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I-O Career Paths in Academia

I-O Career Paths → Academia

The career paths in academia were found to have three levels (see figure above) that include Individual Contributor (Assistant and Associate Professor), Expert Individual Contributor (Full Professor), and Managerial (e.g. Department Chair, Dean, Vice President Provost, President).

The progression from Individual Contributor to Expert Individual Contributor is often the progression that Academics first follow. However, from there, Academics may move up to a managerial position and continue to stay in a managerial position until retirement or leaving the school. Or, they may move into a managerial position for a few years before returning to a professor position. Others may bounce back and forth between the two or even hold two positions (e.g., Full Professor and Department Chair) at the same time. Still others may remain as a Full Professor and never pursue a managerial position.

Across all levels of the Academia career paths the following competencies and experiences were identified as most important.

Top Competencies   Top Experiences
  1. Communication: Written
  2. Communication: Verbal
  3. Research Ability
  4. Integrity
  5. Ethical Behavior
  1. Design and conduct studies
  2. Publish articles in field of expertise
  3. Balance research, teaching, and service effectively
  4. Effectively manage class discussions, creating assignments, tests, quizzes, or papers, and grading course work
  5. Mentor students

Job titles among I-O psychologists in Academia may vary, but not as much as some of the other career fields. The table below identifies some of the more common titles. This list contains general types of job titles that may appear within each of the different career levels. They are meant to further clarify the different responsibilities between career levels and may not present actual job titles in your organization.

Individual Contributor


Assistant Professor
Associate Professor

Expert Individual Contributor


Full Professor



Department Chair

Manager of Managers





Vice President

Click here to view a matrix of common job titles across each career sector.