Child Behavior Specialist Degree Program Overviews
Child behavior specialists analyze behavior to detect emotional, physical or mental problems in children. They employ coping mechanisms and improvement techniques in an effort to detect problems causing behavior, as well as improve behavior. Degree programs at the bachelor's and master's level are available for child behavior specialists.
Bachelor's Degree in Child Development
Bachelor's degree programs in child development train prospective behavior specialists in the foundations of child development and child assessment. Students explore methods for assessing child growth and behavior, as well as implement plans for developing a child's strengths. They assess how outside influences, such as ethnicity, social status and peers, affect a child's mental and physical wellbeing. Some the major concentrations in this degree program focus on early childhood and school-age children and adolescents. Eligible students must have gained his or her GED or high school diploma in order to enter this degree program.
The coursework focuses on child development including physical, cognitive and emotional development. Students develop strategies for improving learning and family relationships, as well as research current issues and trends found in children. Topics covered throughout the program include:
- Educational psychology
- Essentials of sociology
- Guidance and discipline
- Language development
- Methods of inquiry in child development
Popular Career Options
In addition to child behavior specialists, various job positions exist in the field of child behavior. Educational facilities and mental health clinics seek out the services of those who have gained their degree in this topic. Some popular career options are:
- Child life specialist
- Center directors
- Therapeutic behavior specialist
Master's Degree in Behavior Analysis
The practices and methods taught to students in a master's degree will help students become familiar with the mental aliases and dysfunctional behavior of children and adults. Students investigate how to analyze and diagnose behavior problems, as well as how social and biological differences affect behavior. This degree program places a heavy emphasis on understanding all facets of behavior and mental health issues within children and adolescents.
In addition to a bachelor's degree, prospective students must submit a statement of interest and letters of recommendation. Depending on the school, the master's degree program may also require a personal interview.
Master's degree programs explore the principles of behavior analysis and modification through psychological and counseling techniques. In addition to classroom lectures, students complete field training and a thesis. Topics found in the program include:
- Research methods
- Lifespan development
- Applied analysis of behavior
- Child behavior disorders
- Behavior analysis in schools
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the employment of counselors, including substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, would increase by 18% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). In May 2009, the BLS reported the mean annual wages for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors as $40,420.
Doctoral programs exist for those looking to further their education in behavior counseling or psychology. These programs further educate students in the areas of child mental health development and care. Clinical training and classroom instruction on psychology topics provide students with advanced practical training in mental health and behavior disorders and may lead to licensure as a psychologist.
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