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Behavioral Science Careers

Thanks to the popularity of economists like Dan Ariely and best-selling books like “Predictably Irrational,” “Nudge” and “Blink,” the behavioral sciences field has captured headlines and the popular imagination in recent years. Behavioral sciences fall under the umbrella of “life, physical, and social science occupations,” a category where the BLS projects job growth to be seven percent from 2014 to 2024.1 This growth rate rivals the average for that ten-year period.

Popular Behavioral Science Specializations

Fields in the behavioral sciences include sociology, anthropology and psychology, as well as branches of economics, biology, human resources and political science. The breadth of the discipline and universality of the study of human actions leads to an interesting array of vocation options. For example, policy-makers and government institutions naturally seek behavioral scientists’ work due to its potential to positively influence health, nutritional, lifestyle and civic choices. At the same time, their work is sought by educators, environmentalists, managers, and healthcare and financial services professionals.

Why Choose a Behavioral Science Degree?

Graduates with behavioral sciences degrees acquire training in effective communication, group dynamics and the study of human behavior. They strive to make a positive impact on the world, often ending up in nonprofit, governmental, corporate, educational and other settings.

At NLU specifically, degree-holders in applied behavioral sciences are equipped with insights and skills about how to maximize the contributions of individuals and groups to diverse workplaces. They have gone on to assume roles like human resources coordinator, internal training specialist, social services case manager, project manager and community liaison, to name a few.

For more about what attracts people to study and work in this area, see “What Is Behavioral Science?”

Top Job Searches

The job landscape in the behavioral sciences contains roles, for example, like those found in the current top job-related search results on PayScale for “behavioral science”:2

  • Behavioral health technician
  • Biological science laboratory technician
  • Medical science liaison
  • Behavioral health director

A Closer Look at Behavioral Health Jobs

A quick look at job descriptions in the behavioral field yields a common theme of helping people. Given the mission of behavioral science to alter behavior, graduates pursuing careers have multiple options to positively impact the lives of people who have disabilities or other challenges that interfere with daily societal functioning. Consider the roles of five different behavioral health jobs: Behavior analysts, applied behavior analysts, behavior specialists, behavior therapists, behavioral health technicians.

Behavior analysts, according to PayScale survey data, earn an average of $54,000 a year (U.S.) depending on region and length of career.3 The same survey shows the vast majority are women, and their job satisfaction is high. The primary duty of behavior analysts is to work with teachers and parents to create/oversee behavioral programs, assess these programs, and help evaluate therapy.4

Applied behavior analysts, who help patients with mental and social disabilities, have a median salary slightly lower than regular behavioral analysts at $49,000.5 Also a field dominated by women, their work with autism and other developmental disabilities tends to correspond to high job satisfaction.6

Behavior specialists earn an average of $40,000 per year in the U.S.7 These professionals work primarily in the healthcare industry to provide one-on-one therapy and support for people who have disorders like autism or OCD. Case management, conducting assessments and collecting data are part of the job description, along with analyzing behavior trends and creating behavioral plans for people with developmental disabilities.8

Behavior therapists earn an average of $15.94 per hour depending on location, experience and employer.9 Predominantly women who report high job satisfaction, behavior therapists typically work in clinics or schools directly with individuals and with their families to help support a patient’s growth. Main responsibilities include creating customized treatment plans for individuals or groups, evaluating progress against those plans, and helping change patient behaviors specific to a given environment (home, school).10

Behavioral health technicians earn an average of $12.69 per hour, with little variation for experience.11 Working with licensed therapists or nurses, behavioral health technicians help people who need behavioral development and modification. Their main duties are to document treatment interventions, organize recreational activities, help mentally disabled patients with special needs, and help ensure medication intake.12

Source References [+]

1. “Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations.”

2. “Search results for behavioral science.”

3. “Behavior Analyst Salary.” PayScale.

4. “Behavior Analyst Salary.” PayScale.

5. “Applied Behavior Analyst Salary.” PayScale.

6. “Applied Behavior Analyst Salary.” PayScale.

7. “Behavior Specialist Salary.” PayScale.

8. “Behavior Specialist Salary.” PayScale.

9. “Behavior Therapist Salary.” PayScale.

10. “Behavior Therapist Salary.” PayScale.

11. “Behavioral Health Technician Salary.” PayScale.

12. “Behavioral Health Technician Salary.” PayScale.


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