retention, productivity, and engagement rates.

4. You can work in a variety of settings.

When you decide to embark on the journey to becoming an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, you can choose to work in various settings. Having a variety of settings that you can work in is one of the pros of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist. Some of these settings that you can choose to work in are hospitals, clinics, or schools. You can also find Industrial and Organizational Psychologists working in labor unions, government agencies, recruitment centers, human resources, private practices, and small and large corporations. If one does not seem like a good fit for you, then there are others to try.

5. You could be your own boss.

If you feel that you are better suited to work for yourself and not somebody else, you are in luck. As an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, you could start your own private practice. Having your own private practice means that you basically run the show. You can dictate how your time is spent and organize your every day as you see fit. The opportunity to be your own boss to me definitely sounds like one of the huge pros of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.

6. You could work from home.

In this day and age, working from home or remote is becoming extremely popular. Your services as an industrial and organizational is to help people transition to a different type of work environment. One of the advantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is that you can also conduct your work from the comfort of your own office or living room. You will now be observing workflow and interactions not in person but via the computer.

7. You can have a flexible schedule.

Depending on where you choose to work, you have the potential to have a very flexible schedule. You can plan your tasks and clients around what obligations you have in your personal life. Having such a flexible work schedule can really give you such an outstanding work-life balance.

8. You will not experience boredom

When you work in the world of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, you will find that your every day will be different. This is great news for somebody who is easily bored. You will also be interacting with different people each day who have various reasons for seeking your expertise. Not having to complete the same mundane tasks every day is one of the top pros of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.

9. You will be improving people’s lives

At the end of the day, all of the tasks you perform during the day improve people’s lives. Think about it, if you are working on the improvement of the workflow, and culture of an organization, you are improving the lives of many employees. When you are helping employees work out a conflict, you are making an enjoyable work environment. No matter how you look at it, your job is centered around improvement that will eventually make the employees' lives where you work better.

10. You will not be micromanaged

The field of Industrial and organizational psychology is the type of work where you will not be micromanaged as you would be in other careers. You will have a significant amount of autonomy in how you approach a work environment and the dilemmas and issues that will present themselves to you. You will also find that you will have autonomy in your assessment and evaluation of new potential employees. Your recommendations will hold a great deal of weight when it comes to the work environment and how it functions.

11. You could dabble in the world of academia

The world of academia may also be a place that you may see yourself. I mean, who is going to teach the next generation of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists. It could be you. The world of academia has a lot of perks and working in academia is one of the pros of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist. For example, one of the biggest perks is that you will work an academic calendar. What that means for you is you will not have to work any weekend or holidays, and you will get off all of the academic breaks such as winter break and summer break. Did I also mention that you will be paid during these academic breaks.

12. You will have no shortage of job opportunities

The job market for the field of Industrial and organizational psychology is filled with jobs that are waiting to be filled, maybe by you. One of the advantages of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist is that you can be quite selective when applying to jobs so you can find the best fit for your life. Who knows, you may even find your dream job, the one that you will stay at until you retire.

13. You can be incredibly proud of your accomplishments

A career as an industrial and organizational psychologist is definitely something that you can be proud of. It took an extremely long educational path to get where you are and that in itself is an accomplishment that many can say they have even attempted to tackle. You have also completed your licensure and certification. Not every job has these requirements, so the fact that you have passed both the licensing exam and certification exam, well, bravo.


The Bottom Line


So, what are the pros and cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist? I bet now you are definitely able to answer that question after reading this informative article. I know the top 13 pros and cons of being an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist have given you a lot to think about. Your job now is to assess all the information I have given you and determine if the pros will outweigh the cons or will the cons just be too much to overcome. Remember ultimately this will be your decision because it will affect your life and the lives of those around you.


Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.