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2009 Income and Employment Survey Results for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Charu Khanna and Gina J. Medsker
Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO)

Authors’ notes: The Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) developed and analyzed the 2009 Income and Employment Survey of the membership of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) as a service to SIOP. We would like to acknowledge the support of Questar, who programmed and administered the online survey. We would also like to acknowledge the involvement of David Nershi and Larry Nader in the SIOP Administrative Office and Joan Brannick, Mo Wang, Deborah Gebhardt, Mark Poteet, David Dickter, and Carl Persing, who reviewed drafts of the survey or this report. A more detailed version of this report is available at www.siop.org/2009SIOPIncomeSurvey.pdf. Please address correspondence to the first author at HumRRO, 66 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 700, Alexandria, VA 22314 or at ckhanna@humrro.org.

Editor’s note: These data reflect income and conditions in calendar year 2009 and were collected in 2010.

The survey’s purpose was to collect information on 2009 income levels of industrial and organizational psychologists in SIOP and on employment and background variables that would help interpret income data. Survey instructions were e-mailed on January 7, 2010, to all Members, Associate Members, International Affiliates, and Fellows with active e-mail addresses on record (n = 3,903). The survey was electronically available until February 3; 1,135 individuals responded. This was the third SIOP income survey to be administered electronically. The response rate was 29.1%, which is lower than the 34.2% response rate for both 2006 and 2003 surveys. Response rates have been declining since the first such survey was conducted in 1982 and are a problem with survey administration in general.



Key findings for unweighted 2009 data are as follows:

  • Median incomes for the 2009 sample were generally higher than in 2006.
  • Median primary income for women was 16.4% lower than that for men and mean income 21.0% lower than that for men.
  • Median primary income was highest for the over-55 age group.
  • Mean and median incomes for owners were higher than for non-owners.
  • The highest median incomes were in Manhattan, followed by Washington DC, Los Angeles/Orange County, and Boston metro areas.
  • Independent consultants had higher median incomes than respondents in other types of organizations.
  • Academics at business departments earned significantly higher incomes than those in psychology departments.
  • Academics in departments that offered higher level degrees (such as a PhD compared to a master’s or bachelor’s) earned significantly higher incomes.
  • The mean amount contributed by an employer to defined contribution plans was 7.0% of income; the median was 6.0%.
  • The mean amount to be provided by an employer through defined benefit plans was 42.8% of income; the median was 42.0%.
  • 42.6% of respondents in 2009 reported receiving a bonus. The largest mean bonuses were for individual performance at 20.1% of primary income, and the largest median bonuses were for group, department, or unit performance at 9.7% of primary income.
  • 41.6% of respondents reported receiving a pay raise in 2009. The mean and median increase for those with the same job and employer were 4.6% and 3.5% of income, respectively.

Sample Characteristics
For the unweighted sample, percentages of respondents by type of employer (51.4% private sector, 35.6% academic, 7.3% public sector, and 5.8% other) were similar to those in the SIOP membership population in order of size (50.1% private sector, 40.0% academic, 6.5% public sector, and 3.4% other), although the academic population was somewhat underrepresented. Table 1 compares the 2009 sample to previous survey samples on several background variables. The percentage of women has been increasing since 1982. Percentages by type of SIOP membership on the 2009 survey were similar to those for the 2006 survey, as well as to types of membership within SIOP as a whole (14.3% of SIOP members are Associates, 79.1% Members or International Affiliates, and 6.6% Fellows).

The 2009 survey sample was similar to the 2006 and 2003 surveys on several characteristics and, like these two prior surveys, somewhat different from pre-2003 surveys. For example, percentages of the sample working part time and respondents living in metro New York City were lower in the current survey, as well as in the 2006 and 2003 surveys, than in the 1997 and 2000 surveys. Percentages of respondents with doctorates have been consistent across survey samples since 2000. These figures are similar to those in the current SIOP professional membership population—84.4% of SIOP members have doctorates and 14.9% have master’s degrees.

