I-O Psychology or HR – Which Career is Right for You?

Learn more about the similarities and differences between industrial-organizational psychology, human resources, and organizational development to figure out which career – and educational path – is right for you.

If you’re interested in a job where you can help people and make a difference in the workplace, then pursuing a career in human resources might seem like a logical path – but it’s not the only option. Depending on your goal, pursuing your master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational (IO) Psychology may better position you to make the kind of impact you’ve always imagined.

The Role of HR

Human resources professionals have responsibilities like recruiting and interviewing candidates for job openings, putting together compensation and benefit packages, and providing organizational training. What you may not realize is that, in general, HR looks out for the best interests of an organization. That includes everything from protecting the company from legal issues by developing and enforcing policies and procedures to managing timekeeping and payroll to handling employee discipline and termination. If a career in HR is your goal, you can qualify for a job after earning a bachelor’s degree, but it’s probable that you’ll eventually need to get an MBA in order to advance your career .

How I-O Psychologists Fit in the Workplace

In contrast, the field of Industrial-Organizational Psychology focuses on employees and how to improve their lives and well-being. Essentially, an IO psychologist applies the principles of psychology to the workplace, using intensive data and research to figure out how help employees feel more satisfied, motivated, and engaged at work. That includes assessing, measuring, and evaluating human behavior using hard data – which helps to avoid bias – to solve problems related to recruiting, productivity, general employee health and wellness, and other workplace concerns.

The field of Organizational Development places a similar emphasis on qualitative data, but instead of focusing on employees, it focuses more heavily on change management and using strategic interventions to drive organizational effectiveness. An organizational development specialist or organizational change management specialist often starts by using data and focus groups to diagnose organizational problems and then creates written or oral presentations to propose solutions and data-driven strategies. To become an IO psychologist or an organizational development specialist, you’ll need to build on a bachelor’s degree with a master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.

While human resources, industrial-organizational psychology, and organizational development are all related, they each serve distinctive functions. No matter which of these rewarding career paths you choose, you’re likely to be well-paid and enjoy a decent level of job security over the next 10 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources managers earn an average annual salary of $121,000, industrial-organizational psychologists can expect to make an average of $112,000 each year, and the average salary for an organizational development specialist is around $116,000 annually. All three industries are expected to grow by 5-7%, which is slightly faster than average, over the next 10 years.

No matter which option you choose, Touro can prepare you to achieve your goals and make a positive impact in the workplace in the way you always dreamed.

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