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  • Sarah Tian

Should I Go into Academia or Industry? 8 Factors To Consider for I/O Psychology Doctoral Students

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

As an Industrial/Organizational Psychology doctoral student, the question that is bound to come up is "Should I go into academia or industry?".

Although personally I have always leaned towards going into industry, I would be lying if I told you that pursuing the academic route has never crossed my mind. is a summary of my research on the differences of pursuing the two routes in terms of the following 8 factors that will hopefully help you make a decision:

💡 1. Income

💡 2. Location

💡 3. Job security

💡 4. Other perks

💡 5. Job Market

💡 6. Nature of the work

💡 7. Autonomy

💡 8. Work-life balance

This article by no means persuades you to go one way or the other. It merely lays out the facts accumulated from recent studies and my experiences talking to I/O PhD students over the years.

I hope to help you make a more informed decision as you continue to ponder this important question. Maybe you will have an answer after reading this article.

Source: 2019 SIOP Income & Employment Report

💡 1. Income

One clear difference between going to industry versus academia is income.

According to the 2019 SIOP Income Survey, IOs working as practitioners (median income of $122,143 ) tend to have around 11% higher incomes than those working as academics ($109,915).

As can be seen below, overall IOs who go into practice earn more than those who go into academia at all stages of their careers.

Source: 2019 SIOP Income & Employment Report

Source: 2019 SIOP Income & Employment Report

In general, faculty salaries in the U.S. have been relatively stagnant over the years. According to the American Association of University Professors' (AAUP) 2019-20 Faculty Compensation Survey, faculty salaries have barely moved over the past four years.

In fact, average salaries for full-time faculty in U.S. college and university fell by almost 0.5% after adjusting for inflation in the 2020–21 academic year according to the 2020-21 AAUP survey.

In general, faculty's salaries are not expected to increase much from year to year, unless you "job hop".

Source: American Association of University Professors’ 2019-20 Faculty Compensation Survey

You can see the salary levels for different types of academic roles below:

Source: 2019 SIOP Income & Employment Report

Within academia, salaries differ depending on the department (business/psychology/others) and type of institution (doctoral/master's/bachelor's).


In particular, Business/management departments pay significantly more than Psychology and other departments. According to SIOP Income Survey, I-Os in Business/management departments tend to have median income of $160,000, compared to those working in psychology departments with median income of $95,000.

Source: 2019 SIOP Income & Employment Report

Type of Academic Institution

Income is also higher for doctorate academic institutions compared with master's and bachelor's only institutions.