Sample weighting. About half the survey respondents in 2009 (50.8%) earned their highest degree in or after 1999. For the SIOP membership, however, this figure was lower (41.6%). Given this difference, we ran analyses with the 2009 data, as well as with 2009 data weighted to have similar percentages by years since highest degree as in the current SIOP membership (using simulated replication with the weight command in SPSS). Years since highest degree is one of the five variables on which data are available for the current SIOP membership population. It was selected as the weighting variable as it is significantly correlated (r = .38, p < .001, two-tailed) with 2009 primary income in the unweighted sample. Years since highest degree was also highly correlated with other variables that were significantly related to 2009 primary income for which we do not have SIOP membership data. Correlations for years since highest degree are .91 with years of work experience in industrial and organizational psychology, .90 with age, .65 with years with 2009 employer, .43 with practitioner job level, .32 with SIOP membership status, and .29 with being an owner (all significant at p < .001, two-tailed).

Although other variables on which we have SIOP membership data were also significantly related to income (SIOP membership status, highest degree received, and employment sector), the correlation between income and years since obtaining one’s highest degree was the highest. Though several other variables have larger or similar correlations with income as years since highest degree, we did not have data on them for the SIOP membership population and could not use them to weight the data.

Weighted results generally provide a better representation for the SIOP membership population; however, unweighted results are also presented for comparison. Weighting substantially changed the percentage of respondents who received their highest degree after 1999 (41.6% in the SIOP membership population, 50.8% with unweighted data, and 41.3% with weighted data). Weighting also reduced the disparity between the sample and the SIOP membership population in the sector of employment for the private sector (50.1% in the SIOP population, 51.4% unweighted, and 49.6% weighted).

Income Levels
Highest degree obtained. Respondents were asked to provide their 2009 and 2008 total salary or personal income, not including bonuses or other variable pay, from their primary employer. Table 2 presents unweighted data above the sample size in parentheses and weighted data below the sample size. Median unweighted and weighted incomes for respondents with doctorates were higher in 2009 and 2008 than in 2006. However, for respondents with master’s degrees, only unweighted 2009 primary income was higher than 2006 income; 2008 incomes and weighted 2009 income were lower than those in 2006.

Gender. For unweighted data, Table 2 shows that median primary income for women was 16.4% lower than that for men in 2009 and 16.7% lower in 2008. The income of women respondents has consistently been lower than that of men; on prior surveys, the difference between the median income for men and women ranged from 15.0% in 2006 to 22.0% in 1997. The mean unweighted primary income for women in both 2009 and 2008 ($101,404 and $99,571, respectively) was significantly lower (t(850) = 6.38, p < .001, two-tailed, unequal variances, and t(838) = 5.93, p < .001, two-tailed, unequal variances, respectively) than the mean primary income for men ($128,403 in 2009 and $125,335 in 2008). The mean income for women was 21.0% lower in 2009 than that for men and 20.6% lower in 2008. In surveys since 2000, the difference between the mean incomes of men and women has ranged from 14.7% in 2005 to 36.6% in 2000.

Weighted medians (shown under the sample size for years from 2002 to 2009 in Table 2) were higher for both men and women in 2009 and 2008 than unweighted medians. Mean weighted incomes were also higher for both men ($136,820 in 2009 and $134,138 in 2008) and women ($105,199 in 2009 and $103,907 in 2008) than unweighted means. Based on weighted data, women’s median incomes were still 20.2% lower than median incomes for men for 2009 and 18.3% lower for 2008, and their means were 23.1% lower for 2009 and 22.5% lower for 2008.

Age. As Table 2 shows, unweighted median primary income was highest for the over-55 age group. Unweighted median incomes for all age groups were higher in 2009 and 2008 than what they had been in 2006, except for respondents under 35 (their 2008 income was lower). In comparing unweighted and weighted medians by age for 2009 and 2008, just over half of the weighted medians are higher than the unweighted medians. (In the remainder of this report, results from analyses on income by job characteristics, employer type, or location are only presented for 2009 income because we did not collect descriptive data on these variables for 2008 and cannot assume that such characteristics were the same for both 2009 and 2008.)

Years since doctorate. Figure 1 shows weighted 2009 incomes from the primary employer for respondents with doctorates by the number of years since they received their degree. Respondents who received doctorates 25 years ago or more had the highest median income ($148,539), while those who received doctorates between 20 and 24 years ago had the highest mean income ($166,038). Results are similar for weighted and unweighted data.

Geographic location of employment. Specific metro areas listed on the survey were chosen because they are typically the highest paid in the U.S. With unweighted data, Manhattan had the highest 2009 median income ($140,000), followed by Washington D.C. ($125,000), Los Angeles/Orange County ($120,000), and Boston metro ($112,000) areas. With weighting (Figure 2), medians for all areas went up, except for respondents from the San Francisco/San Jose metro area, for whom it went down slightly. Although other New York metro and San Francisco/San Jose metro were among the four areas with the top median incomes in 2006, they dropped to seventh and eighth place, respectively, in the 2009 survey. More than three-fourths of respondents from Canada are from metropolitan areas; as the number of cases in each city was too small to report, they were merged into a single category.

