How Much Do Industrial-Organizational Psychologists Make?

Image: Marius Muresan

What are the typical salaries you might find in the field of industrial-organizational psychology? Industrial-organizational psychology (often referred to as I-O psychology) is a specialty area that involves applying psychological principles to areas such as management, human resources, organizational issues, employee selection, and policy planning. People who specialize in this area often work with businesses to improve employee selection, encourage employee retention, improve the workplace, and increase worker productivity.

Interest in industrial-organizational psychology has grown in recent years. In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that I-O psychology would be the fastest-growing career of the next decade. It is important to remember that salary potential should not be your only concern when selecting a psychology career. Understanding your earnings potential is important, but other factors such as your passion for the career as well as the job outlook for the field are also important. 

Just how much can people expect to earn in this field?

I-O Salaries

According to employment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for I-O psychologists as of May 2015 was $92,320. The bottom 10 percent of I-O psychologists earned around $52,270 and the top 10 percent earned an average of $158,990, with a median annual wage of $77,350. CNN Money suggests that the top five-percent of industrial-organizational psychologists earn approximately $177,668.

As with other specialty areas, wages vary depending upon a variety of factors including geographic location, educational background, area of employment, and years of experience in the field. Individuals with a master's or doctorate degree also command higher yearly salaries.

In general, those in large urban areas will find more employment opportunities as well as higher wages, although such benefits are often accompanied by a higher cost of living.

States employing the most I-O psychologists include California, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia. Professionals working in Virginia earned an average of $110,880, while those employed in Massachusetts earned an average of $72,610.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that wages also vary considerably depending upon the industry in which industrial-organizational psychologists are employed. The mean annual wage for various industry is as follows:

  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services: $95,060
  • Scientific Research and Development Services: $89,320
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional School: $81,190
  • State Government: $76,660

Do you think you might be interested in a career in I-O psychology? Then be sure to check out the following resources for more information.

Learn more:


Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Industrial-Organizational psychologists: Occupational and employment wages, May 2012. Occupational Employment Statistics. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists. Occupational Employment Statistics; 2016.

Continue Reading