Industrial Psychologist

Industrial psychologists study human behaviour in the work environment and are especially concerned with the adaptation and development of employees.

They are appointed by large organisations to fulfil the general industrial psychology function of the organisation, which involves the study of organisation -employee interfaces and subsequently applying psychological principles so as to maximise satisfaction and productivity in the work environment.

Their responsibilities can include:

Recruitment: this involves the recruitment, selection and placement of the best candidate for the position, in the organisation. Effective selection processes can save the organisation unnecessary personnel expenses. Placing is done on the basis of candidates’ personality profiles, experience, personal preferences, abilities, qualifications and the needs of the organisation. Industrial psychologists use psychometric tests, interviews and assessment centres as aids in the selection process.

Training: all organisations need personnel who are fully qualified to complete their work successfully. Industrial psychologists may be involved with training newcomers to the organisation to be competent and to fill a specific position. They may also see to it that members undergo sufficient training for promotion to management or positions requiring greater responsibility.

Career development: Industrial psychologists assist employees with the planning and development of their careers.

Job design and analysis: The design of the structure and content of jobs can have an enormous influence on the productivity, motivation and morale of employees. Thus industrial psychologists are tasked to ensure the complete and accurate analysis and design of all jobs within the organisation.

Organisation development: Industrial psychologists identify personnel and system deficiencies and correct the problems, thus ensuring continuous development and renewal within the organisation.

Personnel administration: including payment of wages and the handling of leave and transfers in such a way that employees remain motivated to be productive in their work environment.

Labour relations: Labour relations have a tremendous influence on the organisation as well as the economy in general. In many cases, it is the responsibility of industrial psychologists to defuse and prevent labour unrest.

Ergonomics: Industrial psychologists need to ensure that the physical work environment is safe and pleasant for employees to do their work and be productive.

Considering that wages and salaries are one of the highest expenditures within a company, industrial psychologists need to ensure that minimum loss occurs due to failure of personnel deployment. They must be sensitive to the interests and needs of employees, as well as management.

Personal Requirements

  • sincere interest in people
  • able to balance the interests of employees and the organisation
  • able to work on inter-personal levels with a large spectrum of people
  • mature, with strong sense of responsibility

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: No compulsory subjects
Recommended subjects: Business Economics, Economics, History
Pass in Matric with a Bachelor's pass
Check the university admission requirements.

What to Study

Degree: BCom, BA or BSc - Industrial Psychology - most universities, including UNISA, NWU, US, UFS, UFH.

Post-graduate studies: essential

Training consists of five years academic training at a university and an internship of twelve months at an approved organisation. The minimum qualification required for registration at the Health Professions Council as an industrial psychologist, is a masters degree in Industrial Psychology.

Consult the HPCSA website for the most up-to-date information relating to accredited qualifications and registration requirements. This information can be found in the relevant sections under the Professional Board of Psychology.



  • large companies and organisations
  • self-employment, with enough experience and initiative, can set up own consultancy practice

Further Information

Psychological Society of South Africa (PSSA)
Oakhurst Office Park, North Wing
Ground Floor
13 St Andrews Road, Parktown, 2193
Tel: (011) 486-3322

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) 
(553) of Hamilton and
Madiba Streets,
Arcadia, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 338-9300

Getting Started

  • do volunteer work at a community centre, church, welfare organisation, youth organisation
  • if possible, arrange to speak to an industrial psychologist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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