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A Comparison of the
Revised Guidelines to the
Careers Study Results


Stephanie C. Payne
Texas A&M University
Joy Oliver
SIOP’s Executive Board recently approved the revised Guidelines for Education and Training in Industrial-Organizational Psychology submitted by the Education & Training (E&T) Committee. A copy of the revised Guidelines is available on the SIOP website (http://www.siop.org/ETguidelines.aspx) and has been submitted to APA for their stamp of approval. A list of competencies included in the revised Guidelines appears in Table 1.
Table 1
Areas of Competence to be Developed in I-O Psychology Programs 
1. Ethical, legal, diversity, and international issues
2. Fields of psychology
3. History and systems of psychology
4. Professional skills (communication, business/research development, consulting, and   
    project-management skills)
5. Research methods
6. Statistical methods/data analysis
7. Attitude theory, measurement, and change
8. Career development
9. Criterion theory and development
10. Groups and teams
11. Human performance
12. Individual assessment
13. Individual differences
14. Job evaluation and compensation
15. Job/task/work analysis, competency modeling, and classification
16. Judgment and decision-making
17. Leadership and management
18. Occupational health and safety
19. Organization development
20. Organization theory
21. Performance appraisal/management
22. Personnel recruitment, selection, and placement
23. Training: theory, delivery, program design, and evaluation
24. Work motivation
25. Consumer behavior
26. Human factors
The process for revising the Guidelines was outlined by the E&T Committee in an article published in the July 2015 issue of TIP (Payne, Morgan, & Bryan, 2015) and in a 2016 SIOP presentation (Payne, Morgan, & Allen, 2016). In preparing the revision to the Guidelines, the SIOP E&T Committee consulted multiple sources, including TIP and Industrial-Organizational Psychologist articles on competencies required in industrial-organizational psychology training and practice.
In a separate but related effort, the SIOP Careers Study survey was conducted by SIOP’s Professional Practice Committee (PPC) in March of 2014 (Zelin, Lider, & Doverspike, 2015). SIOP membership reported competencies required for each of the primary practice areas within I-O psychology (i.e., academia, industry, external consulting, and government). Within each practice area, the PPC used the survey response data to identify the top-10
competencies at each of five proposed career levels (i.e., individual contributor, expert individual contributor, manager, manager of managers, executive) within each practice area. In addition to identifying the top-10 competencies within each practice area, the PPC identified the top five competencies across all career levels within each practice area. Finally, survey participants reported where they acquired proficiency in each competency; the options provided included graduate school, structured training, on-the-job training, or N/A.
In Table 2, we crosswalked the top five competencies for each practice area identified in the Careers Study to the competencies listed in the revised Guidelines. A total of nine different competencies emerged in at least one of the four “Top Five” lists. Oral communication and ethical behavior appeared in all four lists. Integrity appeared in three lists and written communication appeared in two lists. In addition, we highlight the percentage of Careers Study survey respondents who indicated that they developed proficiency in the competency in graduate school. This further conveys the extent to which the general competencies in the Guidelines are important to the individual contributor career level (entry point) within each practice area.

Table 2
Crosswalk of Top Five Competencies From Careers Study for Each Practice Area With Guidelines’ Competencies

Top 5 Competencies in Careers Study by Practice Area

(% of individual contributor respondents reporting they gained proficiency in graduate school)

Competencies From the Guidelines





Written communication 79%


Written communication 67%

4. Professional skills (which include communication skills)

Oral communication 60%

Oral communication 63%

Oral communication 52%

Oral communication 33%

4. Professional skills (which include communication skills)

Research ability 91%


5. Research methods

Integrity 41%

Integrity 38%


Integrity 0%

1. Ethical, legal, diversity, and international issues

Ethical behavior 56%

Ethical behavior 44%

Ethical behavior 45%

Ethical behavior 33%

1. Ethical, legal, diversity, and international issues


Critical thinking 69%


Critical thinking 67%



Interpersonal skills 29%


1. Ethical, legal, diversity, and international issues

4. Professional skills (which include communication skills)


Accountability 43%


4. Professional skills (which include project-management skills)


Trustworthiness 34%


1. Ethical and legal issues

Three of the six (#1, 4, and 5) general knowledge and skill competencies in the revised Guidelines overlap with the 8 of the 9 “top 5” competencies from the Careers Study. The one competency that is not explicitly identified in the revised Guidelines is Critical Thinking which has been defined as “using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems” (O*NET, 2016). This competency was identified as particularly important to working in consulting and government with a considerable percentage of Careers Study respondents indicating they gained proficiency on this competency in graduate school. We suspect that in learning how to conduct rigorous research studies and about previous research on the core topic areas, graduate students become critical consumers of research studies; however, it may be useful to identify critical thinking skills more explicitly in the next revision of the Guidelines.

For the most part, Careers Study survey respondents indicated that they gained proficiency in graduate school in the competencies comprised within Professional Skills (e.g., oral and written communication skills). A large majority also indicated that they gained proficiency in Research Methods in graduate school. A smaller percentage of survey participants indicated that they gained proficiency in graduate school in Ethical, Legal, Diversity, and International Issues. Respondents tended to report learning about these issues in other venues like on-the-job training and structured training. As these competencies tend to be more difficult to train (US Merit Systems Protection Board, 2011), this is not surprising.
It may also be worthwhile in the future to explicitly call out the importance of accountability within the project-management skills section of the Professional Skills competency. Overall, there appears to be considerable overlap between the results of the Careers Study and the revised Guidelines.


National Center for O*NET Development. Basic Skills. O*NET OnLine. Retrieved May 23, 2016, from https://www.onetonline.org/find/descriptor/browse/Skills/2.A/
Payne, S. C., Morgan, W. B., & Allen, J. (2016, April). Executive Board invited session: Revised guidelines for education at the master’s and doctoral level. Presentation delivered at the 31st Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Anaheim, CA.
Payne, S. C., Morgan, W. B., & Bryan, L. K. (2015, July). Revision of SIOP’s Guidelines for Education and Training is underway. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 53(1), 167-168.
US Merit Systems Protection Board (2011, February). Making the right connections: Targeting the best competencies for training. Washington, DC: Author.
Zelin, A. Z., Lider, M., & Doverspike, D. (2015, December). SIOP careers study: Executive report. Akron, OH: Center for Organizational Research.