Careers in industrial psychology

Psychology seems to be a popular course among many Malaysian students. There are many fields within Psychology which are not known to many. One such field is Industrial Psychology.

Industrial psychology, or organisational psychology is a branch of psychology that studies and applies psychological theories to workplace environments, organisations and employees.

Professionals in the field focus on increasing workplace productivity by improving the physical and mental health of employees.

Workplace settings of every size and industry can benefit from the assistance of an industrial psychologist.

By studying employee’s attitudes and behaviours in the context of their companies, these professionals are able to identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes through new products, procedures and leadership training.

In addition to a wide variety of entry-level and advanced positions in consulting firms, government agencies and academic institutions, human resource departments in public and private sectors also offer many opportunities. Job titles and levels of responsibility vary depending on levels of education and experience.

What Industrial Psychologists Do

Industrial psychologists apply theories and principles honed through research to improve workplace dynamics.

They identify training and development needs in areas such as productivity, management and employee working styles, and help companies address problems by coaching employees, developing performance evaluation criteria and assessing market strategies.

Professionals in this field must have knowledge of ethical considerations, administrative regulations and case law relating to workplace activities.

Becoming an Industrial Psychologist

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step in becoming an industrial psychologist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field from a fully accredited programme.

Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in industrial psychology while others provide an industrial psychology specialisation as part of a general psychology degree. Related programmes include sociology, education and business management.

For students electing to complete a degree outside psychology, they should undertake foundational courses in psychological principles, research methodology, statistics, and social psychology, and take part in academic research.

Although it is possible to find jobs in marketing, business management or human resources with a bachelor’s degree, most students choose to continue their education.

Step 2. Complete a Master’s Degree Program me

A master’s degree is usually necessary to practice industrial psychology in the private sector.

Coursework focuses on the psychology of leadership and organisational structuring while teaching students how to apply these frameworks to the workplace.

Students also spend time honing their skills in research techniques and statistical analysis.

Many programmes require student to write a thesis based on original research in the field, although some mandate a comprehensive exam instead.

With a master’s degree, graduates can conduct research and provide consulting services for public and private organisations, but to perform clinical work a PhD is usually required.

Step 3. Obtain a Doctoral Degree

For students aspiring to higher-level careers in research, clinical practice or academia, a doctorate is usually necessary.

Most PhD programs include two years of coursework focused on theories and principles grounded in scientific research. Students must research and write a dissertation, which can take one to three years to complete.

Career Tips

In USA, Industrial Psychology currently has the highest growth rate of any occupation according to the Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Handbook.

At 53 per cent, industrial psychology has the highest percentage of expected change amongst the top 20 fastest growing occupations for 2012 to 2022.

Earnings in this field outpace the overall job market, especially for those who have a high level of education and experience.

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