What is Business Psychology?

Business Psychology, also known as Industrial-Organizational Psychology, combines the art and science of psychology with useful and practical business applications to improve the work environment for employees and productivity for employers. A business psychologist attains this through their knowledge of human behavior and training in business concepts such as human resources and retention, according to the Association for Business Psychology.

Undergraduate Preparation

Starting your practice as a business, or industrial-organizational, psychologist first requires that you complete an undergraduate degree, then apply to a graduate program. At the undergraduate level, you are not likely to find a school that offers a degree specifically in business or I-O psychology. Pursuing a major in psychology with a business minor, or a business major with a psychology minor are both viable alternatives. Because many graduate programs do not dictate which degree a candidate must earn, your choice in undergraduate majors are near-limitless, though you may want to focus some of your coursework on both business and psychology coursework if you opt not to major in one of those fields. During your undergraduate career, it would be wise to partake in a business internship, either with other business or I-O psychologists, or in a human resources position.

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Choosing a Graduate Program

Graduate degrees in business and I-O psychology exist at both the master’s and doctoral level. A graduate of a master’s level degree will have access to many of the same employment opportunities as a graduate with doctoral training, but may be hired on at an entry level, while the doctoral candidate may be offered both higher ranking and higher paying positions. Those interested in teaching may want to make the time commitment to pursue a doctoral degree, as many universities require that faculty have a Ph. D in their field of study. In most cases, a master’s degree in business or I-O psychology will take two years to complete, while a doctoral degree will take at least four years. In both situations, it is recommended that you seek an internship after graduation to further gain experience and knowledge within the work force.

Career Outlook and Considerations

Practicing as a business psychologist requires that you graduate from a doctoral program, pass all required licensing exams and register with your state’s licensing board. Graduates of a master’s program may not need to seek licensure, depending on the state that they practice within, but cannot refer to themselves as psychologists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist in 2015 was $77,350. The American Psychological Association reports that the average starting salary for a graduate with a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology was $65,000 in 2012.

Related Resource: What Careers are in Environmental Psychology?

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If you have an interest in the practical and commercial applications of applied social science, then business psychology might be the right path for you. By pursuing a career in business psychology you will play a vital role in improving the work environment of employees while also helping to keep your business operating smoothly and efficiently.