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maryfrenchwynne

Counseling or Industrial Organizational Psychology?!

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I was hoping for a little advice!! I am a senior psychology major and getting ready to apply for graduate school. I am tied between industrial organizational (I/O) psychology and counseling psychology. For a few years now my plan was counseling. I have a big passion for mental health.  Recently, industrial organizational psychology sparked my interest. The idea of helping companies with employee productivity, job satisfaction and overall health seemed interesting. It seemed like it would be similar to counseling but in a workforce setting. So I started looking more into programs for I/O than counseling.

However I also am finding that a lot of the jobs for I/O psychology involve more management/business skills than psychology. I'm seeing that the tasks of I/O psychologists involve a lot of programming and research. Also, I do not have business experience and I'm afraid that may hurt me in applying for I/O graduate school. 

I have had experience as a crisis counselor and mental health board member so I feel my skills and experience may be better for applying for counseling graduate school. 

What really grabbed my attention for I/O psychology was the expected job growth and bigger average salaries. After researching more, counseling psychology's job growth is about the same. And the salaries aren't much less. 

So I feel like my obvious answer would be to go back towards counseling but I'm still unsure about my decision and wanted to ask for any feedback or advice that anyone may have.
 
Thanks! :)
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Counseling Psychology has its roots in vocational psychology. It is possible to work in positions typically held by I/O Psychologists as a Counseling Psychologist. It is not super common, but it does happen. The upside to choosing Counseling Psychology is it gives you more options employment-wise.  You can practice as a clinician, you can work in academia (professorship), you can conduct research, you can do the work you described, and there are other options as well. Figure out where your passion lies and pursue it, but be aware that increasing your employment options is always advantageous. On a side note, I wouldn't put too much stock in the salary listings you find. So many factors play into earning potential (e.g., region of the country, where and if you practice, years in service, etc.).

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I am in the same situation too!! I was bound to being a mental health counselor but I took a consumer psych class in my junior year and now I'm also interested in psychology in business. Didn't have any business background either so not really sure if that is what I want.

Still struggling about what path to take...

But I'm glad that you got it figured out!

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You don't need a business background to do IO, OB, or consumer psych (i.e., marketing). Most grad students in these areas nowadays are from psychology, so a strong research background is much more desirable than work experience. If you're referring to research-based masters and PhD programs, no work experience is required, but obviously some places take exception to that (i.e., Harvard's OB students all seem to have been in top-tier consulting jobs).

Although salary estimates can be unreliable, the SIOP association does a rigorous salary survey of hundreds (maybe now thousands) of its members across degree type, years of experience, job type, and location for I/O positions. It is very favourable, as is the huge growth in jobs as predicted by the US department of labour and other sources.

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