I-O Career Paths in Industry
The career paths for industry were found to have five job levels (see figure above). Employees are often hired as an individual contributor and can advance as an individual contributor in a non-management track, or they can pursue a management track where they are responsible for supervising others within the organization. However, there is tremendous variability in the career levels available and the nature of work (e.g., specialist vs generalist).
Internal I-O Psychologists can usually pursue a specialist role (typically located within an HR department) focusing within one specific I-O related area (e.g., selection, training, or talent management); or a generalist role (often located outside of HR departments in organizations that typically employ few I-O Psychologists overall) working across multiple I-O related areas (e.g., selection, training, and talent management), most often with multiple departments or client groups external to HR (e.g., Finance).
Roughly 20% of the interviewees in this study worked in external consulting firms prior to obtaining an industry position. This experience helped the interviewees to:
- Think through problems more quickly because they had experienced how different problems were solved in a variety of other organizations;
- Have the opportunity to do projects earlier in their careers than if they had gone straight to working within an industry;
- Know what questions to ask their internal clients when discussing projects; and
- Develop specialty skills that may not have developed in a small internal company that doesn’t have specialist roles.