If you're interested in the brain processes that affect mood and behavior and want to have a positive impact on the lives of others, psychological behavioral studies may be a good fit for you. Read on to learn more about degree and licensing requirements for practicing psychologists and psychology teachers.
Behavioral psychology is a field of science that examines the relationship between human behavior and other factors, such as environment or brain function. Psychologists in this sub-field look at the underlying causes of behavioral problems in an effort to help individuals improve their lives. Earning a graduate degree in psychological behavior studies could lead to a career as a practicing psychologist, professor of psychology or applied psychology researcher.
If you choose to become a psychologist who focuses on treating individuals with behavioral issues, your job duties would include assessing patients, developing therapeutic treatment plans and counseling individuals or groups. In this position, you might be employed in a health clinic, school, correctional facility or counseling center. Alternatively, you might choose to enter into private practice.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed clinical, school and counseling psychologists was expected to increase by 11% from 2012-2022, which is about average compared to all other occupations. As of May 2013, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $67,760. If you're interested in teaching psychology at the postsecondary level, the BLS notes that the number of employed postsecondary educators was projected to grow by 19% from 2012-2022, which is faster than average. The median annual salary for university-level psychology teachers was $68,980 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov).
Most careers in this field require a doctoral degree. You could pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Behavioral Psychology or Behavioral Analysis; you could also enroll in a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program. In both Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs, you'll study the research techniques associated with behavioral assessment techniques, behavioral intervention plans and the history of behavioral analysis. The American Psychological Association notes that Ph.D. programs are often more research-intensive, while Psy.D. programs focus on clinical training.
In order to practice psychology and clinically treat patients, you must be licensed as a psychologist in your state. While licensing criteria vary, common requirements include completion of a doctoral program, 1-2 years of work experience and a state-administered exam. Individuals who study a specialized area of psychology, such as behavioral psychology, can also become board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). To qualify for the ABPP's cognitive and behavioral psychology certification, you complete graduate-level behavior psychology coursework, as well as an internship and two years of experience with a focus in this specialty field. An oral exam is also required.