What Is Psychometrics?
In our world obsessed with constant competition, placement, and proper development, testing has becoming a very common procedure. We have tests designed to determine how intelligent we are, as well as tests that group students together in classes that are within their mental capacity. We also have tests that tell us which jobs would be best for us, and we even have tests that claim to reveal our personalities.
Chances are you've encountered at least one of these types of tests at some point in your life, but have you ever wondered where these tests come from and who designs them?
Psychometrics is the science of measuring people's mental capacities and thought processes through a systemized manner. In other words, it’s a way to create tests to determine how smart we are or what are personalities are like.
Psychometricians are the scientists behind those interesting - and sometimes nerve wracking - aptitude and personality tests. The tests that these professionals create help to better understand how the mind works. They are able to measure the how a mind functions and how it compares to other groups of people.
Alfred Binet was one of the first and most recognizable people to come up with the idea of a workable intelligence scale. He worked to help create the Binet-Simon Intelligence test in 1908, which was one of the first tests used to measure a person's intelligence. Later, in 1916, this test was improved upon by Lewis Terman, a professor at Stanford University, and it was called the Stanford-Binet Intelligence (IQ) Test.
Throughout the years, the original intelligence test has been changed slightly and adapted throughout the years. Today, this test is still used to measure a person's IQ, or how smart he is compared to his peers. Other tests have also been created, which can measure everything from a person's personality traits to what type of career he would excel at.
What Types of Tests Do Psychometricians Create?
In general, there are two main types of tests that psychometricians might help to create.
The first types of tests are aptitude tests. These measure people's knowledge and reasoning in areas such as language, mathematics, patterns, and spatial awareness. After a person takes an aptitude test, his raw score is figured based on how many answers he got right and wrong. This raw score can then be examined next to the raw scores of other individuals in a certain group of people. A person's raw score from an IQ test, for instance, can be compared to the raw scores of others in his age group. The average IQ for most age groups is usually between 90 and 110.
Personality tests might also be created by psychometricians. As their name suggests, these types of tests help measure and reveal certain parts of a person's personality. Questions on these types of tests usually ask about certain situations, and how a person feels about them or would handle them. Unlike aptitude tests, there are no right or wrong answers on these tests. Rather the answers that a person gives are compared to certain personality traits, and the dominate trait are picked out and revealed.
What Does a Psychometrician Do?
Research is a large part of a psychometrician career. These professionals will spend a great deal of time gathering data and calculating statistics from that data. Psychometricians are also responsible for determining the reliability of certain tests as well.
Psychometricians also design and create tests that collect data used to measure mental capacity and thought processes. When creating these types of tests, psychometricians will first decide which format to use for each test. This can include multiple choice questions, short answer questions, or true and false questions. Other aspects of the tests will also be decided, such as the number of questions, the difficulty level of the questions, and the rime limits for the tests
After the tests are created, psychometricians might also administer the tests, since they are familiar with them and understand how they work and how they should be administered.
Once the tests have been completed by the test takers, psychometricians will then score them. The results of the tests can be compiled into reports or they can be compared to other groups of test takers. For instance, let's say someone takes an IQ test and scores 140. By comparing that score to the scores of other people in the same age group, a psychometrician would be able to deduce that that person is highly intelligent.
Evaluating current tests and testing systems to ensure accuracy might also be in a psychometrician's job description. After determining the accuracy of tests, these professionals might make changes that will make them more accurate or effective.
Where Does a Psychometrician Work?
Psychometricians might work at research facilities, testing companies, and universities, performing research and creating tests.
Hospitals, mental health clinics, social service offices, and private psychological practices might also hire psychometricians. Companies and corporations also seek the expertise of psychometricians to create and administer aptitude and competency tests, as do many public and private schools.
The military uses tests created by psychometricians to test the intelligence and mental stability of new recruits, and criminal justice facilities also use similar tests to research the mental state of criminals and inmates.
What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Psychometrician?
It may be difficult to find schools that offer undergraduate degree programs in psychometrics. Therefore, many individuals who are starting a career in this field will earn degrees in closely related areas, such as psychology or statistics.
|School Programs||Average Education Length||Choosing Online or Campus|
|1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree||View Programs||4 Years||Online or Campus|
|2. Earn A Master's Degree||View Programs||2 Additional Years||Online or Campus|
|3. Earn a PHD or PsyD||View Programs||2-4 Additional Years||Online or Campus|
Graduate degrees in psychometrics, psychology, statistics, or testing methodology can also be helpful when pursuing a career in psychometrics.
Find schools in your area that offer Master's Programs and Doctoral Programs in this degree field. Read more about psychometrics degrees.
What Is the Median Salary of a Psychometrician?
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide median salary figures for psychometricians, it does highlight the median salary for statisticians as of May 2019: $91,160. This broad category includes all professions related to statistical tracking and analysis, including biostatisticians and psychometricians.
Some of the largest industries in which psychometricians worked during this time included pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, where the average salary was $107,450, followed by scientific research and development services, at $106,760, and management, scientific and technical consulting services, at $99,500.
|Influences in Psychometrics|
Employment Outlook & Career Guidance for Psychometricians
Specializing in the science, study, and measurement of behavior, psychometricians are well-versed in the division of psychology responsible for designing the various ways one can access and determine the personality traits, intelligence, emotion, and skills of an individual. Professionals with a background in psychometrics become valued team members in a wide range of job environments, including human resource offices, schools, and correctional facilities.
What Type of Positions Can a Psychometrician Hold?
