Why should I do a PhD in I/O psychology?
If you are considering a doing a PhD, especially in the humanities or social sciences, it is very important to also consider the job prospects. If you can choose between being a starving scholar and a thriving scholar, it might be better to pick the latter.
Training in I/O psychology is very broad, it enables you to find jobs as a consultant, a HR specialist, a psychometrician, a business school professor, or psychology professor. Of course, not all I/O programs train you for all types of jobs. It is important to apply for schools that train you for the specific types of jobs you desire. For example, the Purdue I/O program focuses on training PhDs for academic positions.
According to statistics from O*NET Online, sponsored by the Department of Labor, I/O psychology has very bright job prospects (http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3032.00)
Many I/O PhD holders can obtain a tenure-track academic position straight out of graduate school without doing a post-doctoral position, unlike in other fields such as Cognitive Psychology, Clinical Psychology, or Social Psychology. In fact, it is not the norm to do a post-doc to obtain a tenure-track position in I/O psychology.
Among the social sciences, the salary of a starting PhD is very competitive (http://www.siop.org/2009SIOPIncomeSurvey.pdf)
According to the 2009 salary survey, the average salary of those having a doctorate < 2 years is about $84,000. After 5-10 years, the average salary is about $110,000
In my view, I/O psychology is still psychology at heart. Therefore, one can still tailor one’s PhD research to study many of the things that social psychologists or clinical psychologists examine. Often, I/O psychology borrows many of its ideas from other fields of psychology but tailors it to the workplace. As such, if one generally desires to do a PhD in psychology, I/O psychology is a viable choice.
One thing that has drawn me to I/O psychology is the ability to be both in and out of the “ivory tower”. I/O psychologists are scientists and practitioners. I/O professors often serve as consultants to companies and organizations, and as catalysts to change. Being able to see the application of scientific research in organizations and other settings is something that is very rewarding. Also, conducting research in an applied setting enhances our scientific understanding. As Kurt Lewin noted, “"If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.”