Type of principal employment. Of respondents with doctorates, over half in the unweighted sample indicated that their principal employer was either a university or college (40.7%, n = 388) or private-sector consulting organization (21.7%, n = 207). In the unweighted data, the employer type with the highest median income was individual/self-employed consulting, followed by pharmaceuticals, energy production, hospitality, and the federal government. With weighting, the two biggest employer categories were still universities and colleges (42.0%) and private-sector consulting organizations (20.5%). Based on weighted data (see Figure 3), individual/self-employed consultants still had the highest median income, followed by pharmaceuticals, hospitality, energy production, and manufacturing.

Type of academic employment. For those working in universities or colleges, the unweighted mean income differed by the highest degree a department offered (bachelor’s $76,950, n = 33; master’s $99,200, n = 104; doctorate $114,340, n = 223; F(3,358) = 6.53, p < .001). In addition, the unweighted mean income of respondents working at business or management departments ($137,037, n = 145) was significantly (F(1,337) = 101.77, p < .001) higher than the mean income of those in psychology departments ($83,778, n = 194). For weighted data, mean and median incomes at psychology and business or management departments based on highest degree offered were:

  • Psychology department, highest degree bachelor’s: mean $77,175 and median $64,076 (n = 22)
  • Psychology department, highest degree master’s: mean $72,156 and median $72,272 (n = 36)
  • Psychology department, highest degree doctorate: mean $94,805 and median $82,423 (n = 128)
  • Business department, highest degree bachelor’s: mean $80,355 and median $74,178 (n = 5)
  • Business department, highest degree master’s: mean $125,060 and median $112,200 (n = 62)
  • Business department, highest degree doctorate: mean $162,269 and median $146,249 (n = 85)
  • The unweighted mean income did not differ significantly (F(1,365) = .00, p = .95) for private ($105,806, n = 93) and public institutions ($105,404, n = 274)

Academic titles by department type. Figure 4 shows weighted 2009 income for psychology and business/management departments for the five academic titles that had adequate sample sizes. Distinguished or chaired professors had the highest primary median and mean income in both types of departments. There were significant differences between incomes in psychology and business/management departments for assistant professors (F(1,108) = 93.17, p < .001 unweighted and F(1,81) = 65.72, p < .001 weighted), associate professors (F(1,94) = 70.08, p < .001 unweighted and F(1,95) = 61.40, p < .001 weighted), full professors (F(1,66) = 9.56, p < .05 unweighted and F(1,81) = 14.71, p < .001 weighted), and distinguished or chaired professors (F(1,22) = 13.56, p = .001 unweighted and F(1,32) = 16.62, p < .001 weighted). Tables with Figure 4 present both weighted and unweighted results.

Practitioner job titles. Figure 5 shows weighted 2009 primary income by job level for those in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. Tables with the figure show weighted and unweighted percentiles. Weighted means and medians are higher than unweighted means and medians, with the exception of those for entry-level practitioners. Senior vice presidents had the highest mean and median incomes in both unweighted and weighted data; presidents or CEOs also had the highest median in weighted data. To view this data in context, it may be relevant to mention that 67.9% of presidents and CEOs in the sample work in organizations that have less than 10 employees, 14.4% work in organizations with over 100 employees, and the largest organization that a respondent is president or CEO of has 750 employees. None of the senior vice presidents, on the other hand, work in organizations with less than 10 employees, 82.4% work in organizations with over 100 employees, and the largest organization that a respondent is senior vice president of has 300,000 employees.


Status as a partner, principal, or owner. In the unweighted 2009 sample, 4.2% were sole proprietors or owners, 1.4% partners, 1.1% principals, 0.9% primary shareholders (i.e., owners of 20.0% or more of a corporation), and 1.7% were minority shareholders (i.e., owners of less than 20.0% of a corporation). Owners had higher mean and median primary incomes than non-owners for both unweighted and weighted data (see Figure 6). With weighting, both means and medians increased for most types of owners as well as non-owners. (Only respondents in private-sector, for-profit industries were asked about their ownership status; income data from nonprofit and government respondents are presented for comparison.)

