Behavior analysts study behaviors. They might 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 principles learned in research and uses them to facilitate changes in behavior. Aspiring behavior analysts must complete bachelor's or master's degree programs in a relevant field and might earn professional certifications.
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 or hospitals where they help in the treatment of various mental health issues, particularly autism, brain injuries, and developmental disabilities. They might assist individuals in identifying their needs and formulating treatment plans to manage problematic behaviors. Behavior analysts also monitor the progress of individuals under their care and collaborate with family members or other care providers to determine how to best address long-term individual goals.
As of January 2016, behavior analysts earned a median annual income of $53,845, according to payscale.com.
Behavior analysis training programs are available as both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Some behavior analysts choose to complete an undergraduate program in a related field, such as psychology or education, before earning a master's degree in behavior analysis. These programs often include coursework in behavioral assessment, research methods, interventions, ethics in psychology, and behavioral consultations.
Employers might 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). 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 have 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 master's degree in behavior analysis or a related field and have fulfilled specific experience requirements.