AI Careers, Cognitive Orchestrator

Navigating the Future: Why Behavioral Health Professionals Can Find Lucrative AI Careers as “Cognitive Orchestrators”


September 6, 2023 | Reading Time: 6 Minutes

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Introduction to AI Careers as Cognitive Orchestrators

As healthcare shifts toward digital solutions, the burgeoning field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents exciting career opportunities for mental health and substance abuse counselors. A seamless career transition to an AI career as a ‘Cognitive Orchestrator’ may be intellectually stimulating and financially rewarding. Building on insights about crossing over from behavioral care to the world of technology from Maheu, Drude, & Wright’s seminal work, “Career Paths in Telemental Health” (2017), this article explores the synergies between behavioral health training and experience and this emergent AI career.

Why Consider an AI Career in the Upcoming “Fifth Industrial Revolution”?

As we enter what some theorists call the “Fifth Industrial Revolution,” behavioral health professionals can become pivotal figures in shaping human-centric technologies. The notion of a Fifth Industrial Revolution is gaining increasing traction as the natural progression in the unfolding narrative of human technological advancement. Building on the Fourth Industrial Revolution—which heralded the seamless integration of physical, digital, and biological systems—the Fifth Industrial Revolution aims to humanize technology.

This next epoch promises to prioritize well-being, inclusivity, and sustainability, restoring a sense of shared humanity and ethical responsibility to our interactions with artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies. In this new era, roles like the Cognitive Orchestrator become invaluable. They stand at the intersection of technology and human psychology, serving as stewards of a more conscious, ethical deployment of AI. This role marries the technological sophistication demanded by AI systems with the humane sensibilities that will be central to the Fifth Industrial Revolution, making it a pivotal profession in shaping a future where technology serves to amplify the best aspects of human existence.

What is the Fifth Industrial Revolution?

The term “Fifth Industrial Revolution” is often attributed to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, although various thought leaders have contributed to its evolving definition.

Schwab initially introduced the idea in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, emphasizing the importance of moving beyond mere technological integration to human-centric models of development (Schwab, K., 2016, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”). In this new phase, the Fifth Industrial Revolution aims to refocus our engagement with technology toward global well-being, ecological sustainability, and social inclusivity.

What Does the Fifth Industrial Revolution Signal for Healthcare?

This new era signifies a profound shift in the healthcare and telehealth sectors. It invites a reimagining of how we integrate technological advancements like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics with the more humane aspects of healthcare delivery. Telehealth, for instance, could move beyond providing mere access to enhancing the quality of care through personalized, AI-driven diagnostics and treatment plans while adhering to ethical and inclusive guidelines.

The concept of an AI career as a Cognitive Orchestrator becomes critical here, as professionals in this role could serve as the ethical and psychological touchpoints in these advanced systems. They would ensure that while healthcare becomes increasingly digitized, it remains aligned with the ethical imperatives of human well-being and inclusivity, foundational pillars of the Fifth Industrial Revolution.

The Role of ‘Cognitive Orchestrator’

Cognitive Orchestrators, or ‘prompt engineers,’ would calibrate AI responses for quality and ethics. These professionals train AI to engage in effective, human-like interactions, balancing technological capabilities and ethical considerations.

Toolkit for the Modern Cognitive Orchestrator

Just as telemental health requires new forms of patient engagement and therapeutic frameworks (Maheu et al., 2017), Cognitive Orchestrators use methodologies that include defining dialogue roles, setting contextual cues, and providing iterative feedback.

Financial Implications of an AI Career for Behavioral Professionals

According to Forbes, shifting to a role as a Cognitive Orchestrator offers substantial financial benefits, with annual salaries of $300,000 in the United States. This represents a significant pay increment compared to traditional therapeutic roles.

Career Longevity: More than a Passing Trend?

As outlined by Maheu and colleagues, the increasing incorporation of technology into healthcare suggests that roles combining tech and mental health skills are not ephemeral but integral to the future of human-technology interface.

Skillsets: A Fusion of Behavioral Health and Technology

The role of Cognitive Orchestrators calls for an understanding of psychological principles, similar to therapists. In this space, behavioral health professionals can apply their expertise in empathy, patient communication, and the human mind. Maheu and colleagues articulate that the convergence of mental health and technology has already been underway in the realm of telemental health, laying the foundation for such interdisciplinary roles.

User-Centric AI: The Next Frontier in Healthcare

Similar to the evolution of telemental health services, which prioritized patient-centric care, the next frontier in healthcare technology appears to be user-centric AI. Behavioral health professionals possess the subject matter expert skills needed to guide this ethical and user-friendly evolution of technology (Nielsen, 1993). A technology and the humanities or social sciences background can be particularly beneficial.

