Educational and Career Plan Essay Example

Upon entering a graduate degree program, students often have an undergraduate degree that they would like to further or specialize, gain further in-depth knowledge of their chosen career field. A master’s degree or doctorate in the chosen field allows greater earning potential as well as the ability to enter at a higher level than as a beginner. The field of psychology is very broad and consists of several different paths depending on what you would like to specialize in within the field. However, each person must start at the same beginning, a master’s in whatever specialty they choose to partake in.

Degree Plan

When I made the choice to go back to school to further my BA in forensic psychology, I did a lot of research on which schools could offer the concentration courses that I was looking for. After reading and researching what Purdue Global had to offer to assist me in beginning my chosen career, I decided to attend. 

Forensic psychology is like the infant of psychology due to it being relatively new in the psychology field. Forensic psychology, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is the application of clinical specialties to the legal arena (Ward, 2013). Christopher Cronin, who has written a well-known textbook on forensic psychology, defines it as “The application of clinical specialties to legal institutions and people who come into contact with the law” (p. 5), again emphasizing the application of clinical skills such as assessment, treatment, evaluation to forensic settings. 

Forensic psychology requires participating in a practicum or an internship for a required number of hours totaling 800 experience hours. With a psychology area such as this that requires extended knowledge of so many different areas to equal all that is entailed in just the one, I plan on seeking out opportunities where I can shadow and gain experience through supervised training. 

At the end of a master’s program, students have the choice to either write a thesis which is an extensive paper on something that they have researched in psychology, or take a comprehensive exam which is an intensive examination testing a student's proficiency in some special field of knowledge (“comprehensive examination,” n.d.). 

I chose to take the comprehensive exam, as I am more proficient in test taking than writing a thesis which most of the time, requires extensive research to create a book length paper.                                

Degree Plan (Course Requirements)

Course Number Course Name

PS501: Foundations of Professional Psychology

PS502: Ethics and Standards of Professional Psychology

MM570: Applied Statistics for Psychology

PS504: Advanced Research Methods

PS506: Life Span Development

PS505: Testing, Measurement, and Assessment

PS550: Principles of Forensic Psychology

PS551: Forensic Psychology and the Law

PS552: Theories of Criminal Behavior

PS553: Advanced Principles of Forensic Psychology

PS600: Comprehensive Exam

Licensure/Credentialing Plan

As with many other professions when working in a state, legal, or government capacity, there are certain qualifications that must be obtained to be able to participate and become employed in the chosen profession. To become a crime scene investigator, there are numerous and different qualifications and licenses needed depending on whether you want to work for the FBI or local law enforcement, of course FBI requirements are greater. Since I am new and taking the first step towards a large qualification that is needed, I have not decided which section I would like to become employed with just yet but both options are open. 

As part of the qualifying and licensing process the student needs to review the licensing process to become a private investigator which can be done with ease by visiting . As a general qualification for a certified crime scene investigator, the person must become certified through the Crime Scene Certification Board with 48 hours of approved training in crime scene related courses which can be found at (“Crime Scene Certification Requirements” n.d.). The person must also take a written test and pass with a minimum of 75%. The tests are taken from publications selected by the Crime Scene Certification Board (“Crime Scene Certification Requirements” n.d.).

Steps and Requirements

Before you can become an official crime scene investigator and go through certification & licensure, a person must have general qualifications to be able to start the process such as:

1. Graduated from high school and attended an undergraduate program to achieve a bachelor's degree in criminal justice although, a master's degree in forensic psychology is most beneficial. 

2. You must pay for several in depth background checks, application fee, as well as fingerprinting fees. 

3.You also must shadow a crime scene investigation team, hands on, & apply for a private investigator's license which carries the following requirements (Kissiah, 2019):

4. Applicant must be at least 21 years of age 

5. Applicant must be a citizen of the United States or lawfully entitled to remain and work in the United States. 

6. Applicant must be of good moral character and temperate habits 

7. Applicant must have no conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude or the illegal use or possession of a dangerous weapon. 

8. Must undergo a criminal history background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS) and California Department of Justice (CDOJ) if you have lived in or ever visited the State of California must have five years (2,000 hours each year, totaling 10,000 hours) of investigative experience. 

9. An associate’s degree in Police Science or Criminal Justice is the equivalent of 8 months or 1,333 hours, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Police Science or Criminal Justice is the equivalent of 18 months or 3000 hours of experience. Experience must be certified by your employer on the forms provided in the application.

Some applicants, depending on what section of criminal investigating they want to do such as a detective, might also require a concealed weapon certification. I see the most difficult aspect of utilizing my forensic psychology degree is deciding if I would like to go through the process of working in an FBI crime unit or working with the local investigations department.

