If you’re drawn to a helping profession, one area you may have imagined yourself working is one-on-one with children or adults who are experiencing a mental health challenge. In broad terms, counseling is one field that allows you to do that. Behavior analysis falls into this area. This rapidly growing field focuses on human behavior: observing and assessing it, and taking steps to help influence and improve it.
Typically, to become a certified or licensed counselor of any kind, including a behavioral analyst, you’ll need an advanced degree. So if you are considering getting your master’s, behavioral science might be the perfect fit for your career goals.
What Can I Do With a Behavioral Analysis Degree at the Master’s Level?
One of the defining characteristics of a graduate-level program in behavioral analysis, such as National University’s Master of Science in Applied Behavioral Analysis, is that it prepares you for certification by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Board-certified behavioral analysts are qualified to have a private practice.
According to the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board, behavioral analysts are most commonly found working with patients with autism or other intellectual and developmental disorders. In fact, the amount of children and adults on the autism spectrum has risen in recent years. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in 59 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. And the CDC also reports that in the next decade, more than 500,000 teens with autism will enter adulthood.
Professionals in applied behavioral analysis may also sometimes work with teens or adults to help them overcome addictive behaviors; the rise in opioid use in the United States is one suspected reason behind the growing demand for counselors in this area.
If you’re looking for more specifics when asking “What can I do with a behavioral analysis degree?” here are a few examples of where you might be able to provide services:
- Mental health agency.
- Residential treatment center.
- Correctional facility.
- Government agency.
- Private practice.
What Can I Do With a Behavioral Analysis Degree at the Undergraduate Level?
If your end goal is to work in counseling but you need to earn your bachelor’s degree first, studying applied behavior science or another psychology-related field is a first step in the right direction.
With a bachelor’s degree, you’ll likely be qualified to work as an assistant to a behavior analyst. This role in itself can be quite fulfilling, but it can also serve as a foundation for your future plans: gaining applied behavioral analysis experience with clients in a professional environment will be incredibly helpful to your advanced classes and your career in general.
What is the Job Outlook for Applied Behavior Science Careers?
There’s a significant demand for professionals with applied behavior science backgrounds — and in the psychology field in general. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the need for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will grow 23% within the next decade. This is much faster than the 7% growth of the average occupation.
What Do You Learn in an Applied Behavioral Science Program?
As you’re working toward your master’s, behavioral science courses at this level will likely cover topics such as client assessment and observation, treatment tactics and strategies, and parent/teacher collaboration and consulting. As many behavioral analysts work in schools or with school-age children in other settings, you may also take courses that specifically focus on learning the norms and integrating behavior analysis into these environments.
How Do I Become Certified as a Behavioral Analyst?
Many specific positions in the health and human services field require a certification from a professional organization before someone can practice in them. For behavior analysts, the certifying board is the BACB. With this certification, you can provide behavioral analysis services as an independent practitioner.
To become certified as a behavioral analyst, you’ll need to meet a few requirements:
- Earn a master’s degree from an accredited, BACB-verified institution.
- Take the BACB-designated coursework (earning a grade C or better).
- Complete the required amount of supervised work experience hours as outlined by the BACB.
- Pass the BACB exam.
If you’re interested in a career as a behavioral analyst, visit our MS in Applied Behavioral Analysis program page for details or to contact us.