Consulting psychologists provide psychological consultations and advisement to insurance companies, organizations, industries, corporations, governmental agencies, universities, the military, family businesses, school systems, public service agencies, religious sects and similar groups. Consulting psychologists help these agencies work more smoothly and efficiently by assessing, counseling and re-training their employees to improve their morale and increase their productivity. They also assess the management team, safety protocols and efficiency experts in order to re-design management strategies that can improve a company’s bottom line.
Consulting psychologists generally specialize in a particular field of psychology to work in, such as clinical, social, organizational, school or forensic psychology.
Services provided by a consulting psychologist typically include:
- Evaluating employees or staff
- Developing and implementing strategic plans
- Providing statistical analysis
- Coaching and educating the staff
- Assessing the leadership
- Conducting research
- Improving safety standards
- Appraising group dynamics
- Improving hiring practices
- Resolving disputes
- Administering psychological tests
- Assessing and developing talent in employees
Types of Degrees
Bachelor’s degrees aren’t available in consulting psychology. Most consulting psychologists start with a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in industrial-organizational psychology, though some major in general psychology and minor in business psychology.
Recommended subjects for undergraduates include the following:
- Business communication
- Conflict resolution
- Business management
- Positive psychology
- Sociology of work
- Research methods in psychology
- Psychological assessment
- Business research
- Principles of learning
- Social psychology
- Career counseling
- Leadership and empowerment
If you plan to specialize in a certain area of consulting psychology, you’ll need to take basic coursework for that specialty. For example, if you plan to specialize in organizational and business psychology (the most common specialty for consulting psychologists), you’ll need to take courses in business, finance, accounting and business management. You might be able to find a school you like that offers a major in organizational or business psychology, or at least a minor in it.
Master’s degrees in consulting psychology aren’t available. For a master’s degree in organizational and business consulting, you’ll need to take classes in subjects like the following:
- Applied cross-cultural industrial/organizational psychology
- Workforce training and development
- Applied psychological issues and methods
- Applied organizational development
- Applied psychological research methods
- Leadership development
- Competency modeling
- Quantitative research methods in psychology
- Social science statistics
- Human factors
For a forensic psychology consulting specialization, you’ll need courses in criminal justice at the undergraduate level, and you might consider minoring in it. Recommended subjects include:
- Judicial process
- Research design
- Criminal justice
- Criminal profiling
- American justice system
- Forensic science
For a social psychology consulting specialization, you’ll need to take coursework in sociology, social psychology, cultural biases, racial prejudice, etc.
Master’s degrees in psychology fields take about two years to complete, and doctor’s degrees two or three years, plus a year of internship.
Nearly all jobs in consulting psychology require a doctoral degree, preferably a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. There are a few doctorate programs available in consulting psychology. The aim of these programs is to prepare students to not only apply psychological principles in the workplace, but to also teach students to coach their future clients and their employees.
Consulting psychologists can work in just about any arena: politics, government agencies, business, school systems, non-profit organizations, relief organizations, health care, social organizations, religious organizations, criminal justice and activist movements. Anywhere there are people, there are psychological issues that need to be dealt with.
Those who specialize in forensic consulting psychology can work for court systems, law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities or governmental agencies. Social consulting psychologists often work for government agencies. Industrial-organizational specialists work for corporate businesses or private companies. Clinical specialists work for hospitals, mental health facilities or other health care facilities.
Some consulting psychologists work for individuals, sometimes as a career counselor. Others advise political candidates or standing politicians, sometimes even helping with political ads.
Some individuals start their own private practices or form partnership firms with other consulting psychologists.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics website has stated that the estimated 2013 median annual wage for consulting psychologists was $87,960, while the mean hourly wage was listed at $42.29.
- How to Become an Occupational Health Psychologist
- How to Become a Social Psychologist
- What Job are Available With a Degree in Forensic Psychology?
- What Can You Do with a Criminal Psychology Degree?
- How to Get a Degree in Industrial-Organziational Psychology?