Career Information for a Degree in Behavioral Sciences

Degree programs in behavioral science can provide students with a broad-based, interdisciplinary background in anthropology, psychology and sociology, among other fields of study. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for anthropologists, human resources specialists and social workers.

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Overview of Behavioral Science Programs

An undergraduate major in behavioral science typically includes courses in anthropology, psychology, statistics and sociology. Depending on the curriculum, you may also pursue more specialized topics in health or social psychology, medical ethics or sociology, human development and research. Individual programs may allow for concentrations in community health, ethnic studies, gerontology or health services management, among other areas.

Learning outcomes include the ability to collect and analyze data, communicate with other people and solve real-world problems, possibly through an internship. In addition to applying to a master's program in a more focused field of study, qualified graduates may be prepared for a variety of related careers in business, the government or social services. Below are descriptions of three sample career options for behavioral science majors.

Anthropologist and Archaeologist

Anthropologists and archaeologists study the development of human cultures and behavior, from ancient hunter-gatherer societies to modern industrial civilizations. Some anthropologists specialize in cultural studies, and their work can include the social interactions of groups in non-industrialized or urban areas. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the usual requirement for obtaining a job, although some positions in this highly competitive field may be open to candidates with a master's degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than half of all anthropologists and archaeologists worked for the federal government or scientific research companies in 2010, with the remainder employed by consulting, educational or management consulting services. Between 2010 and 2020, the BLS projected a 21%, or faster-than-average, increase in job opportunities in the field. As of May 2010, anthropologists and archaeologists earned a median annual wage of $54,230, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Human Resource Specialist

Human resource specialists, such as those who work for employment services companies, recruit, screen and hire new employees. They may also conduct orientation or training, as well as oversee the paperwork and records associated with benefits and payroll. Areas of specialization can include labor relations and personnel recruitment.

A bachelor's degree, along with decision-making and interpersonal skills, is typically required to obtain a position as a human resource specialist. According to the BLS, a 21% increase in employment was expected from 2010 to 2020, with a 55% increase anticipated for those who work in employment services. In May 2010, the bureau also reported a median annual wage of $52,690 for those employed as human resource specialists ('www.bls.gov).

Social Worker

Direct service social workers identify and provide assistance to adults and children who need help with everyday life activities. They are different from licensed clinical social workers, who diagnose and treat behavioral, emotional and social issues in individuals and families. While direct service workers may be able to obtain a position with a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work or sociology, licensed clinical social workers must have a master's degree.

As of May 2010, a little more than half of all social workers were employed by individual and family services or state governments, with the remainder working for local governments, schools or health care facilities. As reported by the BLS, a 25% increase in job opportunities was anticipated for social workers from 2010 to 2020, with increases of 31% and 34% projected for mental health/substance abuse and healthcare social workers respectively. In May 2010, social workers earned a median annual wage of $42,480, also according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

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