Developing Your Career in the Field of Organization Development

developing a career in organization development through institute of od


Developing Your Career in the Field of Organization Development

This article talks about how OD professionals can develop their careers in OD and what they need to know about the profession.

If you are seeking a career in the field of organization development, you must be   self-motivated, communication savvy, and a visionary. OD professionals have an intense desire to help senior leaders lead change, improve organizational effectiveness, and create a healthy work environment. Other desirable key traits  are must be highly ethical, motivated, inspiring, and dedicated.

OD professionals who desire to take their careers to the next level will benefit from upgrading their skills, experience, and education. Most organizations and senior leaders need OD professionals who can help them manage change and solve critical business challenges and problems.

The OD function usually reports to the VP of Human Resources. However, in some organizations this function reports directly to the Senior Leadership Team. OD professionals act as business partners and help senior leaders deal with issues that impact business strategy and metrics as well as impending change. Some of the areas in which OD can support senior leaders are mergers and acquisitions, changes in business strategy, vision and mission, culture change, leadership development, organization structure and strategy, organization redesign, team development, conflict, and individual development.

The role of the OD Professional is to help senior leaders analyze the organizational culture and recommend changes to help solve problems, improve performance, and enhance organization effectiveness. OD practitioners must develop the expertise and skills to support the senior leadership team and provide them with the process, tools, and skills they need to effectively implement change.

Degrees or Education Needed
When entering into the field of OD, companies typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, or prefer a master’s degree with some business experience in Human Resources, Training and Development, Coaching, Consulting, Project Management.

If you are looking for entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and psychology, human resource management, information technology, organization development and programs that emphasize training and development, industrial psychology will provide you with the foundational knowledge you will need to work as a Organization Development, Professional, or entry level Specialist. For those looking for a specific role such as OD Consultant, or OD Manager, a master’s degree in Organization Development, Leadership and Organization Development, or Human Resource Management will put you ahead of your competitors and make your resume stand apart from the rest.

Earning an industry certification is not required but according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some employers prefer or require job candidates to have certificates or certifications in their field. Many earn graduate degrees in organization development and add to their credentials by registering for an Organization Development Certification Program. To grow in the field of OD and gain a solid reputation verified by industry credentials may benefit you in your career. Currently, online programs and classroom programs offer certifications to support your career growth in the field.

Also, you may want to obtain advanced training or certificates in survey analysis, organization behavior change, assessments such as culture surveys, 360 feedback, personality assessments such as the DISC, Myer’s Briggs, Hogan, Firo-B, and tools such as Emotional Intelligence, Ned Hermann Whole Brain Thinking, Team Assessment, Strategic Planning, Influence Skills, Crucial Conversations, Coaching Skills, etc.

Skills Needed
An organization development professional must have a broad range of skills and vast understanding of the company’s business culture, strategy, structure, systems, and talent management requirements to support all key functions of the organization.

Key skills required include critical-thinking, systems thinking, decision-making, interpersonal communication, active listening, managerial and public speaking, attention to detail, knowledge of business practice, behavior science, ability to influence others, group facilitation, emotional intelligence, self-direction, team playing, strategic thinking and a persuasive speaking and writing, project management, needs analysis, data collection, statistical analysis, research skills, social media, and computer software.

Many of your current skills can be transferred to the field of OD. These include skills such as facilitation, quality management and statistical tools, process improvement, training design, change management, systems thinking skills, consulting, coaching, formal presentations, leading teams, conflict resolution, job analysis, job redesign, competency models, etc.

Career Path
When you apply for a position as an OD professional your role may vary depending on the size of the organization
Some large corporations have large OD departments designed with the sole purpose of working with senior leaders as business partners within the organization, while a smaller organizations may only need one or two individuals who must be highly competent in OD to support the needs of the organization to help leaders solve problems and plan and design effective interventions.

Be sure to read some of the career profiles of our thought leaders (see upcoming issue) to learn how others got started and grew in the profession.

Job Options
The field of Organization Development offers many potential career options.

These include:

Organization Development Specialist
Organizational development professionals use behavioral science technology to identify company goals, systems and strategies to maximize efficiency in the workplace. They also specialize in ‘change management’ by helping their business partners with a variety of interventions involving individuals and teams.

Organization Development Consultant
The Senior Organizational Development (OD) Consultant supports various OD functions to support employee engagement, retention, change management and other initiatives to facilitate professional development and continuous learning initiatives. Supports all departments and department heads with the resources to develop the staff and management team.

Organization Development Manager
The Organization Development Manager supports senior leaders with activities such as change management, organizational capability, talent management, and performance management. The OD Development Manager facilitates working sessions and planning meetings in support of organizational development activities. The Manager works closely with SVP of HR and Sr. Director of HR to develop communication plans and strategy and rolls-out company- wide communication programs. The Manager ensures that all communication is in line with the company philosophy and is up-to-date.

Organization Development Director
The Organizational Development Director acts as organizational development liaison and advisor to the organization’s leadership and facilitates the organization’s initiatives across the enterprise. The Director supports senior leaders to help them with critical business challenges which include planning, developing, and implementing effective solutions to achieve strategic business goals and operational objectives. The Director also assists senior leaders by helping them implement large-scale transitions, such as mergers and reorganizations, culture change, organization systems change.

Organization Development VP
The Vice President, Organization Development (OD) provides leadership, processes, tools, and resources to support the implementation of high-value initiatives. He/she will drive talent management and leadership development strategies, as well as, implement stools/processes required to support succession planning, talent assessment, performance management, competency identification, professional development, and coaching. The VP will lead OD in areas such as: job design, organizational structure, work-force planning, and culture change/transition planning.

The VP’s primary responsibility is to develop the organization from a performance and culture perspective by implementing and overseeing programs that increase efficiencies, strengthen employee knowledge and abilities, improve leadership, and maintain the overall vitality of the organization.

Job Market
According to, the field of OD is a doing good as a result of the improving economic conditions and the demand for OD Consultants is growing. At present, there are 102,700 people employed in this area with a projected growth of 13 percent by 2022. These are estimated figures which probably do not take into account how many more are employed in this field because typically OD consultants are included in a general HR groups.

The pay ranges between $30.00 – $200.00/ hour for certain organizations depending on whether the position is part-time, or as a consultant, at the practitioner level salaries can range from $45,000 – $60,000, to as high as $150,000 – $180,000 and above per year for Managers to VP Level. Freelance consultants have the potential to make much more and those who are well-known and have a reputation for success, demand much higher rates.

We hope this information will be useful for you. If you would like to learn more about Organization Development and how it can help you jump-start your career, call us at 954-341-2522 or email us at

About the author:
Nancy Zentis is a leading professional in the field of OD, with more than 30 years’ experience as a consulting working with multinational organizations. She is the founder and CEO of Institute of OD, providing OD Certification Programs. She can be reached at 954-341-2522.

Additional information
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