Additional Requirements

As shown above, there is a degree plan that is made for every person who is seeking out a master’s degree in some type of psychology area, as well as other areas, that will assist them in being able to enter the workforce doing something that they have had extensive training in.

My degree plan centers around a general psychology master’s degree with a concentration on forensic psychology. However, there is much more knowledge and training needed to be a crime scene investigator such as crime scene analysis, evidence collection, etc. These types of skills are learned hands on while employed with a police unit or as a detective. It does not give you a general idea of the specifics of the position that would assist from the start.

Career Goals

After reviewing the extensive qualifications, certifications, and licenses, as well as internship, and graduating with my master’s degree, I will attempt to become employed with the RPD, or reno police department, to use as my stepping stone for learning procedures and technicalities involved with becoming an investigator, so at some time shortly after, I can move up to either the FBI or a larger police department in the crime scene investigation unit. I will be optimistic and look at the grand finale, what is my ultimate goal/position that I will fulfill long term? I believe that a lead investigator /detective is where I will stay long term to complete my career goal.

Additional Education, Licensure, or Credentialing

If I decided that working for the FBI was what I ultimately wanted to do, I would also need to attend the police training academy for a required period of time and maintain optimum physical fitness. Those who go on to obtain a doctorate become lead investigators, or someone who interviews high profile offenders in the prison system. Most employers are looking for hands on experience from a total of 6 months and up. The more certifications you have, the higher you climb up the ladder towards possibly management, or a lead/supervisor position.

Career Center Resources

To assist me in identifying what location and organization, local or FBI, that I would like to start my career in, there are various resources to use to find more information as to the qualifications and detail involved in each organization. 

The internet can be a great asset to/for the job search. There are cites such as,, CareerBuilder, Linked In, even Facebook. On sites such as these I can see what employers are hiring and the possible salary range. You also have the ability to narrow your search down using specific words related to the career or employer you are attempting to get hired on with. For me, I will look for employers related to local police departments, government, & state to search out the available positions in my field of study. Job boards in your or local college can be a great resource to find field based employment. USA Jobs & are an extremely beneficial resource in seeking out criminal justice positions due to a lot of the listings being for government employment.

Other Purdue Global Resources

Career seeking support and each of the above mentioned job search resources aren’t the only support you can utilize while beginning and going through your job search. Purdue University Global has several resources for students to find support while completing your degree and getting ready to enter your chosen field. There are student groups that I can join to discuss possibilities and seek out any situation I am going through, that are degree and field specific. 

These group contains students who are seeking out the same degree and career positions that I am. Having peer support can sometimes be more beneficial than seeking out assistance from student support or a professor who is not specialized in your chosen field. New ideas and opinions as well as advice are shared in the student groups.

The academic advisor is also an excellent source of support throughout my college program. He assists me in creating and customizing my degree plan to meet the qualifications necessary for my field.

Resources Outside of PG

Aside from university resources as well as internet job search engines, I have discussed the possibilities for my chosen career with the local police department to inquire about what is necessary to become a crime scene investigator employed with their organization. I have found that most positions such as this require a civil service exam as well as being placed on an eligible list. I also inquired about completing my internship with the same organization and am awaiting information related to interning and shadowing.

I have also utilized  a site, NVAPPS, to find civil servant jobs related to my desired position or something that I can start with, leading to the position I am seeking. Many of the employers are willing to answer my questions and give me advice on where to start or what route to take to achieve my desired position.


After researching and reviewing all resources available to assist me in completing my degree through Purdue and the community, and taking the steps necessary to achieve my desired profession, a crime scene investigator, it appears that I am on the right track to becoming  successful in doing so. There is much opportunity to utilize all resources that are available to me to become employed in the criminal justice/psychology field. 

However, it does seem that most employers no matter what the field is, all require the same 1st qualification if it is a professional position, a master’s degree. In doing so, this will provide me with the opportunity for employers to consider my qualifications before someone who might not have the same or equal education and experience, making it more likely that I will be afforded the position and be able to start gaining the extenuating knowledge required to move up or possibly become an FBI agent which is where the greater salary scale is for earnings.

I do know that no matter which route I choose to become employed in, I will research the most beneficial in utilizing the graduate degree that I am working hard to achieve for the greater salary earning and upper position.


A historical review and resource guide to the scholarship of teaching and training in psychology and law and forensic psychology. By: Najdowski, Cynthia J., Bottoms, Bette L., Stevenson, Margaret C., Vielle, Jennifer C., Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 19313918, 20150801, Vol. 9, Issue 3

Comprehensive examination. (n.d.) WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. (2003-2008). Retrieved June 15, 2019 from 

Kissiah, M. (2019, January 21) How to Get a Private Investigator License in Nevada. Retrieved June 16, 2019 from

Ward, J. T. (2013, September). What is forensic psychology? Retrieved June 16, 2019, from



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