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TheIndustrialClinician

Clinical Or I/O Psychology?

8 posts in this topic

I am entering my final year of undergraduate psychology here in Canada and although I always believed I would know what I wanted to do by now, I am still completely torn between clinical psychology and industrial/organizational psychology :wacko:. I love helping people, especially when that help is greatly needed, but I fear that if I attempt to go the clinical route and it doesn't work out (i.e., I do not get accepted anywhere) I will end up wasting a few years of my life that I could have been chipping away at a MA/PhD in I/O psychology. I would say I probably find clinical to be more interesting than I/O (although I/O is pretty cool), but I have heard that I/O psychologists can make a very good living here in Canada.. Does anyone know if this is true? Something that really scares me about clinical is the fact that one has to write both the subject and general GRE tests... These kinds of tests scare me because I have a few learning disabilities that make them a living hell for me lol. Through three years of undergraduate, my GPA is around 3.9, I started getting some experience helping profs in the labs last year and I'm hoping to get more this year, and I will be able to get awesome LORs. I was wondering if someone(s) could give me their opinion on:

 

1.) Will my grades be high enough to make me competitive for MA/PhD programs in Canada for industrial or clinical?

2.) What would you do to try and figure out whether you should do clinical or I/O? 

3.) Are the GRE's as scary as they sound... 

4.) How is the pay for a clinical psychologist vs. an I/O psychologist? To be honest, I've never concerned myself much with money or salaries, but I think it would be nice to know always (because I don't always trust what I read online). 

 

Thanks to everyone who read this, :) 

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I have been sort of wondering about a lot of these things too, lol. 

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Getting into IO, at least at the PhD level, is not necessarily easier than clinical.  I applied to both types of PhD programs and got into clinical; was not even accepted into the IO MA program in lieu of the doctoral program. Though to add context: my most recent experience and posters/pubs were directly related to the clinical programs I got into. I did have significant experience in HR in the past, but that's a few years ago now. The IO admissions committee was probably confused about my flip flop (HR, clinical, HR again, what is she thinking?), but I wanted to try anyway! 

To answer your Q #2, real-life work experience is the best way to get an idea of what you want to do.  Have you not done any internships or worked in labs by now?  If not, why not try to find a full-time corporate HR/IO role, while simultaneously volunteering in a lab or clinic?  Also try to reach out to each of these types of psychologists and ask them about their day-to-day.  

To answer Q #4, IO is definitely the financially more secure and potentially lucrative route to go.  That is actually why I decided to apply to an IO program along with clinical... I missed my salary!  I quit my HR job years ago to pursue my old dream of getting into clinical, but after one year of no pay as a clinical research intern, and then two years of meager wages as a research assistant.. I realized how fiscally absurd this path is.  I feel like I'm managing a circus as an RA, for free.  So, yes, I'm still going into a clinical PhD program because I worked hard for it, gave up many things, and already got in.  But if I had researched more, talked to more people, I would've thought twice about giving up IO for clinical! 

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7 hours ago, eveline said:

Getting into IO, at least at the PhD level, is not necessarily easier than clinical.  I applied to both types of PhD programs and got into clinical; was not even accepted into the IO MA program in lieu of the doctoral program. Though to add context: my most recent experience and posters/pubs were directly related to the clinical programs I got into. I did have significant experience in HR in the past, but that's a few years ago now. The IO admissions committee was probably confused about my flip flop (HR, clinical, HR again, what is she thinking?), but I wanted to try anyway! 

To answer your Q #2, real-life work experience is the best way to get an idea of what you want to do.  Have you not done any internships or worked in labs by now?  If not, why not try to find a full-time corporate HR/IO role, while simultaneously volunteering in a lab or clinic?  Also try to reach out to each of these types of psychologists and ask them about their day-to-day.  

To answer Q #4, IO is definitely the financially more secure and potentially lucrative route to go.  That is actually why I decided to apply to an IO program along with clinical... I missed my salary!  I quit my HR job years ago to pursue my old dream of getting into clinical, but after one year of no pay as a clinical research intern, and then two years of meager wages as a research assistant.. I realized how fiscally absurd this path is.  I feel like I'm managing a circus as an RA, for free.  So, yes, I'm still going into a clinical PhD program because I worked hard for it, gave up many things, and already got in.  But if I had researched more, talked to more people, I would've thought twice about giving up IO for clinical! 

what kind of jobs can i get with Industrial psychology? is it easy to find jobs with I/O psych?

what about social psych?

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3 hours ago, elemosynarical said:

what kind of jobs can i get with Industrial psychology? is it easy to find jobs with I/O psych?

what about social psych?

Look at job sites (Indeed, etc.) with the keywords industrial or I/O psychology and that will give you a good idea of the types of jobs available. 

