What Is a Behavior Specialist? - Job Description & Training

Research the requirements and opportunities for becoming a behavioral specialist. Learn about the licensing and job growth to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Applied Behavioral Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

A behavioral specialist can work in a variety of environments to consult, diagnose, and treat mental health and behavioral issues through individual intervention or group support. Take a look at the chart below for an overview of this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum; occasionally a master's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Psychology, Social Work, or Mental Health Counseling
Key Skills Interpersonal skills, strong communication skills, and an even temper
Licensure or Certification Licensed Mental Health Counselor or Behavior Analyst credentials may be needed
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 23% growth (all mental health counselors)
Average Salary (2018)** $39,878

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Glassdoor.com

What Does a Behavioral Specialist Do?

A behavioral specialist is a mental health professional who evaluates and develops treatment plans for patients who pose a risk to themselves or others through their conduct. This may be done through assessment, analysis and intervention. This includes addressing the desire of the patient to correct their own behavior and adjusting treatment as necessary to facilitate recovery. There are careers both for working with adults, such as those with substance abuse addictions or prior trauma, and also with children who may have suffered abuse or developmental delays. Regardless of the age of the subject, you will often be working with families in addition to the patient.

What Kind of Background Do I Need?

Many jobs require at least a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, or a related field. Some positions require a master's degree and previous experience in behavioral management. Many states require licensure from the National Board for Certified Counselors or the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Many positions also require a clean background or fingerprint check as well.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The BLS reports that employment of mental health counselors is accelerating faster than most professions and is expected to continue to do so. This is in part because a shift in the perception of the criminal justice system as states work to address the root cause of behavioral disorders rather than strictly punishing it. Furthermore, most workers only remain in the field for a few years, so there is often a need for new employees.

Where Might I Work?

Positions in underserved rural communities have an especially strong outlook, according to the BLS, however, there are career opportunities all across the United States. A behavioral analyst might work for a government agency, a school system, in a healthcare facility, or an inpatient center. This is usually a full-time position and may require night or weekend work.

What Are Some Related Careers?

Similar careers may include rehabilitation counseling or school counseling for those with a master's degree. If you have a bachelor's degree, you may consider working as a probation officer or social service manager. Other comparable positions may include social workers, community health workers, and psychologists depending on your level of education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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