A specialization within psychology combining statistical analysis, testing theory, and the study of human behavior, psychometrics is the science of measuring psychological factors such as preference, aptitude, and personality.
Psychometricians design tests that collect empirical data and quantify personal traits of individuals, comparing those results across a population. A population may be defined as any group being tested, such as all third graders in a school district, all employees at a factory, everyone taking a college entrance exam, or a sampling of patients in a mental health clinic. In addition to creating tests, some psychometricians also administer the tests to subjects in groups and individually–and analyze the results.
Where do Psychometricians Work?
Psychometricians work in schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, testing companies, the military, social service, and in private psychology practice and research. Private corporations and government agencies such as law enforcement also employ psychometricians. Some work in research, studying test reliability and standardization across different populations and time periods, continually improving the statistical analysis of the results.
All of these industries employ psychometricians and their tests to evaluate cognitive and behavioral attributes of students, potential employees, recruits, managers, and existing employees.
Childhood Development and Education
Psychometrics is used extensively in the study of childhood development. Psychometric tests help teachers, parents, and psychologists identify learning deficiencies and giftedness in preschool and elementary school-aged children. For more information see also childhood developmental psychology. Creativity tests are used to engage young children and to assess their cognitive development and problem-solving abilities. Students are then tested throughout their schooling for aptitude in reading, writing, comprehension and mathematics.
The school psychometrician performs a range of duties. Staying abreast of research in the field and planning for the testing needs of the school or district, adhering to legislative or district requirements for testing, and coordinating these decisions with school administrators are just a few aspects of the job, depending on the psychometrician’s level of experience.
Other school psychometricians work directly with the teachers in the administration of tests, assessment of test results, and in some cases, on developing educational plans for improving test scores.
To work as a psychometrician in a school typically requires certification in the state in which the individual is seeking employment. School psychometricians may work as a testing counselor or guidance counselor in a particular school or for an entire district, at any level from elementary through postsecondary schools or in special education or gifted learning.
Forensic and Military Psychometricians
People accused of crimes will often undergo psychometric testing to determine mental illnesses or behavioral disorders. Psychometricians working in correctional facilities utilize a variety of testing strategies to measure people’s attitudes, motivations and personalities, to determine their fitness to stand trial, their capability to be productive citizens, and to determine the likelihood of incarcerated individuals committing another crime.
Military personnel and recruits are put through different types of psychometric testing to determine the best fit for them in the military and verify positive mental health. Psychometricians design tests for recruits and also develop custom tests for specific applications in the military where psychological testing is required because of highly sensitive information – such as working with nuclear weapons or in espionage.
Corporate and Career Counseling Psychometricians
Corporations commonly use psychometricians to test potential employees to determine personality fit for the company, a factor that is sometimes weighed just as heavily as skill set or experience. Corporations also use psychometricians and tests to evaluate the development needs of current employees and managers in the company.
Career counseling is one of the largest real-world applications of the science of psychometrics. Working for private testing companies, psychometricians design custom tests for individual corporate clients seeking particular information either from an existing group of employees or potential employees, such as those who possesses the proper skills to work in a new department.
Psychometricians also develop customized employee-selection testing and job analysis tools to improve productivity in a workplace. Career rehabilitation counselors also use psychometric interest tests, aptitude tests, and personality tests to try and find new careers for disabled or injured individuals.
Psychometricians work in the areas of marketing, sales, merchandising and consumer research as well. Tests are used to elicit consumer preferences on any number of factors, ranging from whether consumers prefer large packaging to small, female or male spokespersons, or bright colors over subtle hues.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Psychometricians
Substance abuse counselors also use psychometric evaluations to determine people’s motivations, personality traits, and levels of dependency. Behavioral counselors and psychologists working in the criminal justice system employ psychometrics to determine behavioral motivations and thought disorders.
Online Applications for Psychometricians
Today, many psychometricians develop online testing and analysis. Government agencies, school districts, private testing companies, and direct-to-consumer testing businesses are all interested in this type of research, and the application of web-based testing.
What are the Requirements for a Career as Psychometrican?
Those wanting to pursue a career in psychometrics need strong analytical skills. Many practicing psychometricians have a background in clinical, cognitive, or industrial-organizational psychology. Psychometricians, while based in the school of psychology, typically study in the field of statistics as well, including statistical analysis and testing methodology.
Some individuals find employment in psychometrics after completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Opportunities exist for graduates to work in post-graduate research and on university or government research grants. Practical experience in education, testing, administering, and analyzing tests can be gained through research fellowships and externships, and by working or volunteering at schools and clinics.
Most psychometricians possess a master’s degree or doctoral degree in psychology or statistics. The Board of Certified Psychometricians certifies psychometricians and awards the recognized certification for the field – the Certified Specialist in Psychometry (CSP).
Many states require additional licensing to practice, as well as additional licensure and accreditation to practice as a licensed psychologist.
Salaries for psychologists are typically higher working for private companies developing testing for commercial clients than for those working for public school systems. However, with the increased emphasis on testing and legislation requiring testing in schools, demand for psychometricians continues to grow.
In fact, psychometrics is a growing field of psychology with opportunity for graduates to apply their skills in a variety of settings. Its widespread application makes psychometrics one of the fastest growing specializations in the field of psychology.
In order to begin a career in psychometrics, request information from psychology schools. Also, learn more about the psychologist licensing process, and what the requirements for licensure are by clicking here: psychologist licensure.