Starting salaries. With unweighted data from those who had hired new graduates in 2009 and reported the average salary of these new hires, the mean and median starting salary was:

  • Doctoral graduates in I-O psychology: mean $81,965 and median $75,000 (n = 55)
  • Master’s degree graduates in I-O psychology: mean $56,794 and median $55,000 (n = 53)
  • Doctoral graduates in HR/OB: mean $84,731 and median $80,000 (n = 13)
  • Master’s degree graduates in HR/OB: mean $68,643 and median $64,000 (n = 7)

For 10 respondents who self-reported that they had obtained a doctorate in the past year and had a year or less of work experience in I-O psychology or a related field, the 2009 unweighted mean primary income was $82,897 and median was $76,000. There were very few cases in a comparable subgroup with a master’s degree, so their income is not reported.

Retirement, Bonus, and Raise Information
Retirement plans. The survey asked about two types of plans that employers use to fund retirement systems: defined contribution and defined benefit. In defined contribution plans, employers typically contribute a specified amount of money or percent of salary into a plan annually into a retirement account, and it is invested until an employee retires. In the U.S., 401(k) and 403(b) plans are defined contribution plans. With a defined benefit plan, an employer typically agrees to pay the employee a certain amount or percentage of salary once the employee retires.

For 2009, 76.7% (n = 850) of respondents indicated that their employer offers a defined contribution plan, and 27.2% (n = 301) indicated that their employer provides a defined benefit plan. For 533 respondents who reported the percentage of income that their employer contributed to a defined contribution plan in 2009, the unweighted mean amount contributed was 7.0% and median was 6.0%; the weighted mean was 7.2% and median was 6.0%.  For 63 respondents who reported the percentage of final salaries that their employer will provide after they retire through a defined benefit plan, the unweighted mean amount was 42.8% and median was 42.0%; the weighted mean was 45.0% and median was 50.0%.

Bonuses and stock options. Overall, 42.6% of respondents in 2009 reported receiving a bonus, as compared to 46.0% in 2006. The percentage of respondents in each sector who reported receiving a bonus in 2009 were:

  • Private sector: 66.9%
  • Nonprofit: 46.9%
  • Government and military: 49.4% 
  • University or college: 12.4%­­­­
  • Self-employed: 10.2%

Considering all bonuses awarded, with some respondents getting more than one bonus, the percentages of respondents who received a specific type of bonus in 2009 were:

  • Individual bonus: 28.1%
  • Organizational bonus: 22.0%
  • Group, department, or unit performance bonus: 11.7%
  • Other reasons: 2.5%
  • Retention bonus: 2.2%
  • Special projects bonus: 2.0%
  • Signing or recruiting bonus: 1.7%
  • Exercising stock options: 0.6%

To examine bonus size (as a percent of reported 2009 primary income) by type, we examined data from 258 respondents who reported that they received only a single type of bonus. The average size of each type of bonus was:

  • Individual performance bonus: 20.1% mean and 4.3% median (n = 102) unweighted; 19.4% mean and 4.3% median (n = 98) weighted
  • Group, department, or unit performance bonus: 12.8% mean and 9.7% median (n = 16) unweighted; 13.8% mean and 10.2% median (n = 14) weighted
  • Organizational performance bonus: 12.0% mean and 6.6% median (n = 66) unweighted; 12.8% mean and 6.9% median (n = 68) weighted
  • Other bonuses: 9.8% mean and 3.4% median (n = 13) unweighted; 10.4% mean and 3.7% median (n = 13) weighted
  • Special project bonus: 8.9% mean and 2.6% median (n = 6) unweighted; 10.6% mean and 9.3% median (n = 6) weighted
  • Retention bonus: 4.2% mean and 1.5% median (n = 5) unweighted; 4.1% mean and 1.5% median (n = 5) weighted

Too few respondents (n < 5) reported receiving a bonus in the form of stock options, or for receiving a degree or a certification, or signing on to or joining an organization, so their data are not reported.

