Your Career in Psychology

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YourCareer in Psychology

FirstName MI. Last Name


Careerselection should be based on one’s passion and long-termprofessional goals. Pursuing a career in psychology will help meimpact the lives of children and families positively. My careervision is to apply my knowledge as well as skills in helping myclients deal with behavior problems in appropriate and effectiveways. Some of the goals that will help me pursue this career visioninclude learning through comprehensive research, becoming a certifiedbehavior analyst, and securing a rewarding career. Professionalcompetencies in the field of psychology are achieved through thecombination of the suitable skills, knowledge, and attitudes.Professional requirements include additional education, training,association, work experience, licensure, credentialing, andaccreditation. Some of the key gaps identified through the personalassessment exercise include the lack of a Masters Degree in the fieldof Psychology, BCBA exam, and 1500 working hours under supervision ofthe board. These gaps will be filled by completing Capella program,attaining Capella Specialization requirements, and consulting withinstructors.

Keywords: Psychology practitioner-scholar, career vision, long-termgoals, professional requirements.

YourCareer in Psychology

Psychologyis among the most respectable fields of study in which anyone wouldwish to pursue a career. However, it is critically important toselect a career out of passion, instead of basing one’s decision onthe opinions of the public about a given profession (Edwards &ampQuinter, 2011). In my case, I would like to be a psychologypractitioner-scholar and work as a behavior analyst. I was motivatedby different factors to pursue a career in psychology. It all startedwhen I got an opportunity to work as an assistant teacher, where Iwas given the responsibility of taking care of children sufferingfrom behavioral as well as emotional disturbances. I also got achance to work with the Board of Certified Behavioral Analysis(BCBA). This opportunity allowed me to interact with analysts andexperts who have practiced psychology for many years. I gainedknowledge and skills on how to develop and implement behavioralmodification plans. In this paper, I will provide a discussion aboutmy career in psychology. The paper will focus on my vision, goals,professional competencies, requirements, self-assessment, and actionplan. I believe that my enthusiasm as well as the interest inpsychology will help me connect and resonate well with families andeducators.

Visionand Goals

Theexponential increase in the number of career options, coupled withthe dynamic nature of the modern workplaces has enhanced confusionamong students since it is difficult to select what one would like todo in the future. However, this confusion can be minimized bydeveloping a comprehensive career vision that provides a vivid imageof one’s future (Sower, 2013). In my case, I am guided by a visionstatement, “To become a psychology practitioner-scholar who willutilize knowledge and experience to engage and assist children andfamilies learn how to deal with behavioral issues in a moreappropriate and effective way”. From this vision statement, it isclear that my dream is to become a professional who will have apositive impact on the lives of children, their families, andeducators. By working with the educators, I will be able to empowerthem and share knowledge as well as the skills that will help themfast-track and embrace the culture of taking control over theirnatural environment.

Thereare people who believe that specializing in a single area of a givenprofession enhances productivity and fulfillment (Mni, 2015). Thisnotion is attributed to the fact that specialization allows anindividual to have the opportunity to develop skills and focus ontheir implementation in the real-life situations. However, I believein the concept of diversity. My vision is to apply the knowledge andskills in diverse fields that are related to my expertise. Byexercising my knowledge in several areas I will be able to assistpeople with different needs. School and homes are some of the keysettings in which I will practice as a psychologist. The decision totarget the two settings is founded on an assumption that most of theindividuals as well as groups (including children, educators, andfamilies) that I intend to impact spend most of their time in thoseareas. Based on the nature of the settings in which I will work, mydream is to become a child psychologist or a kid therapist.

Researchis among the basic pillars of the evidence based practices (EBPs).The application of EBP involves the use of scientific evidence toinform the processes of decision-making, especially in thetherapeutic settings (Waschbusch, Fabiano &amp Pelham, 2012). Myvision is to invest in research, especially in the specialized areasof human behavior and emotions. The scientific research will help mebase my child therapy practices on empirical evidence, thus enhancingmy competence.

