How Much Do IO Industrial-Organizational Psychologists Make?

From the outside, many people may assume the most important factor in a successful company is profitability. Profitability allows for business growth and more the hiring of more workers to do more. But a company’s profitability is actually dependent on other things, too:

  • A good product or service
  • Work teams who communicate well
  • Motivated employees who are trained well
  • The ability of the company to identify and fix workplace problems

The last item is where the industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologist comes into the picture. I/O psychology is studying human behavior on the job. This branch of psychology looks at assessing the dynamics of individuals, groups, and organizations. That research is used to pinpoint solutions to workplace problems that can enhance the well-being and performance of employees and the company. (

I/O psychologists may hold either a master’s or doctoral degree. They look at these types of questions in the workplace:

  • How are work and personnel decisions made?
  • How effective are employees communicating with each other?
  • How well do team members collaborate and interact?

Knowing the answers to such vital business questions and others help the owners of the company to assess business systems and make changes to improve company and employee performance.

EXPERT VOICE: Is an industrial psychology career worth it? Yes, you can absolutely be very successful with a Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. I have been working in this field now, successfully, (based on salary alone)for over 30 years. So many options and career choices! Douglas BushMA Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Florida State University (1983)

With your advanced degree in industrial-organizational psychology, you may work on these human and organizational problems:

  • Identify the training and development needs of employees
  • Optimize the quality of work-life
  • Formulate and implement employee training programs; evaluate their effectiveness
  • Coach workers and company leaders
  • Develop criteria to gauge the performance of workers
  • Assess the preferences of consumers

To be employed in this psychology specialty, you need to earn a master’s or doctoral degree. This takes years of time and study. So learning how much an I/O psychologist can earn is an important factor in your educational planning.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Salary Information

There are many excellent and accurate sources of wage information for I/O and other types of psychologists.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports salary data for hundreds of professions in the US. BLS states the median salary for all psychologists in 2018 was $79,010, with the top 10% earning $129,250. ( BLS also states that all other types of psychologists earn $100,770 per year. For industrial-organizational psychologists, the median salary reported is $97,200.

BLS reports these psychologist salaries by industry:

  • Government: $96,400
  • Hospitals: $86,500
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $79,100
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $75,800

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports the median salary for all psychologists as of 2015 was $85,000, with 57% of practicing psychologists earning between $60,000 and $120,000 per year. Twenty-two percent earned above $120,000 per year. (

APA notes that I/O psychologists are at the top of the wage scale, with a median salary of $125,000 per year. reports the average salary for an industrial-organizational psychologist is $72,600 per year, with a range between $41,000 and $123,000. Payscale also reports the average salary for organizational psychologists is $121,300. (

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Below are average salaries reported to Payscale for I/O psychologists for different cities:

  • Los Angeles: $78,445
  • Chicago: $63,500
  • Dallas: $93,478
  • Washington DC: $85,000
  • Orlando: $63,800
  • New York City: $79,665 also reports the following salary premiums above $72,600 by city:

  • Seattle: +26%
  • Dallas: +20%
  • Washington DC: +19%
  • Los Angeles: +6%
  • New York City: +2%
  • Houston: +1%

According to this website, the average salary for industrial-organizational psychologists is $116,175 per year with a range between $26,000 and $152,500. Also, the site states the majority of these psychologists earn between $104,000 and $141,000. (

Average I/O Psychologist Salary by State

The following table lists the average salary by state for a I/O Psychologist according to

StateHourly WageAnnual Salary
New York$61.42$127,753
New Hampshire$59.21$123,158
North Dakota$56.00$116,471
Rhode Island$55.91$116,286
South Dakota$53.58$111,437
New Jersey$53.46$111,195
West Virginia$53.39$111,059
South Carolina$52.86$109,950
New Mexico$49.51$102,974
North Carolina$45.05$93,694 June, 2020

Job Outlook for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that jobs for all psychologists will grow by 14% through 2028, which is much faster than average. Employment of counseling, clinical and school psychologists will grow because of higher demand for psychological services in hospitals, mental health facilities and schools. (

EXPERT VOICE: Is an industrial psychology career worth it? Yes, an MS in I/O Psych is very valuable to employers and shows the person has not only a solid understanding of the HR standards and business ethics but also a desire for a deeper understanding of why employees do what they do. I found the degree program much more interesting than just a straight HR degree. Business can be a bit dry and boring to study for some but adding the psychology component makes it more fun for those of us who enjoy the study of human behavior. I highly recommend this program for one seeking employment in HR or a promotion to management for current HR practitioners. Kelly DeMS Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Grand Canyon University (2012)

BLS also states that I/O psychologists will be in more demand in the next decade to increase employee productivity and employee retention rates in a stronger economy. I/O psychologists will help organizations deal better with anti-discrimination and diversity policies. Organizations also will use these psychologists to design surveys, analyze and research to devise new tools for marketing evaluation and statistical analysis. (

The Occupational Outlook Handbook at BLS also states the I/O field will be one of the fastest-growing in the next 10 years. BLS data suggests this profession will grow by 50% in the next decade. Businesses are understanding there are competitive advantages to be had by managing employees with psychological principles and analysis.

More students are turning to I/O psychology because of the uniqueness of the work and the relatively high salary. It is also possible for some in the field to work and earn a good salary with only a master’s degree; most other fields of psychology require a Ph.D. to work in private practice.

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There are strong job growth and salary potential for professionals in industrial-organizational psychology. Earning your master’s or doctorate in I/O psychology can likely ensure job options and salaries for years to come.

SEE ALSO: How to Become an Industrial Organizational Psychologist

It is worth keeping in mind, however, that while jobs in I/O psychology are growing quickly, it is still a small field. There are only a few thousand I/O psychologists working in the United States today.

But the outlook is bright, and earning your degree in this field can serve as an excellent background for other professions, such as external consultant; chief HR officer; research scientist; VP of talent management, or even college professor.