Business psychology (also known as occupational psychology, work psychology or industrial-organizational psychology) is the study of behavior in the workplace in order to improve the efficiency, morale and effectiveness of the workforce. Business psychologists help create healthy and productive relationships between businesses and their workforces.
Business psychologists not only increase the profits of the companies that hire them, but they also benefit the workers by improving their working conditions. Business psychologists help re-train workers by demonstrating work techniques that are safer, more efficient and more healthful, and they set up better systems of worker feedback so that management is more aware of the needs of its workforce.
Business psychology is considered an applied science because it puts research and theories to practical use, but business psychology also conducts some of its own research, so it also has an experimental side. Business psychologists survey workers and managers across the country to discover management systems that help align workers and managers into a solid team, and they incorporate these systems and ideas into other businesses with similar needs and goals. Business psychologist use questionnaires, focus groups, interviews and case studies in their research.
Related: Becoming a Business Psychologist
Business psychologists also design and administer a variety of tests to workers and managers in order to assess their personalities and work skills, including personality tests, cognitive ability tests, psycho-motor ability tests, knowledge tests and structured interviews. They then use the results of these tests to improve the company’s hiring practices and to place workers in jobs that are better suited to their talents. They also demonstrate better ways of conducting job interviews and offer advice for placing ads for job positions.
Business psychologists can help workers and managers alike in dealing with transitional phases in a company’s development and can help lower the turnover rate of employees.
Business Psychology Degrees
Some universities offer bachelor’s degrees in business psychology, but make sure you search for it under all its names: business psychology, industrial psychology, organizational psychology, occupational psychology or a combination of these names. This is usually considered an interdisciplinary major, incorporating business, psychology, human resources, research communication and strategic thinking. Some schools design the business psychology program as a double major—usually business and psychology.
Students will learn how to critically analyze issues related to the workforce of the organization and provide psychological solutions to them. Typical courses of business psychology degrees include an overview of personnel management, training and development, performance and compensation measurement, motivational attitudes, assessment of relationships at work, research methods, neuropsychology and analyzing organizational effectiveness.
Business psychology students must take a heavy concentration of business classes, and those who plan to specialize in a particular type of business must learn as much as possible about that particular business.
Other required or recommended coursework can include:
- Sociology of work
- Business ethics
- Social psychology
- Research methods
- Career counseling
- Assessments and evaluation
- Principles of business management
- Teamwork and negotiation
- Leadership and empowerment
- Human resource management
- Consumer and marketing psychology
- Engineering psychology
- Organizational change and development
- Psychological research
A Master of Arts in Business Psychology may span up to 4 years for comprehensive programs while a Master of Science in Business Psychology usually spans over 2 years.
Most jobs in business psychology require either a master’s or a doctor’s degree. A doctorate is normally needed for full-fledged business psychologists and jobs positions in research and teaching.
Business psychology is a relatively new field that is growing rapidly because more and more companies are finding out about its effectiveness. Companies of all sizes and types are hiring business psychologists to increase their bottom line and improve the safety and satisfaction of their workforces.
In February of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that business psychologist was the fastest-growing occupation in the US, with a growth rate of 53% from then until 2022.
A graduate degree in business psychology may qualify students for jobs in related fields, such as:
- Organizational Effectiveness Director
- Talent Management Manager
- Management Analyst
- Compensation, Benefits and Job Analysis Specialist
- Human Resource Specialist
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median yearly salary for business psychologists in 2014 was $83,580.