Iwill be guided by three major goals in pursuing my career vision. Myfirst goal is to become a certified behavior analyst. Thiscertification will help me concentrate on family guidance andcounseling, thus giving me an opportunity to contribute towards anincrease in peace and harmony in the society. My second goal is tolearn through comprehensive research on traditional methods that areused by other scholars. The use of research to inform my practiceswill enable me to implement behavior change plans and help my clientscope with their environment (Waschbusch, Fabiano &amp Pelham, 2012).In addition, the aim of using research is to enhance my performancemetrics, including effectiveness and competence. The third goal is tosecure a rewarding career as a practicing psychologist-scholar. In myunderstanding, the term “rewarding career” does not only mean ajob that will help me make money, but also a career that will help meutilize my knowledge to impact the lives of the people. Therefore, arewarding career will help me bring a constructive change in thelives of my clients, especially children.


Professionalbodies determine the key professional competencies (includingknowledge, skills, and attributes) that can help their membersdeliver quality services to their clients. There are three basictypes of knowledge that are required for one to practice as apsychologist practitioner-scholar. First, a practitioner is expectedto have the knowledge of evidence-based practices (EBP). The EBPknowledge is significant because it helps practitioners apply thelatest scientific evidence to find solutions to issues affectingtheir clients (Stevens, 2013). Moreover, the EBP knowledge enablespeople to apply concepts and approaches that have been provenscientifically, and avoid using the trial and error techniques.Secondly, a practitioner is expected to have the knowledge ofbehavior and mental disorders. Most of the issues that are handled bypsychology practitioner scholars include behavior and mental issuesthat needs to be corrected. Finally, some knowledge on autism isquite relevant because this type of disorder results in thedevelopment of repetitive behaviors. It is a common disorder that apractitioner who intends to work with children will encounter almoston a daily basis.

Theright skills help professionals deliver services to their clients ina competent way. A professional who wishes to pursue a career inpsychology practitioner-scholar should have at least six basicskills. First, the skills for decision-making help psychologists,especially those who offer therapeutic services to select the besttreatment approach for their clients. In addition, decision-makingskills help psychologists manage their day-to-day activities byenhancing their ability to take the best options out of the availablealternatives (Hunsley, &amp Barker, 2011).

Secondly,psychologists need the critical thinking skills in order to enhancetheir ability to solve the patients` problems systematically,comprehend the logical connections that exist between ideas, anddetect inconsistencies in reasoning (Hunsley, &amp Barker, 2011).Critical thinking helps psychologists, who serve as therapists tobase their therapeutic approaches on logical reasoning and evidence.This increases their ability to solve unique problems.

Third,effective communication skill can be considered as the backbone ofall careers in psychology. Psychologists deal with human beings,which imply that they can only comprehend their clients’ problemsthrough effective communication (Hunsley, &amp Barker, 2011).

Thefourth type of skill that psychologists are expected to have is theability to conduct behavior assessment. It is almost impossible topractice psychology without applying some concepts, assumptions, andprinciples of the theory of behaviorism (Hunsley, &amp Barker,2011). Therefore, the ability to analyze clients’ behavior enablespsychologists to find solutions to issues that affect the way peopleconduct themselves. In addition, psychologists should be able towrite and revise behavior-analytic treatment plans.

Fifth,the data analysis skills are critical, especially to psychologistswho use research to inform their decisions. Data analysis is part andparcel of any scientific research. Therefore, competent psychologistshould know how to analyze, interpret, and connect data to real-lifesituations (Hunsley, &amp Barker, 2011).

Sixth,psychologists apply problem-solving skills in managing their ownprofessions and in the process of helping clients. The role ofpsychologists is to help clients manage the negative effects thatresults from stress-full events (Hunsley, &amp Barker, 2011). Thiscan only be achieved if they have the necessary skills for solvingproblems.

Apositive attitude helps psychology practitioners achieve the greatestpotential in their career. There are four major types of attitudesthat help psychology practitioners in their day-to-day work. Thefirst type of attitude is the desire to maintain ethical integrity.Although psychologists are guided by the code of conduct, having theright attitude will helps them observe ethical integrity in theirwork without being monitored by professional bodies (Hunsley, &ampBarker, 2011). Secondly, the determination to avoid bias in practicehelps practitioners apply the principle of justice when dealing withclients. Third, practitioners should remain motivated at all times inorder to succeed in their career. Motivation offers the drive that anindividual needs to order to pursue and accomplish certain goals(Hunsley, &amp Barker, 2011). Lastly, relentlessness helpspractitioners keep fighting to increase their ability to deliverquality skills and enhance my academic knowledge.


