Education and Training: College
Salary: Median—$61,769 per year
Employment Outlook: Excellent
Definition and Nature of the Work
Organization development is usually considered to be a specialized branch of management consulting. Organizational developers help corporate clients plan and implement programs to increase their organization's efficiency. They also help clients institute policies that enable their organizations to evolve continually to meet new business challenges. As more businesses opt to change their organizational structures, and as the use of management consultants in general grows more widespread, the demand for organizational developers will also grow.
A corporation hires an organizational developer when it suffers from inefficiency or needs help identifying personnel needs. Like other management consultants, organizational developers spend time analyzing a business's structure. They then formulate a report identifying ways to improve the corporation's performance through reorganization or through the redefinition of specific employees' roles. In general, organizational developers focus on improving goal setting, communication, and cross-departmental cooperation, as well as clarifying roles within the corporation. The ultimate goal usually is to improve professional relationships within the organization: between managers and staff, within teams, and across department lines. Organizational developers often recommend, design, and implement corporate education programs intended to help managers and employees develop productive professional relationships.
Organizational developers often work for independent consulting firms. Many large corporations hire organizational developer specialists as permanent employees who, most often, work within the human resources department.
Education and Training Requirements
Organizational developers need specialized training, and they almost always have at least a bachelor's degree. Many organizational developers have advanced degrees in business administration and/or psychology.
Recommended courses of study include business, finance, economics, and psychology. People interested in becoming organizational developers should study current management and leadership theory, along with principles of business organization. Organizational developers also need training in scientific survey methodology.
Getting the Job
Candidates for jobs in organizational development should apply directly to consulting firms or corporations looking to fill positions. Organizational development jobs with corporations often are advertised within a human resources department. In addition to education and training pertinent to organizational development, successful candidates must demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team. They must also have an inquisitive mind and persistence.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
In their first years of employment, organizational developers usually work long hours on relatively low-level tasks, such as data entry or interview transcriptions.
With three to seven years of experience, organizational developers' responsibilities expand to include direct client contact, employee and manager interviews, project analysis, the writing of reports, and, eventually, project management. Most organizational developers with ten or more years of experience hold managerial positions within the organization for which they work. Organizational developers not interested in management jobs can often use their experience to find employment as another type of management consultant, such as an efficiency expert or continuing education specialist.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the management consulting field is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. Competition for the jobs will be keen.
Organizational developers work in clean, well-lighted offices. In entry-level positions they often work long hours at dull, repetitive tasks. Organizational developers who have direct client contact must be tactful and able to elicit honest information from employees. The nature of organizational development consulting requires that organizational developers work well as team members. They must be able to study a specific aspect of an organization, then put their observations into one "big picture," reconciling different interpretations of the organization's problems and agreeing on possible solutions.
Organizational developers on average work more than forty hours per week, especially when preparing reports with a tight deadline. Organizational developers working for consulting firms often must travel or temporarily relocate to service clients.
Where to Go for More Information
Academy of Management
PO Box 3020
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510-8020
Association of Internal Management Consultants
824 Caribbean Ct.
Marco Island, FL 34145
Association of Management Consulting Firms
380 Lexington Ave., Ste. 1700
New York, NY 10168
National Association of Professional Organizers
4700 W. Lake Ave.
Glenview, IL 60025
Earnings and Benefits
Salaries for organizational developers vary according to education and experience. Salary.com estimated the average annual salary for an organizational development specialist was $61,769 in 2006. The median annual salary for management consultants in 2004 was $72,488, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Organizational developers can earn considerably more with advanced education degrees.