Behavior Analyst: Job Description and Education Requirements
Behavior analysts study behaviors. They may assess individuals with behavioral problems, study changes the environment has on behavior or implement plans to fix bad behaviors. They work in either a research capacity or in the area of applied behavior analysis, which takes the principles learned in research and uses them to address behavioral issues and facilitate changes in behavior.
Job Description of a Behavior Analyst
Behavior analysts focus on behaviors that can be readily observed and measured. As researchers, they conduct studies that measure specific influences, such as the environment, on behavior or look for new ways to solve behavior problems in specific audiences, such as school children or the elderly.
Behavior analysts often work for government agencies, community centers, schools and hospitals where they help in the treatment of various mental health issues, particularly autism, brain injuries and developmental disabilities. They may assist individuals in identifying their needs and formulating treatment plans to manage problematic behaviors. Behavior analysts also monitor the progress of the individuals under their care and collaborate with family members or other care providers to determine how to best address long-term individual goals.
Behavior analysts fall within the larger field of clinical, counseling and school psychologists, which is expected to see an 11% increase in employment overall between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of May 2012, these psychologists earn a median annual income of $67,650, states the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Education Requirements for a Behavior Analyst
Behavior analysis training programs are available as both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Some behavior analysts may choose to complete undergraduate programs in a related field, such as psychology or education, before earning a master's degree in behavior analysis. Specific education requirements may vary by employer. These programs often include coursework in behavioral assessment, research methods, interventions, ethics in psychology and behavioral consultations.
Employers may require that behavior analysts be certified or eligible for certification. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) offers two kinds of certification for behavior analysts - Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) (www.bacb.com). The BCaBA credential is conferred on applicants who have earned at least a bachelor's degree in behavior analysis or a related field, such as education, psychology or medicine, have completed 135 hours of behavior analysis coursework and fulfilled certain experience requirements. For the BCBA credential, three options are available. In all cases, an applicant must have earned at least a bachelor's and a master's degree in behavior analysis or a related field and have fulfilled specific experience requirements.
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