CapellaSpecialization Requirements

Mostof the professional requirements that I need in order to achieve myvision as a psychology practitioner-scholar include academicachievement, training, experience, and an approval by professionalbodies. For example, I will only be able to achieve my dream ofbecoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst by fulfilling the CapellaSpecialization requirements. I am required to have at least a MastersDegree in the field of psychology and 1500 independent field workhours under supervision (Capella University, 2016). In addition, I amrequired to complete the ABA coursework and pass the state licenseexam that is offered via the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board(BACB).

AdditionalEducation and Training

Thecredentials given by BACB are considered as the entry-levelrequirements, which imply that additional education as well astraining is necessary. Graduates are expected to pursue furthereducation and training after being issued with the BACB certificate.The board has a Continuing Education program (CE) that allowindividuals with the entry-level certificates to engage in differentactivities that seek to increase and maintain their skills inbehavior analysis (Behavioral Analyst Certification Board, 2016).This requirement for additional education and training will help meremain current and able to deliver up-to-date services to my clients.

Licensure,Credentialing and Accreditation

Apartfrom issuing certificates to the graduates, BACB plays the role ofsupervising Registered Behavior Technicians, Board CertifiedAssistant Behavior Analysis. This supervision is significant becauseit is followed by credentialing as well as the accreditation ofpractitioners, which is a confirmation that their work meets theprofessional standards (BACB, 2016). Working under the supervision ofthe BACB will help me deliver quality services and operate andobserve professional standards. This will enable me grow in mycareer.


Althoughacademic qualification is important in the field of psychology thework experience serves as a proof of the fact that an individual hasthe attained the capability to apply theories in addressing real-lifeissues. A work experience of between 2 and 4 years with an MD and ASDare required for one to work as a behavior analyst (BACB, 2016).


Graduateswho have been certified are able to work as independent behavioranalysts. However, the association with a professional board servesas an assurance that their work is subjected to a review by anestablished organization. Therefore, it will be necessary toestablish a professional association with the BACB.

EthicalCodes, Policies, and Laws

Theprofessional conduct of behavior analysts is guided by a code thatwas developed and regularly updated by the BACB. Some of the keyelements of the code include conformity with the law during research,accountable conduct, responsibility to clients as well as BACB,procedures for the assessment of behavior, supervisory roles, andethical compliance (BACB, 2016).


ADescription of Knowledge, Attitude, and Skill

Theprocess of self-assessment on the level of competencies should bebased on knowledge, attitude, and skill that a psychologist isexpected to have. A psychologist should have the knowledge of autism,mental as well as behavioral disorders, and EBPs. I have gained someof these by working for two years in ABA field and collaborating withBCBA.


Someof the skills that I have gained from the past experiences includedata collection, observation, and documenting student’s progress.

Demonstrationof Knowledge, Attitude, and Skill

Ihave demonstrated my knowledge, attitudes, and skills in severalways. I acquired some competencies (such the ability to collaboratecollaboration) by working as an applied behavior analyst for abouttwo years. My ability to document the students’ progress wasconfirmed when I was recognized as a useful component in my class. Inaddition, my ability to collaborate with BCBA, making observation,and the knowledge of MD as well as ASD has been confirmed by the factthat I have a strong reference from my principal and teachers.

ADescription of Knowledge, Attitude, and Skill Gap

Someof the key knowledge gaps that need to be considered include theexposure to other challenging behaviors. In addition, the ability tocommunicate with families is a significant knowledge gap.

ADescription of the Current Knowledge, Attitude, and Skill Gap

Thelack of adequate exposure to multiple behavior problems is one of mycurrent knowledge gaps. Additionally, I do not have a master’sdegree, which has limited my ability to write behavior modificationplans.

Whatneeds to be done to develop knowledge, attitude, and skill gaps?

