Workplaces around the world are evolving quickly to meet rising employee expectations and cultural shifts that value wellbeing and retention as much as productivity. The field of industrial-organizational psychology gives companies the means to keep up in an ever-changing environment.

Industrial-organizational psychology combines elements of psychology and management to give professionals the skills to build effective, healthy, and productive employees and organizations. 

People who study industrial-organizational psychology can enjoy careers in a wide range of industries, including academia, talent management and recruiting, management, and government. Read our blog on Building a Career in Industrial-Organizational Psychology for more information. 

But to get the job, you’ll first need to learn the skills. 

Most jobs in industrial-organizational psychology require a master’s degree, and some may also call for a doctorate. If you’re still in undergraduate studies, you can enter a subfield of industrial-organizational psychology—human resources, organizational behavior, career counseling, or organizational development—with a bachelor’s degree. 

There are many career paths you can take with an industrial-organizational psychology degree, from human relations to people analytics. While the education and accreditation you’ll need will ultimately vary by job here are some basic skills that will serve you well in this field. 


To be effective in this field, you must be a skilled listener because you need to understand the needs facing individuals as well as organizations. For some, listening is an innate talent, while for others it’s a learned skill. Either way, there’s always room to improve your listening skills


Finding resolutions to conflicts—whether organizational or interpersonal—is a key part of an industrial-organizational psychologist’s skill set. You’ll need to be a neutral party adept at finding the crux of workplace issues and coming up with solutions that are fair and stay true to your organization’s culture and mission.  

Negotiation and Persuasion

The workplace is full of compromises, and as an industrial-organizational psychologist, you may be the main negotiator. Whether brokering compensation packages, contracts, or disputes between two parties, you’ll need to find viable and satisfactory solutions for all. You’ll also want to be able to present your ideas accurately and persuasively. 

Data Analysis

Industrial-organizational psychology requires more than soft skills. Performing quantitative analysis is important in the subfield of people analytics, where you’ll need to analyze data that can be used to make hiring decisions, set benchmarks, and assess organizational needs. Data analysis and other technical skills can give you a significant edge in the field, as well as a higher salary. 

Writing and Reading Comprehension

These skills are not to be taken for granted, especially in an industry where written documentation is so important. You’ll need to be able to write and understand complex policies, contracts, agreements, and even legislation and legal documents that are key to effective and transparent operations. 

Business Acumen

Understanding the business model, goals, and challenges of the organization for which you’re working is essential to helping it thrive. Many companies will also be looking for professionals with industrial-organizational psychology training who can go above and beyond to improve operations. So having a good mind for business is a major benefit. 

Social Skills

Industrial-organizational psychology roles tend to be people oriented. Being a good conversationalist, reading social cues, and being able to relate to people will give you a leg up in the market. Working on your emotional intelligence can help you hone your social skills. 

Teaching and Learning

Many industrial-organizational psychology jobs will require at least some employee training, as well as continuing education, on your part. If you’re someone who gets excited about sharing and gaining knowledge, you’re in a good position to succeed in this field. 


Experience managing people or a natural ability to lead are key skills in this industry. Being able to plan, organize, hire, and train a staff may even be your main duties. So obtaining or improving upon your management skills is a good idea. 


It’s hard to overstate the importance of good communication skills for most professionals, and especially industrial-organizational psychologists. Expressing your thoughts clearly, whether through writing or speech, will be essential. Communication also includes your body language and tone, so be aware that these can affect how your message is perceived. 

How to Build Industrial-Organizational Psychology Skills

Developing skills in industrial-organizational psychology allows you to pursue a successful and fulfilling career in human resources, people analytics, consulting, coaching, or recruiting. Be sure to read our blog post on industrial-organizational psychology jobs to learn more about opportunities in this growing field. 

If you want to grow your skill set, there are multiple pathways you can take. Beginners, whether undergraduate or graduate, may want to start by taking a single course in management or psychology. You can also start by seeking out professionals in the field or academic advisors who can answer your questions and share details on what it’s like to work in industrial-organizational psychology. 

Entry-level jobs will likely require a graduate degree in industrial-organizational psychology. Certain jobs may also call for a doctorate degree. If you’re working on a bachelor’s degree and interested in this field, focus your studies on management, psychology, or one of the subfields mentioned earlier. Starting broadly will help you narrow down the type of work you ultimately want to be doing. 

Working professionals in related fields may be able to enter industrial-organizational psychology by augmenting their experience and undergraduate education with a graduate certificate. An organizational behavior graduate certificate provides a great foundation for professionals in any field. Graduate certificates in data analytics and strategic management can also give you some of the skills you need for a career in industrial-organizational psychology. 

The field of industrial-organizational psychology is wide. To determine exactly which skill sets you’ll need for your desired career, it’s a good idea to search job postings that look attractive to you and take note of the desired skills and education listed. And the more people in the field you can talk to, the better, so don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals on social media or through your network.