Occupational Psychology – what do you know about it?

For many, Occupational Psychology conjures up work similar to Human Resource Management, and whilst there is some overlap, OP professionals are keen to stress the variety of their job, as I learned at a recent meeting with an OP in Glasgow.

Defining the work as ‘applying the science of psychology to people at work and their environments’, it is also known as: ‘organizational psychology’, ‘work psychology’, ‘business psychology’, ‘I-O (Industrial and Organisational) psychology’ in other countries

The 8 areas covered by Occupational Psychology include:
• Human-Machine Interaction
• Design of Environments at Work: Health & Safety
• Personnel Selection & Assessment
• Performance Appraisal & Career Development
• Counselling & Personal Development
• Training
• Employee Relations and Motivation
• Organisational Development and Change

 Occupational Psychologists work in a variety of different settings including:
• Government Departments eg, DWP, Transport,
• Civil Service Commission, MOD, police service
• Corporations – Ford, BA, Dell
• Consulting practices – broad and specific
• Self-employed – broad and specific
• Universities and business schools

The book ‘Work and Occupational Psychology’ Edited by Rachel Lewis & Lara Zibarras, published by Sage is a valuable text if you’re keen to know more about this area. It’s structured around the 8 core areas of Occupational Psychology to ensure a rounded overview and assumes no prior knowledge – ideal if this is your first look at Occupational Psychology.

To become an Occupational/Business Psychologist you’ll need:
• A BPS accredited undergraduate degree
• A BPS accredited MSc in Occupational Psychology – research the courses via the BPS website
• Two years supervised practice post-MSc
• Relevant experience – in an HR department, business setting, anything which helps you get an understanding of workplace issues. Use our resources to help you find appropriate experience
• Chartership (required to hold title of Occupational Psychologist)
• Continuing professional development (CPD)

Getting in – advice from an Occupational Psychologist

• Be proactive & persistent – make contact with people working in this field – via your networks, LinkedIn, BPS groups etc
look into different areas of the work; consider areas of interest. Read the fascinating case studies of the current committee members of the Division of Occupational Psychologist (DOP), Scotland to see the range of jobs they do, and their different career-routes.
• Be positive and professional in all communication
Start now!

Contact the Division of Occupational Psychologists (DOP) Scotland group

• Find them on Linkedin – look for group ‘Occupational Psychologists in Scotland’ (see my recent post on getting started with LinkedIn if you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile)
DOP website: 
DOP Scotland website:

 Keep up to date: Read
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
OP Matters  (free to Members of  the DOP)
The Occupational Digest Blog (free)

If all this has inspired you to find out more – Read the Occupational Psychology Job profile and a case study of an Edinburgh grad’s experience of this area of work.

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