I am negotiating the final stretch of my CIPD qualification, but I am really
interested in pursuing a career in occupational psychology. I have recently
registered for a degree course with the OU which is recognised by the BPS for
graduate membership upon completion. This could take me three to four years to
complete and I will then have to undertake a further course to specialise in
occupational psychology. Is there much call for occupational psychologists? Do
they work primarily as consultants in specialist roles, or can they become
full-time psychologists within a large organisation. I am keen to pursue this
but would like some guidance before I commit to the next five years.
Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS Consultancy
If the subject of occupational psychology really interests you, then doing
the degree will be good for your professional development and personal
satisfaction. It will complement your CIPD qualification and increase your
value for general HR opportunities.
As far as other possible specialist opportunities are concerned, there are a
wide range of possible options for someone with a degree in occupational
psychology. Organisations using or selling psychometric testing employ
occupational psychologists, for example, as do large organisations designing
and developing assessment centres.
Finally, have you approached the BPS for more careers information?
Peter Wilford, consultant, Chiumento
The consultancy side of occupational psychology has expanded over the last
decade in both specialist and wider roles and can also be found working,
usually in advisory roles, within large organisations. The prospects for either
career route are good, although, like all consultancies, they can be affected
more than most my economic turndowns.
Occupational psychologists often provide specialist services such as
psychometric analysis or selection centre design, while outplacement
consultancies use them to assist clients to determine their career direction –
again using psychometrics.
There are also specialist consultancies which carry out a wide range of
activities, including employee surveys of morale and the design and
implementation of programmes aimed at increasing the skills of employees and
retaining them into the future. I suggest you get in touch with some of these
consultancies to gain more inside knowledge.
Clare Judd, HR consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes
Occupational psychologists are increasingly in demand. They are concerned
with the performance of people at work and in training, how organisations
function and how individuals and small groups behave at work.
An OP may carry out individual work, organisational consultancy, assessment
and training, vocational guidance, counselling, ergonomics and health and
The Civil Service is one of the largest public employers. Within the private
sector, occupational psychologists are employed within large organisations and
consultancies, or are self-employed. Typically, roles in-house are specialist
and you would work in either of the following areas: organisational
development, training and development, occupational health or recruitment. You
could work with the ‘Big Five’ consultancies or smaller specialist business
psychology companies providing expertise in the areas of organisational development,
selection and assessment or individual development.