From the CEO
To remain a thriving organization, APA has to be sure it meets the needs of all members. Throughout much of our history, however, APA inadvertently overlooked one key group: early career psychologists, those who have earned their doctoral degrees within the last seven years. Yet, as a result of our efforts to focus more on this group, things have changed significantly. Over the last year, the number of APA's early career psychologist members has grown by 12.5 percent, the largest percentage increase of any APA membership category. In fact, early career psychologists now make up about 21 percent of all APA full members.
Who are APA's early career members? According to 2008 data from APA's Center for Workforce Studies, 72 percent are women and 28 percent are men. About 6 percent are under age 30, 60 percent are age 30 to 39 and the remaining third are age 40 or older. About 66 percent have PhDs, 33 percent have PsyDs and 1 percent have EdDs. More than 51 percent report that their primary career activity involves mental health services, while 16 percent say it's research and 13 percent say education.
The growth in APA's early career is due in part to the tireless efforts of our Committee on Early Career Psychologists. Since it was established as an ad hoc committee in 2001—and a continuing committee in 2005—this group has identified the needs of early career psychologists and translated them into action. In 2007 the committee surveyed early career psychologists and found that this group faces some unique challenges. In particular, many early career psychologists have high debt loads and report that their finances and family and caregiver responsibilities negatively affect their careers.
Resources for early career psychologists
APA is providing a wide array of resources to address the concerns of early career psychologists, among others. One of our most popular resources is our "Financial Planning for Early Career Psychologists," a free guide for members that offers financial advice (available online, and in print by e-mailing Alex Sittig).
To help early career psychologists get the jobs they want, APA offers PsycCareers.com, an online career center offering the world's largest database of psychology jobs and candidates.
Another highly popular resource is, of course, the entire APA Early Career Psychologists Web site, which features career resources, lists of funding and loan-repayment resources, licensure information and continuing-education courses. It also links to early career news and offers a detailed list of the benefits and resources these members need most, such as funding resources, practice services, opportunities for networking and involvement in APA, and discounts on personal and professional products and services. The site is also home to the early career listserv, where members share their career-related problems and solutions.
Meanwhile, APA is continuing to include early career psychologists at every level of governance. Some APA's boards and committees are now designating early career psychologist positions, and APA is encouraging divisions and state associations to do the same. You'll even see our emphasis on early career psychologists reflected in this year's presidential elections: This month, the five candidates running this year for APA President answered the question, "What concrete ideas do you have about how APA can better serve our early career psychologists?" (For their answers, see "Candidates".)
The Committee on Early Career Psychologists has been an extraordinarily successful in raising awareness of early career issues. So, if you are an early career psychologist, work with the committee to articulate your needs and concerns. And if you are a more seasoned colleague, help us foster the rewarding relationship we have with our early career colleagues. Our future as a field and an organization depends upon it.