Motivational Psychologist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 17, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a motivational psychologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education, licensure and job possibilities to determine if this is the career for you.

A motivational psychologist works with individuals and groups, such as departments within corporations, to help enhance motivation, often towards a specific goal. Since these professionals provide clinical services, both a Ph.D. and state licensure are required. However motivational psychologists working exclusively within an organization or business may only need a master's degree.

Essential Information

Motivational psychologists specialize in the application of behavioral theories of inspiration and incentive. Motivational psychology has been applied to sports, business and education. A master's degree in psychology may be sufficient for candidates seeking employment in the corporate arena, but a Ph.D. is required for the state licensure necessary to see and treat patients.

Required Education Master's degree in psychology for corporate work; Ph.D. if licensure is desired
Licensure State-mandated, requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 12% for all psychologists*
Mean Annual Salary (2018) $100,770 for all psychologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Motivational Psychologist

Motivational psychologists work for various organizations, such as schools, athletic teams and corporations. They help clients to identify incentives needed in order to increase productivity, satisfaction and achievement.

Motivational psychologists may assist athletes by showing them how to discover a healthy level of self-determination, and set realistic goals that minimize performance anxiety. Psychologists may work with teachers to develop inspirational curriculum, and use praise or rewards to encourage student learning. In the business sector, motivational psychologists may introduce incentives that promote optimum employee output.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report data specifically for motivational psychologists, it does predict that psychologists, the group in which motivational psychologists belong, will see an employment growth much faster than the average through 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that professional in the 90th percentile or higher earned $127,510 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $41,220 or less per year.

Job Duties

Specific tasks vary due to diverse work settings. Motivational psychologists may assist their clients or students by:

  • Analyzing previous and current organizational behavior
  • Discovering ways in which motivation is lacking
  • Creating strategies and solutions to improve performance
  • Advising on ways to achieve specific goals

Licensure and Educational Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a master's degree may qualify individuals to work as organizational psychologists for businesses ( However, the BLS reports that a doctoral degree is usually required for mandatory state licensure to provide psychological services to patients, particularly in schools.

Aspiring motivational psychologists may consider earning a doctorate in sport and exercise psychology, social-organizational psychology, organizational behavior or educational psychology. Organizational behavior classes might introduce theories of group leadership and collective action. Sport psychology and educational psychology programs may focus on goal setting and creating engaging materials to enhance motivation in athletes and students.

Graduate degrees may be obtained in 5-7 years, and some programs may offer internship or clinical opportunities. According to the BLS, some states require candidates for licensure to participate in internships and obtain a requisite amount of work hours before sitting for a state licensing exam.

A motivational psychologist can help both groups and individuals with issues related to productivity, performance and goal achievement. They work in a variety of settings, including corporations, organizations, schools, and with athletic teams and individual athletes.

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