Pay raises. A minority of respondents (41.6%) reported receiving a pay raise in 2009, far lower than the 79.9% who received a pay raise in 2006. The average size of each type of pay raise (as a percent of base salary before the raise) was:

  • A promotion with the same employer: 10.1% mean and 8.0% median (n = 30) unweighted; 9.7% mean and 7.8% median (n = 24) weighted
  • An increase in responsibility with the same employer: 7.5% mean and 6.5% median (n = 21) unweighted; 6.9% mean and 5.0% median (n = 18) weighted
  • Other reasons: 6.1% mean and 7.0% median (n = 5) unweighted; 6.1% mean and 6.9% median (n = 6) weighted
  • The same job at the same employer: 4.6% mean and 3.5% median (n = 337) unweighted; 4.5% mean and 3.5% median (n=317) weighted

There were too few respondents (n < 5) who received pay raises for a similar job at a new employer, a higher level job at a new employer, or a transfer to another job or location at the same employer to provide their data.

Regression Analyses
We analyzed the relationships of personal and employment characteristics to income from the primary employer using unweighted data in separate regression equations for respondents working in universities or colleges and those working for nonacademic employers because we had collected data on several different variables for the two groups (e.g., type of academic department for those in academia, appropriate job levels for the two groups, and ownership status for practitioners). The equation for the academic sample accounted for more variance in 2009 income from the primary employer (R2 = .72, R2adj = .68, F(34,278) = 20.54, p < .001) than the equation for the practitioner sample (R2 = .50, R2adj = .44, F(54,466) = 8.57, p < .001).

For the academic sample, coefficients were significantly positive (p < .05) for years since obtaining one’s highest degree, hours worked per week for the primary employer, number of employees supervised, being a SIOP Fellow (compared to a SIOP member), working in a business or industrial relations department (compared to a psychology department), being a distinguished or chaired professor (compared to an assistant professor), and having tenure. Number of years worked for the primary employer and working in departments where the highest degree offered were bachelor’s or master’s (compared to a doctorate) were significantly (p < .05) and negatively correlated with income.

In the equation for practitioners, coefficients were significantly positive (p < .05) for hours worked per week for the primary employer, number of employees supervised, working in Manhattan or the Philadelphia or Washington D.C. metro areas (compared to areas not listed on the survey that are in the U.S.), working in energy production or other private sector (compared to a consulting organization), being a senior vice president (compared to a senior consultant, researcher, or practitioner), and being some type of owner. Working for a state government (compared to consulting organizations) had significant negative coefficients (p < .05) with income.

Although the R2 for the equation for practitioners was only slightly lower than that in 2006 (R2 = .55, R2adj = .50, F(54,533) = 12.00, p < .001), there were a few unexpected results. For instance, the number of years since respondents earned their highest degree was not significantly correlated with income. We explored the possibility of a curvilinear relationship between income and years since obtaining one’s highest degree to explain these results but did not find evidence to support this idea.

It appears that the high degree of intercorrelation among some of the variables included in the regression equation (years since highest degree and years of work experience r = .91, years since highest degree and age r = .90, and years of work experience and age r = .89) made it difficult to find significance for individual predictors. We tested this idea by removing age and years of work experience from the practitioner equation and found that years since obtaining one’s highest degree had a significant positive relationship with income when these variables were removed.


The 2009 survey was the third SIOP Income and Employment Survey to be administered via the Internet. The 2009 response rate (29.1%) was lower than that for the previous survey (34.2%), as has been the trend with surveys in general. The proportion of female respondents continued to increase, with 46.0% in 2009, which was nearly three times the percent of woman responding to the survey conducted in 1982 (16.0%). The percent of respondents with a master’s as their highest degree increased to 14.0% in 2009, compared to 7.0% on the 1997 survey. Because the distribution of respondents by years since highest degree varied from the SIOP population, we again weighted the responses by this variable and presented both unweighted and weighted results. Comparing weighted medians, we found that primary income for those with doctorates increased for each year in which it has been measured since 2002. However, for those with a master’s as the highest degree, the 2008 and 2009 weighted median incomes were not as high as the 2006 median. The 16.4% lower weighted median income for women than men in 2009 suggests that there continues to be a “wage gap” between women and men, but in the regression equations for academics and practitioners that included gender with other independent variables, gender was not statistically significant (p < .05). This is consistent with findings from the 2001 and 2006 surveys (gender was significant in the regression equations in the 1998 and 2003 surveys). According to regression equation results for practitioners, such factors as employer sector, status as an owner, hours worked per week, number supervised, location, and job level were significant. According to regression equation results for academics, type of academic department, highest degree offered, job level, number supervised, tenure, years since obtaining one’s highest degree, hours worked per week, years worked for one’s primary employer, and SIOP membership status were significant.