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.

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Essential Information

Both Bachelor in Child Development and Master in Behavior Analysis degree programs cover psychological and counseling techniques. Master's degree programs tend to focus more on research and hands-on practice, while bachelor's programs spend more time on fundamental principles of psychology and behavior analysis. Master's programs are often tailored to students with an undergraduate background in a related field.

Prerequisites for the bachelor's program are a GED or high school diploma, while a bachelor's degree, statement of interest, letters of recommendation or personal interview might be necessary for entry into the master's program. Program requirements include field training and a thesis, and some specializations include early childhood, school-age children and adolescents.

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 learn to implement plans for developing a child's strengths. They assess how certain factors such as ethnicity, social status and peers, affect a child's mental and physical well-being. Coursework focuses on physical, cognitive and emotional aspects of child development. Students develop strategies for improving learning and family relationships and research current issues and trends in child development. Topics covered include:

  • Educational psychology
  • Essentials of sociology
  • Guidance and discipline
  • Language development
  • Methods of inquiry in child development

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  • Behavioral Sciences, General
  • Biopsychology
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  • Environmental Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
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  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
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Master's Degree in Behavior Analysis

The practices and methods taught in a master's degree program will help students become familiar with the emotional concerns and dysfunctional behaviors of children and adolescents. Students investigate how to analyze and diagnose behavior problems, and come to appreciate how social and biological differences affect behavior. This degree program emphasizes all facets of behavior and mental health issues of children and adolescents. Master's degree programs explore principles of behavior analysis and modification as 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 other jobs exist in the field of child behavior. Educational facilities and mental health clinics seek the services of those who have a degree in this field. 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 22% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual wages for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors were $42,920.

Continuing Education

Doctoral programs exist for those wishing further education in behavior counseling or psychology. These programs further educate students in child development, mental health and care. Clinical training and classroom instruction provide students with advanced practical training and may lead to licensure as a psychologist.

Students who want to earn a child behavior specialist degree can pursue a bachelor's in child development or a masters in behavior analysis. Graduates can go on to pursue careers as a child life specialist or a therapeutic behavior specialist.

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