What is Occupational Health Psychology?

Occupational Health Psychology, also known as OHP, is an interdisciplinary study in the field of psychology where much of the emphasis is placed on the physical and mental health of workers within organizations. Professionals in the OHP discipline will use methods that are taught in applied psychology coursework to solve some of the practical problems that employees may face in their day-to-day professional life.

At face value, the OHP discipline is a combination of teachings from organizational psychology as well as health psychology. The main focus of psychologists within this field is to identify occupational factors that can increase the likelihood of injury, distress, or contracting diseases. The effects of any work-related factors that are identified and then addressed can affect an employee’s health and their family’s health as well.

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Where Do Occupational Health Psychologists Work?

There is a variety of different types of positions that Occupational Health majors can pursue positions. According to the American Psychological Association, a majority of graduates who study to become occupational health psychologists will gain experience in the industry and then follow a tenure-track to work in an academic setting. This is where much of the research regarding the implications of stressors at work is conducted.

In addition to research facilities and college classrooms, psychologists within the discipline can work in public institutions like the Department of Labor or in state-level agencies with agencies like the Safety and Health Assessment Department. These psychologists review the employee assistance programs and push for more public awareness programs.

In private industry settings, occupational health psychologists could work directly for insurance companies assessing the value of a worker’s compensation claim or for an organization who is trying to make their office a safer place. Some OHP’s are employees of the organization and others work as consultants.

What is the Job Outlook For Occupational Health Psychologists?

The number of hours that the average American works per week have risen over the last few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker spends 7.99 hours at work on a weekday and additional hours on the weekend. This is a rise and the rise in the attention focused on work is attributed to more work-related illnesses and diseases.

The increase in occupational health issues has led to an increased demand for therapists and psychologists within this specialty area. Companies want to work with professionals who can make their employees more productive and the government agencies want to tackle the problem before it becomes an epidemic. While demand is high, professional in organizational psychology will face more competition because of the number of qualified professionals seeking jobs.

How Much Does the Average OCP make?

OHP is a fairly new field. This is why the salaries of psychologists within the discipline earn dramatically different salaries. Upon graduation, according to the American Psychological Association, OHPs will earn around $55,000 if they seek a position as an assistant professor. The pay rises to over $66,000 when the professional becomes an associate professor. Psychologists who work in the private sector earn an average of $120,000 per year.

While it is a growing field of work that’s fairly new, there are a large supply occupational health professionals who have enrolled in or completed school. Anyone who is interested in succeeding in this line of work needs to complete an accredited occupational health psychology program with a huge emphasis on quantitative research methods so that they will have more of an advantage in research settings.