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How Much Do Occupational Psychologists Make?

Occupational psychology is another term for industrial and organizational psychology (I/O) psychology. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), occupational or I/O psychology involves the scientific study of human behavior in companies and other workplaces. Occupational psychology studies the principles of personal, group, and organizational behavior. The psychology professional then applies that knowledge to various problems in the workplace. (APA.org)

Becoming an occupational psychologist requires a master’s or doctoral degree in industrial-organizational psychology. You will develop a detailed knowledge of organizational behavior, career development, work attitudes, human decision making, and task and job analysis. Also, occupational psychology requires you to understand workplace ethics and statutory and case law related to issues in the workplace.

Some of the skills and procedures you will use as an occupational psychologist include:

  • Be able to identify employee training and development needs
  • Design and optimize work and work-life for all employees in an organization
  • Provider one-on-one coaching to employees
  • Determine what consumer preferences are and the best way to reach them
  • Devise criteria to gauge the performance of organizations and employees

As an occupational psychologist, your focus will be on optimizing human behavior in work environments. Becoming an occupational psychologist requires at least a master’s degree in I/O psychology. You may also need a Ph.D. degree to enter some industries. Before you earn this degree, learn more below about the potential salary of an occupational psychologist.

Occupational Psychologist Salary Information

There are several sources of salary data available for occupational psychologists highlighted below.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the median salary for all psychologists in 2018 was $79,000. The top 10% of psychologists with more experience and an advanced degree earned as much as $129,000 per year. The government data website also states that industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median salary of $97,200. (BLS.gov)

Your salary is affected by the industry in which you work as an occupational psychologist:

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

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports the median salary for training and development specialists. These professionals plan, conduct and administer programs that train employees in many industries. A possible background for this career is a degree in occupational psychology. (BLS.gov)

BLS states the median salary for training and development specialists was $60,800 in 2018. The top 10% earned $102,000. Top paying industries in this field were:

  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $70,800
  • Finance and insurance: $63,300
  • Educational services: $61,600
  • Healthcare and social assistance: $55,200
  • Administrative and support services: $53,000

APA.org

According to the APA, your salary as an occupational psychologist is dependent on your employer and experience. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology stated in 2012 that the beginning salary for an I/O psychologist with a master’s degree was $65,000. With a doctoral degree, the starting salary was $81,000. The median wage for all occupational psychologists was $80,000 per year. (APA.org)

Payscale.com

This website reports the average salary for industrial-organizational psychologists is $72,600, with a range between $41,000 and $123,000. (Payscale.com). Your wage can vary by the city in which you live:

  • Seattle: +26 higher than the median salary
  • Dallas: +20%
  • Washington DC: +19%
  • Los Angeles: +6%
  • New York City: +2%
  • Houston: +1%
  • Chicago: -1%

US News and World Report

This news publication states the median salary for industrial psychologists is $87,100 as of 2017. The top 25% earned $132,500 and the lowest 25% earned $62,600. (Money.USnews.com)

Ziprecruiter.com

This source reports an average salary of $116,175 per year. The range is between $26,000 and $152,500. Ziprecruiter.com also states the wage range of most I/O psychologists is $104,000 to $141,000. (Ziprecruiter.com)

Job Outlook for Occupational Psychologists

The job outlook for psychologists is promising. BLS states that job growth for psychologists will rise by 14% by 2028, much faster than average. While jobs will increase in occupational psychology, be aware there is stiff competition for positions in this specialty. Professionals equipped with a Ph.D. in occupational psychology are more likely to find the best jobs. Also, having training in quantitative research will give you a competitive advantage. (BLS.gov)

BLS reports the job outlook for training and development specialists is above average: There will be a 9% increase in jobs through 2028. Employees wanting to advance their skills often need to take continuing education classes, and there will be more demand for professionals who lead these courses.

Employment of training and development specialists should rise in many industries as more organizations develop new media and technology for their training classes. (BLS.gov)

Summary

Psychologists with a doctoral degree can make more than $75,000 per year, with some making more than $100,000. In occupational psychology, it also is possible to make more than $100,000. Job demand is on the rise in psychology at 14% growth through 2028, as well. If you earn your doctorate in occupational psychology, you will face competition for the best Psychology career opportunities, as this is a specialty that many psychologists enjoy.

Also, you will find the best job options in larger cities where large companies are situated. They are often hiring or contracting with occupational psychologists in the growing economy to get the most out of their workers and to prevent the best from switching jobs.

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Ann Steele, Ph.D.

Ann Steele, Ph.D.

Editor-In-Chief

Ann Steele, Ph.D., is Editor-In-Chief of PsydPrograms.org. Ann has training as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who has worked with adults, couples, adolescents, and preteens throughout San Diego county.