Behavior Analyst
How to Become a

Behavior Analyst

The complete career guide to be a Behavior Analyst: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $45,080
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 19.6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Investigative
    Career Attribute

Behavior analysts study behaviors, record findings, and analyze findings to find ways of adapting behaviors to achieve specific outcomes. For example, a behavior analyst may work with children with developmental or behavioral disabilities, helping them adjust their behaviors to improve learning.


What is a Behavior Analyst?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in behavior analyst roles:

  • Observe and document natural behaviors to better understand causes and motivations
  • Conduct experiments to determine how different factors influence behavior
  • Apply learnings from research and experiments to real-life scenarios to observe outcomes
  • Suggest modifications that have been proven to promote or result in positive outcomes
  • Monitor progress of implemented solutions, and adjust methods when required

A Day in the Life

Behavior analysts research behaviors and the things that influence behaviors. For example, if common behavior is for people to speed down a stretch of road where accidents happen frequently, behavior analysts would observe the behavior, hypothesize reasons why the behavior occurs, and suggest possible solutions for correcting the behavior. They may recommend installation of a sign that projects speed and indicates when a car is speeding. Then, they measure reactions to the installation to see if it encourages people to change their behavior—in this case, reducing speeds.

By utilizing a speed projector, behavior analysts can alter behaviors from negative—speeding—to positive—reducing speeds to the speed limit. These types of analysis and experiments can be applied to a variety of scenarios. Behavior analysts work in schools with children suffering from behavioral or developmental disabilities, helping them find ways to alter their behaviors for improved learning. They also work in business, teaching companies how to encourage more productivity from employees.

Behavior analysts usually work in one of two disciplines: experimental behavior analysis or applied behavior analysis. Those who work in experimental analysis observe behaviors and conduct research and tests to evaluate how different things alter behaviors. Applied analysts use the knowledge produced by experimental analysts to implement behavior change control techniques, recommending to patients ways to alter their own behaviors, or recommending effective changes to policies and procedures.

Typical Work Schedule

For the most part, behavior analysts work full-time during normal business hours. However, behavior analysts that work directly with patients may need to be available for appointments outside of normal business hours to accommodate school or work schedules.

Typical Employers

Behavior analysts may be employed to work for a variety of different employers in different industries. Many work with consulting agencies and provide behavior analysis and adaptation consulting to government agencies or businesses. Some may work in private practices and take on individual patients. Others work for schools, mental health facilities, or substance abuse centers, providing counseling and advice for individuals with learning disabilities, substance abuse problems, or behavioral disorders.


How To Become a Behavior Analyst

The first step in becoming a behavior analyst is earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, behavior analysis, or a related field. It helps if aspiring behavior analysts can major in behavior analysis throughout their educational career, but it’s not critical if you’re struggling to find a degree program that meets your needs. Since a master’s degree and significant professional experience ae also required, earning a general psychology major as an undergraduate will not limit your future work opportunities.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to move into a master’s degree program. For a master’s degree, it may be more important to find a program that’s focused on behavior analysis. Individuals can become behavior analysts with master’s degrees in related disciplines, but programs in behavior analysis may be better prepared to help you find internships and residencies after graduation. Many states require behavior analysts to be licensed to work in the field, so post-graduation opportunities are crucial.

To become licensed—if required by your state—you need to have at least a master’s degree. Additionally, you’ll need to earn supervised experience by working alongside professional and licensed behavior analysts. For the first year after graduating, you’ll need to participate in an internship, earning 750 hours of supervised experience. Once that is complete, you’ll need to move into a residency position, practicing under an experienced behavior analyst for another two years, or 2,000 hours.


Behavior Analyst Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$32,720

Average

$45,080

High Range

$68,790

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$16/hr

Average

$22/hr

High Range

$33/hr

How do Behavior Analyst salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Behavior Analyst's can make an average annual salary of $45,080, or $22 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $32,720 or $16 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #449 Nationally for All Careers


Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Behavior Analyst. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.


Highest Education Among Behavior Analysts

  • 5.4%   Doctorate
  • 48%   Masters
  • 25.1%   Bachelors
  • 5.4%   Associates
  • 10.1%   College
  • 5%   High School
  • 1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

134,500

2024 Est. Jobs

160,900

Job Growth Rate

19.6%

Est. New Jobs

26,400

How does Behavior Analyst job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 26,400 jobs for a total of 160,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 19.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #54 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Behavior Analysts

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 23,100 7,600 8%
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 11,500 4,600 5%
Self-employed workers 10,200 1,900 2%

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