Applied behavioral science specialists provide counseling and developmental assistance to adults and children based on observations of their behavior. Embarking on a career as an applied behavioral science specialist can begin with a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology.
Employment of professionals in the fields of psychology, counseling and social services is expected to grow faster than the national average for all occupations through at least 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For example, jobs for behavioral disorder counselors are projected to increase by 22%, while employment growth of 19% is forecast for psychologists.
The aging of the baby boom generation and expanding coverage of mental health disorders under health insurance plans are among the factors cited for the projections of rising employment in the coming years.
Applied behavioral science specialists develop and implement treatment plans for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They may work with different populations or specialize in a particular area, such as autism. Some bachelor’s degree holders may start their career as an assistant applied behavioral science specialist. Their duties can include training other residential staff and performing assessments under the supervision of a senior specialist.
Professionals employed as applied behavioral science specialists may oversee clinic-based or residential programs. They may counsel clients in group or one-on-one settings; some positions include extensive work with a client’s family.
Applied behavioral science specialists may work in offices, group homes, mental health clinics, hospitals or with human or social services agencies. They often are required to travel to clients’ homes for monitoring, case reviews and other purposes.
A variety of factors determine earning potential, including an individual’s level of educational attainment and work experience, as well as regional market conditions, and employer type and size.
For example, counseling psychologists had an average annual wage of $78,690 as of May 2016, while behavioral disorder counselors earned $44,160 a year on average, according to BLS statistics.
Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research on salary data.
Education and Training
Entry-level applied behavioral science specialist jobs generally require a bachelor’s degree. Curriculum in these programs can include lifespan development and psychology, learning and motivation, social psychology and abnormal psychology.
A degree program in applied psychology should prepare graduates to:
- Master the distinctions between accepted theories of human behavior
- Apply critical-thinking skills to determine testing reliability and validity
- Comprehend basic psychological processes
- Effectively communicate with clients, colleagues and supervisors
Bachelor’s degree holders may start out in an assistant role and advance to senior-level positions by earning a master’s degree. Some employers may offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs to eligible employees for continuing education.
The Path to an Applied Behavioral Science Specialist Career
If you have excellent communication skills, an interest in human behavior, a strong desire to help people, and the relevant educational qualifications and training, a career as an applied behavioral science specialist may prove to be personally and professionally rewarding.