For students and career changers interested in human behavior, a career as a behavior analyst offers an opportunity to work in a variety of service settings while providing support to individuals and families attempting to understand and modify their behavior. Whether you are interested in working with children or adults, here are some key points to consider about the field of behavior analysis.
Professional Settings and Job Overview
Certified behavior analysts work one-on-one in an office or home setting, as well as in institutional settings such as hospitals, schools, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and outpatient clinics. Analysts may specialize in a specific population, such as autistic children, juvenile offenders or individuals struggling with chemical dependency issues. Some behavior analysts may also offer ongoing educational assistance to community groups, parent support groups and mental health treatment teams.
The work is rewarding and challenging, requiring a great deal of patience, knowledge and understanding, as well as a strong commitment to ongoing professional development to maintain credentials, including certification.
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) offers various certification levels for behavior analysts based on whether they have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Attaining certification typically requires professionals to pass a standardized exam and commit to ongoing professional development.
When comparing degree programs, whether on-campus or online, it is important to consider issues such as national rankings, regional accreditation, and accreditation from credentialing agencies such as the BACB and the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Building a strong reputation is vital for professional success, so you want to be sure your degree commands respect.
In addition to contributing to future competency, effective degree programs often provide opportunities for practical training, such as mentoring with an expert in the field, or ongoing access to research databases.
Professional organizations such as the ABAI also offer networking events, host conferences and webinars, and post job boards and discussion groups.
Is a Career as a Certified Behavior Analyst Right for You?
Certified behavior analysts provide a wide variety of sought-after skills in today’s society. Through a deep understanding of the theory of human behavior, analysts examine behaviors and motivators to help people from all walks of life modify behaviors and achieve related goals and positive outcomes. In addition, behavior analysts work with parents to better understand and address the needs of their children, including the needs of specific populations such as youngsters with autism.
Through ongoing professional education, behavior analysts are continuously developing their research skills and practical techniques to best meet the needs of their clients. Certified behavior analysts may also act as community educators for parenting groups and addiction support groups, among other organizations.
Behavior analysis is a diverse and complex field of psychology that can offer opportunities for a challenging and rewarding career to individuals with the relevant training and educational qualifications.