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I-O is On Top!


by Clif Boutelle, SIOP Public Relations

Industrial-Organizational Psychology Tops List of Fastest Growing Occupations

Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology will be the fastest growing occupation over the next decade, according to a recently released report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The field will grow by 53% between 2012 and 2022, the Labor Department reported, slightly ahead of personal care aides, which will grow by 50% but with far higher numbers. Despite this growth, I-O will remain a relatively small field because of the rigorous qualifications to become an industrial-organizational psychologist, which require professionals to obtain doctoral or master’s degrees.

“The public is becoming more aware of something those of us in the field have known for a long time, and that is I-O psychology is a highly rewarding profession that provides the opportunity to do meaningful work,” said Tammy Allen, SIOP president.

She was not surprised to see that I-O psychology tops the “hot job” list as compiled by Bureau of Labor Standards.

“The BLS report is consistent with data that shows there are an increasing number of applicants to PhD and master’s programs in I-O psychology.  In fact, data from the American Psychological Association show that outside of the mental health professions there are more I-O applicants to graduate programs than there are in any other area of psychology,” said Allen, who is a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida.

At USF alone, she noted, applicants to its doctoral program this year jumped to 170 from the average number in the 130s.

Doug Reynolds, a past president of SIOP and vice president of assessment technology and chief technology officer at Development Dimensions International (DDI) in Bridgeville, PA, noted that the Occupational Outlook Handbook’s listing of I-O psychology as the fastest growing occupation shows that “our members are in high demand.”

SIOP conferences seem to have more students each year, and importantly, demand for the services of I-O psychologists has been very strong, he explained.

“Businesses and other larger organizations are quickly realizing the competitive advantages that can be gained by managing their talent using practices that have a basis in evidence and science—and that’s at the heart of what I-O psychologists do,” Reynolds added.

The bottom line is that young people going into I-O psychology have a bright future, he said. Tracy Kantrowitz, vice president of research and development for the consulting firm CEB agreed.

“Students embarking on a career in psychology quickly realize the vast career opportunities available within I-O psychology,” she said. “As indicated by the SIOP careers study of individuals with advanced degrees in I-O psychology, professionals can hold jobs as diverse as external consultant, chief human resources officer, research scientist, vice president of talent management, or university professor. Diverse career paths combined with a substantial median starting salary for new PhDs ($78,000 as reported in the 2012 SIOP salary survey report) make the field attractive to those charting career options.”