Iwill be able to fill the current gaps by continuing to work in myprofession. In addition, consulting with my instructor will help meacquire more skills and knowledge.

ExperiencesRelated to Requirements, Which Could Serve as a Starting Point

My2-4 years of work experience in ABA field is an opportunity thathelped me gain an experience in working with children who havebehavior challenges. This experience motivated me to pursue a careerin psychology. It also opened up my mind and helped me to understandwhat I would be expected to do as a psychologist.

Whatis needed to achieve all that is required?

Thereare several things that I need to do in order to achieve myprofessional requirements. First, I need to complete a Masters Degreeand then sit for the board exam in order to meet the BACB’srequirements. Secondly, I will be required to undertake the 1500hours of practice under the supervision of the BACB.


Completionof Capella Program:

Mylong-term goal is to complete the required courses in ABA and CapellaUniversity. My purpose is to complete these requirements within theduration set by the University. I expect to receive support from myco-workers and faculties at the university. My experience will alsobe a great resource that will contribute towards the achievement ofthis goal. I expect to face three key barriers. The first barrier ismedical emergencies that might limit my time. I will reduce the riskof sudden illness through physical exercise, balanced diet, andtaking sufficient rest. The second challenge is significant familymatters. I will address this barrier through several measures,including holding a discussion with the instructor to reschedule theassignment dates and dropping classes in order to resume when I getemotionally stable. Lastly, I will address the barrier of naturaldisasters (such as blizzards and hurricanes) by requesting theinstructor for an extension of the assignment dates.

AttainCapella Specialization Requirements:

Iwill accomplish this goal by pursuing a Masters Degree in Psychologybetween January 2017 and December 2018. I will sit for the ABA examimmediately after completing the Masters Degree. I will thenundertake the 1500 hours of supervised independent work betweenJanuary 2019 and December 2019. The lack of lack of time is the majorchallenge I anticipate when pursuing this goal. I will address itthrough prior planning and increasing my time management skills. Myrelatives will be great resources since I will request for theirfinancial as well as the moral support as I pursue the goal.

Consultingwith Instructors:

Iwill consult with instructors throughout my Masters program, whichwill start from January 2017 and December 2018, in order to acquireskills that I need to be able to communicate with families. I willachieve this goal by establishing contacts with instructors,informing them that I would like to include them in the list of mymentors, and holding a discussion with them during their free time.One of the key barriers to this goal is the lack of availability ofinstructors in their physical offices. I will address the challengeby requesting them to inform me when they have free time.


Mydecision to pursue a career in psychology is based on passion anddesire to impact the lives of people in a positive way. One of thekey benefits that I will get by becoming a psychologypractitioner-scholar is personal fulfillment. The career will give mea chance to work with children as well as families and help themmanage their behaviors. Personal fulfillment will also come from thefact that I will be able to meet and work with new people on a dailybasis. My vision is relevant to my professional aspirations becauseit encourages me to utilize my knowledge as well as skills to impactthe lives of families and children. My career goals encourage me tobase by thinking on research evidence and pursue professionalcertification, all of which are necessary for a successful careerdevelopment. Therefore, a combination of career vision and goals willmotivate and guide me in the process of pursuing my dream of becominga psychology practitioner-scholar.


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CapellaUniversity (2016). Departmentof Psychology.Minneapolis, MN: Capella University.

Edwards,K. &amp Quinter, M. (2011). Factors influencing students careerchoices among secondary school students in Kisumu Municipality.Journalof Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies,2 (2), 81-87.

Hunsley,J. &amp Barker, K. (2011). Training for competency in professionalpsychology: A Canadian perspective. AustralianPsychologist,46 (1), 142-145.

Mni,S. (2015). Work design and job satisfaction. InternationalJournal of Humanities and Social Sciences,5 (10), 202-207.

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Stevens,R. (2013). The impact of evidence-based practice in nursing and thenext big ideas. TheOnline Journal of Issues in Nursing,18 (2), 1-10.

Waschbusch,A., Fabiano, A., &amp Pelham, E. (2012). Evidence-basedpractice in child and adolescent disorders.Hoboken: John Wiley &amp Sons, Inc.

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