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What can You Do with a Background in Behavior Analysis?

If you’re thinking about a career in the field of psychology, you may be wondering what kinds of jobs are available. While it’s only one aspect of study, behavior analysis is a career possibility you may want to consider.

According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), behavior analysis is the scientific study of how people learn and behave. Want to know more about what this would look like as a future career for you? Read on.

A bachelor’s degree with coursework in applied behavioral analysis and supervised experience in an area of practice, such as special education, rehabilitation, social work or behavior analysis, would help you get started in the field. According to BACB, an educational background would open the door to becoming a board-certified assistant behavior analyst.

Earning certification as a board-certified behavior analyst would require either a master’s or a doctorate degree. According to the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (FABA), in addition to focusing on an area of practice, most behavior analysts further specialize in an area of study, such as autism, developmental disabilities, geriatrics, mental health or head trauma, for example.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected growth for psychologists at 19% between 2014 and 2024. In terms of salary, the BLS reports psychologists earned an average wage of $94,560 per year in 2016. The highest 10% earned around $127,710, while the lowest 10% earned $41,690. Top industries employing psychologists include outpatient care centers, educational support services and local government. 

A study from BACB with Burning Glass, “U.S. Behavior Analysts Workforce: Understanding the National Demand for Behavior Analysts,” found that job postings for credentialed behavior analysts have doubled between 2012 and 2014, with demand increasing in almost every state. Many opportunities fell into three categories: healthcare, education services and social service organizations.

Salary potential and employment opportunities may vary depending on factors such as a candidate’s education and experience, as well as regional market conditions. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research.

Career Possibilities in Behavior Analysis

Board-certified behavior analysts typically work in teams of professionals and can work in homes, hospitals, clinics and classrooms, according to FABA. They analyze and determine the cause of behavior problems in order to develop effective treatments. On any given day, behavior analysts may be conducting interviews with parents, caregivers, teachers or therapists of patients to determine the catalyst for certain behaviors or to determine how best to motivate a change in behavior.

In many cases, they are also responsible for observing the behavior themselves. A behavior analyst will see through the entire process of handling behavioral issues and improving human performance, even implementing intervention plans and evaluating whether treatments have been successful.

According to the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, there are many areas of studies to consider in this field, including aging, autism, basic research, brain and spinal cord injury, clinical therapy, education and curriculum development, behavioral economic, gambling, health, neuroscience, behavior in organizations, parenting, animal behavior, philosophy/history, safety, special education, verbal behavior and language, environment/green issues and cultural practices.

With this basic knowledge of what a career in behavior analysis can look like, it’s up to you to take the steps to make this field of psychology your future.

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