Psychometricians can find work in many different fields and job environments, including market research, hospitals, mental health clinics, large corporations, software development companies, and educational settings. All of these potential employers benefit from hiring a professional who is trained to measure psychological responses.
The psychometrics field primarily concentrates on the following two job titles, which vary in terms of levels of responsibility:
(1) A psychometrist typically works under the guidance of clinical psychologists and neuropsychologists administering psychological tests instead of influencing the design of these tests. In order to become a psychometrist, you will almost certainly need an undergraduate degree, although it doesn’t necessarily need to be in psychology or a related field.
Depending on the employer and work environment, a tiered system is often used by various employers to categorize the different kinds of positions available to a psychometrist. Those with increased responsibilities (such as training junior psychometrists) tend to occupy a senior position and may hold a title such as Lead Psychometrist.
(2) A psychometrician usually has obtained an advanced degree – either a Master’s degree or a PhD – and is qualified to assume higher-paying positions with a higher level of responsibility, such as teaching at a university. In addition to designing, developing, and evaluating test and examination approaches, psychometricians also qualify for the following specific positions and duties:
- Conducting pilot trials for test methods and analyzing data to determine the success of testing methods at a college or university.
- Becoming a director of a psychometrics program, like the Assessment Program at the American Institutes of Research (AIR).
- Conducting ongoing statistical research at a company to maintain, increase, and protect the scientific validity of their products and services.
- Creating, scoring, monitoring, and validating licensing and certification exams for a professional accountant certification association.
- Working for testing companies on the federal, state, or local government level.
- Assuming the role of a consultant or advisor to management and educational directors.
- Training and overseeing the education of aspiring psychometricians.
- Teaching Quantitative Psychology or Psychometrics courses at the university level.
"Psychometricians are legal in most states. They are currently not legal in NY, so [there are] no jobs there."
– Chris Morrison, Ph.D., ABPP, President of New York State Association of Neuropsychology
"I currently work in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a major cancer hospital and university-affiliated academic research institution in Toronto, Canada. I have conducted research into the design and development of new measures and constructs to characterize dimensions of quality of life near the end of life that have been neglected. This is useful to the evaluation of clinical treatments targeting patients with advanced cancer." – Christopher Lo, PhD, Research Scientist; Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Princess Margaret Hospital
Learn more about how to become a psychometrician.
Ways for Psychometricians to Increase Desirability as a Job Candidate
A psychometrician that is more visible in the field tends to have a better chance catching the eye of potential employers. Attending local psychology-related events is one way to network with the companies, businesses, and health care institutions most likely to hire a psychometrician.
Joining a professional organization, like the Psychometric Society, can also help a psychometrician stand out from other job candidates.
Professional certification also displays a psychometrician's commitment to the field and can set them apart from other applicants. The Certified Specialist in Psychometry credential is available to those who have obtained at least a Bachelor's degree and 3,000 hours of experience in the field; or a Master's degree or PhD with 2,000 hours of experience.
Learn more about online psychometrics degrees.
Attributes That Employers Typically Look for When Hiring a Psychometrician
- Experience in quantitative measurement and statistics.
- A good eye for detail and sharp analytic skills.
- Aptitude in mathematics.
- The ability to work as part of a team.
- Research experience.
- Excellent communication skills.
- The ability to effectively explain complicated ideas.
- The ability to conduct high-level interaction with a range of corporate team members, consultants, clients, consulting psychologists, and other employees.
"A vital skill is being able to speak to content experts about how measurement issues may apply to their field in relatively non-technical language."
– Christopher Lo, PhD
Ways for a Psychometrician to Increase His/Her Salary
Since industrial-organizational psychology is closely related to psychometrics, going back to school to complete coursework related to the field can expand the number of options available to a psychometrician looking to increase his or her salary.
"Being able to show some impact of one's work would be key, including traditional publications or even summary reports on the final outcome and uses of one's measurement efforts"
– Christopher Lo, PhD
Contributing to online journals and other publications also demonstrates to employers a psychometrician's desire to thrive, learn, and grow within the field.
Networking Opportunities and Organizations
Attending a targeted conference not only provides an excellent opportunity to connect with other psychometricians, but also facilitates networking between professionals in related fields. This is generally achieved by participating in various events, such as meet-and-greet socials, breakfast buffets, workshops, and roundtable discussions.
Morrison cites the National Association of Psychometrists (NAP) as an especially helpful resource for the psychometrics field that allows professionals to gain an edge within the industry. Every year, NAP hosts a conference that rotates locations across the United States and Canada with past events held in Puerto Rico, San Diego, Nashville, New Orleans, and Vancouver.
Developing expertise in a content area where one can easily apply his or her current psychometric knowledge is another way to build a starting point for the best networking opportunities to flourish outside of the field.
"Network with colleagues (mostly non-psychometricians) in the area concerning the relevance of [your] work to their own research, which is often more clinically focused."
– Christopher Lo, PhD
In addition to NAP, organizations that provide additional networking opportunities, as well as employment listings for psychometricians include:
- International Neuropsychological Society (INS)
- American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN)
- American College of Professional Neuropsychology (ACPN)
- Board of Certified Psychometrists (BCP)
- Psychometric Society
Continuing Education (CE) Sources
One of the ways that a psychometrician can develop his or her career includes earning CE credits and maintaining certification, when applicable. As of 2015, professional psychometrists will be obligated to earn 20 continuing education credits every two years with a requirement of completing at least three credits in Ethics.
Read our fantastic interview with Expert Psychometrician, Dr. Kevin McGrew, Founder of Institute of Applied Psychometrics.