Health psychology is a specialized field with an emphasis on evaluating the social, biological, and psychological factors responsible for both affecting and improving human health. Professionals in this field ensure better health and safety for their patients and concentrate on curing diseases and illnesses. There are four divisions, or sub-fields, in this discipline that are concerned with health: clinical psychology, public health psychology, community health psychology, and occupational health psychology.
Being one of the specialized sub-fields of health sciences, occupational health psychology, or OHP, has two components, namely health and industrial-organizational psychology. OHP professionals evaluate patients’ workplace issues such as health related problems associated with psychosocial uniqueness. Additionally, this field also suggests and implements ways to change workplace settings to best benefit workers’ health. People interested in this field must fulfill educational and training requirements, but the rewards of this growing career are worth the time and effort to enter it.
Occupational Health Psychologists have one primary goal, which is to treat and aid workers in such a way that their overall health increases without negatively affecting their job site productivity. When OHP practitioners provide their services, organizations’ productivity tends to increase because workers become involved in a lot of psychosocial work benefiting their mental and physical health. OHP specialists help treat several physical problems as well, including various diseases or injuries resulting from accidents.
In addition to physical ailments, occupational health psychologists treat mental health problems like depression, stress, burnout, and more. OHP professionals also assist people attempting to overcome addictions, whether their troubles stem from drugs, smoking, or alcohol. When issues like pay, promotions, and job-related stress begin to negatively affect workers’ morale, OHP therapists help lift workers’ spirits. Sometimes this means assisting workers in eliminating the stress related to supervisors or coworkers, while at others it leads to concentrating on improving job site accident risks and workplace safety.
Most master’s degree programs in occupational health psychology last for two years and consist of about 120 credits. The program focuses on theoretical background, research, and intervention techniques within various organizations, with common courses including organizational behavior, employee selection and placement, organizations’ and employees’ well-being, and development. Students in the master’s program are taught relevant skills to reduce stress and promote health within the workplace. With these skills, graduates can work as consultants to enhance employees’ health, and make and discover new ways of supervising, training, and recruiting workers.
A Ph. D. program is for students who wish to learn and work with qualified supervisors to gain knowledge and develop skills through various strategies like group seminars, research, workshops, and more. This degree puts a great emphasis on psychosocial risk management, work and health, aging, managing unceasing conditions at work, gender issues, rail transport, cancer resilience, and health and work organizations. Ph. D. candidates must first complete an undergraduate degree in human factors, ergonomics, nursing, medicine, or psychology, and then a master’s degree in a similar field.
According to a2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, occupational health psychology had around 1,230 jobs available. OHP professionals are mostly employed in management, scientific, and technical consulting services, scientific research and development services, state government positions, and in colleges, universities, and professional schools.
As of May 2012, well-qualified occupational health psychologists earned on average $90,000 annually (indeed.com).