Child Behavior Specialist Degree Program Overviews

Child behavior specialists analyze behavior to detect emotional, physical or mental problems in children and adolescents. Students interested in this field can pursue a bachelor's degree in child development or a master's degree in behavior analysis.

Essential Information

Both Bachelor in Child Development and Master in Behavior Analysis programs cover psychological and counseling techniques, though master's programs are often more focused on research and hands-on practice in the field than bachelor's programs. Students in bachelor's programs in child development spend more time on the fundamental principles of psychology and behavior analysis; master's programs are often tailored to students with an undergraduate background in a related field.

  • Program Levels in Child Behavior: Bachelor's degree, Master's Degree
  • Child Behavior Program Fields: Child Development, Behavior Analysis
  • Prerequisites: GED or high school diploma, bachelor's degree, statement of interest, letters of recommendation, personal interview
  • Program Specializations: Early Childhood, School-age Children, Adolescents, among others
  • Other Requirements: Field training, thesis

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 well-being. 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

Master's Degree in Behavior Analysis

The practices and methods taught to students in a master's degree program 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. Master's degree programs explore the principles of behavior analysis and modification through psychological and counseling techniques. Topics found in the program include:

  • Research methods
  • Lifespan development
  • Applied analysis of behavior
  • Child behavior disorders
  • Behavior analysis in schools

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors will increase by 31% from 2012-2022 ( In May 2014, the BLS reported that the median annual wages for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors were $39,270.

Continuing Education

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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