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, elemosynarical said:

what kind of jobs can i get with Industrial psychology? is it easy to find jobs with I/O psych?

what about social psych?

Second what @mattis said. A lot of strategic/analytic HR roles are basically utilizing the IO skill set (talent analytics, compensation analyst, strategic hr business partner, hr operations, etc).  A plus is that HR is a department that ANY and every industry has.  So w/ that in mind, it's definitely easier to find a job compared to other areas of psychology, like clinical, developmental, etc.  

Someone with a social psych bg could also probably have a shot at IO; just make sure you gain a good foundation in statistics. But it may be harder to get a foot in the door with a CV that says social psych as opposed to IO.  It's just easier for a resume screener to call back someone with an IO degree, a more obviously related degree than social. 

@TheIndustrialClinician something else I thought of -- You should also make sure you can handle working in a "corporate culture" environment, which is very different from the world of academia and hospitals.  In my experience, corporate was more stressful, fast-paced, appearances/presentation were more important, your personality/attitude had to always be "on it", you have to be okay with constant stimuli working in open-office or cubicle spaces.  On the other hand, clinical research is slower (though still stressful when getting out posters/pubs with deadlines) and I've always worked in an actual office with not too many people.  Again, this is just my personal experience, from working in a few different industry jobs and ~3 research labs/hospitals.  The decrease in pace and constant stimuli were factors in my "switch" to clinical. 

Edited by eveline

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Should also prob mention that my industry jobs were in NYC!  Might be slower paced in other locales.  

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Posted (edited)

Just saw you posted a thread! 

I can't really help you with your choice or the contrast between I/O and clinical, as I was never interested in I/O, but I can help you with your questions regarding clinical psychology. But if you're hesitating, why not apply to both? I know it can be a lot of work, and much research and writing to do, but if you do not want to waste time, that is the way to go. Once April comes, you will have to make a choice, but maybe by them you will have a better idea of what you're getting into. You might also get a better idea, as it was mentioned, by talking to current grad students in both I/O and clinical, as well as talking to your supervisors about this (or your professors). Don't be shy to ask for their opinions :) 

I think your grades are fairly competitive for a clinical program, depending on the school again, but you should not encounter many problems on that front. What I think you do need is solid research experience. Have you been involved in a project, or lead one? (like a honours thesis, or an independent research project class?). Did you get the chance to have a poster presentation, or a paper? I think that research experience can be even more important than GPA in an application to the clinical program, it can really be a deal breaker. Most schools require you to have an honours degree, and if not, to have done an equivalent amount of research experience as an honours student would (usually it means having participated in research as part of a class). Most people applying to clinical have an honours degree, or LOTS of research experience... Since it sounds like you will be having some time off, you should definitely look into ways to get involved with research as a research assistant or coordinator.

The second important thing in your application is research fit with a potential supervisor. I think this made all the difference in my application, at least. You should search the schools you're interested in applying to, their faculty, and the kind of research they do. What are you interested in, and do you have any ideas for potential research projects you could undertake with this supervisor? You also need to contact the people you're interested in working with, see if they will be accepting students next year, and ask whether you could meet them to talk about it (via Skype, or in person if that's doable). Believe it or not, this part is extremely important. 

Finally, don't sweat about the GRE's! They're not so bad if you prepare for them AND they do not count much in terms of how successful your application is. This is the case in Canada, in my experience. I know it can seem like people are stressing out about it a lot on this forum, but that's because most of the threads and posts on this forum are from US students (where the GRE score matters way more in the final decision regarding an application). Your preparation for the general GRE doesn't need to be intense, but it needs to be thorough. Find some prep books. Take your time and study it a little every day. And even if you don't get stellar marks on some aspect of it, it doesn't matter that much! If everything else in your application, including especially the rapport with a potential supervisor, your past research experience, your research interests and their fit to those of your supervisor, are promising and look very good, you're pretty much 80-90% set. Final note on the GRE, many many schools in Canada do not require the special topics GRE (I have not taken it!!!!). I think only a couple of schools in Toronto (UofT and York?) require it... I was so angry at that requirement I just didn't bother applying there! It's a very useless requirement in my opinion, just as the whole GRE thing is, but ESPECIALLY the topics GRE. Make sure you look that up, and if you have no interest in going to those schools in clinical psychology, then don't do the topics GRE. Simple. Even if a school says they "recommend it", from my experience, it makes no difference whether you have it or not... It is mostly useful to the school if you didn't do your undergrad in psych, but that clearly doesn't apply to you. 

Anyway, hope this helps! I can add much more here and expand, but let me know if you have any questions or comments! This post is already getting way too long :P 

Edited by Neposydko

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