Below are some strengths or competencies that would be particularly valuable for someone interested in a career as a Cognitive Orchestrator.

Domain Expertise

  • Subject-Matter Knowledge. A strong grasp of the domain where the AI is to be applied. For instance, understanding psychological theories would be essential if the role focuses on mental health AI applications.
  • Ethical Considerations. Understanding ethical frameworks and guidelines for AI usage, especially if the technology impacts human well-being, is essential.

Soft Skills

  • Communication. The ability to articulate complex AI concepts in a way that non-experts can understand is invaluable.
  • Problem-Solving. The capability to think critically and solve problems at the intersection of technology and human needs.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration. This role often involves interfacing between various departments and experts, necessitating strong collaborative skills.

Psychological Acumen

  • Empathy and Emotional Intelligence. Understanding human emotions and behaviors can be a significant asset, especially when fine-tuning AI models to be more effective, ethical, and user-centric.
  • Adaptability. AI is a rapidly evolving field; thus, flexibility and a willingness to learn are crucial.

How Much Additional Training Does an AI Career Require?

1. Interdisciplinary Training

  • In-Depth Look. A robust educational program for transitioning into AI should ideally encompass elements of psychology, data science, ethics, and artificial intelligence. Basic proficiency in programming languages such as Python and a foundational grasp of algorithms are integral to effectively operating in AI environments.
  • Action Steps. Investigate universities or online platforms offering multidisciplinary courses that span these crucial areas. Existing mental health or psychology skills will significantly enrich an applicant’s ability to engage in ethical considerations surrounding AI, making them a compelling candidate for specialized job roles.
  • Relevant Resource. Stanford University’s “Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence” program is an exemplary course that integrates these domains, offering a broad educational foundation tailored for professionals like you who are looking to transition into AI (Stanford HAI, 2021).

2. Soft Skills Development

  • In-Depth Look. While machine learning and AI can handle the computational aspects, soft skills are necessary for ethical decision-making and human interaction. These skills include empathy, ethical reasoning, and excellent communication.
  • Action Steps. Participate in workshops or courses focused on developing leadership, ethical decision-making, and effective communication.

3. Certifications in AI Ethics

  • In-Depth Look. Certifications in AI Ethics focus on topics like data privacy, algorithmic fairness, and ethical AI development.
  • Action Steps. Identify relevant certification programs that focus on the ethical implications of AI, especially as they relate to healthcare. These could be academic programs or professional certifications from technology companies and nonprofits.

4. Networking

  • In-Depth Look. Networking is about forming mutually beneficial relationships. For someone transitioning roles, an interdisciplinary network can be invaluable.
  • Action Steps. Engage in conferences that attract professionals from both behavioral health and AI sectors. Use LinkedIn or other professional social networks to connect with people who are already in the roles you aspire to.

5. Consultancy and Advisory Roles

  • In-Depth Look. Consulting projects offer a sandbox to test skills and explore the field without fully committing to a new role.
  • Action Steps. Look for short-term consulting opportunities that require expertise in psychology and AI. This experience will be financially rewarding and offer a low-risk environment to gauge the applicant’s interest and aptitude for this career transition.

6. Continuous Learning

  • In-Depth Look. The fields of AI and healthcare are both prone to rapid advancements. Continuing education is not just beneficial; it’s essential.
  • Action Steps. Identify journals, webinars, and newsletters that focus on the intersection of AI and healthcare. Keep an eye out for new courses or certifications that can help you stay ahead of the curve.

Given these ranges, a rough estimate would be that someone starting from scratch could expect to spend anywhere from 3 to 8 years in formal education or equivalent experience, perhaps less with more intensive programs or self-study, to become a well-qualified Cognitive Orchestrator.


If you are a behavioral health professional pondering a career shift, your unique skill set makes you a strong candidate in the emerging world of Cognitive Orchestrators.

For behavioral health professionals contemplating a career shift, understanding psychology can offer unique insights into making AI models that are more ethical, effective, and attuned to human needs, thereby more able to mirror the values of the Fifth Industrial Revolution. Cognitive Orchestrators can contribute significantly.

For professionals considering a transition to AI and prompt engineering roles, staying informed is crucial. Be sure to regularly check, where we provide timely and evidence-based updates on career opportunities in the evolving landscape of technology in healthcare. Our platform offers extensive B2B training, publishing, and consulting services, and our newsletters keep more than 500,000 licensed behavioral and medical professionals in the loop. With training programs approved by multiple accrediting bodies, is a trusted resource for successfully navigating the future of AI careers in healthcare. In fact, a beginning AI-related course is available, approved for 2.5 CME contact hours by AAMCE and 2.5 CE credit hours by the APA, CSWB, NAADAC, and NBCC.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional career advice.

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