Salary and Career Information for a Behavioral Psychologist

Behavioral psychologists need significant formal education. Learn about degree programs, job duties, salary projections and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Behavioral psychologists specialize in studying and treating behaviors, such as addiction. To work as a psychologist, you typically need a master's or doctoral degree and state licensure.

Essential Information

Behavioral psychologists work one-on-one with patients to treat mental and behavioral disorders. Most are self-employed and work in private practitioners' offices, but these psychologists can also work in schools, businesses, and consulting facilities. They need a specialist, master's, or doctoral degree in psychology, depending on the job they perform. Most states require licensing or certification to use the term 'psychologist,' but requirements vary.

Required Education Graduate degree in a relevant field
Other Requirements Licensing or certification in most states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 19% for all psychologists*
Median Wage (2015) $72,580 for all psychologists*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Behavioral Psychologist Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all psychologists earned a median annual salary of $72,580 in May 2015. The same month, the BLS reported that behavioral disorder counselors earned a median wage of $39,980 a year.

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Behavioral Psychologist Career Information

A behavioral psychologist's general career focus is to observe and interpret an individual's behavior to postulate theories and establish solutions to psychological disorders. Psychologists work closely with patients on a daily basis, providing them with therapy to control and resolve issues such as anxiety disorder, addiction, and phobia. Along with using interview and observation to gather information about a patient, psychologists also might use laboratory testing, such as psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, hypnosis, or biofeedback. They also attempt to obtain a greater understanding of human behavior by applying individual findings to broader cause-and-effect theories in the scientific field.

Job Outlook

Behavioral psychologists typically work in elementary and secondary schools, businesses, clinics and physicians' offices. According to the BLS, approximately one-third of all psychologists were self-employed in 2014, and of those, most were private practitioners. The BLS has projected that employment for all types of psychologists will grow by about 19% from 2014 to 2024.

Comparatively, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors' employment could increase by about 22% during the same time frame, per the BLS. This growth will be driven by an increased attention to students' mental health and drug usage, a growing elderly population coping with the stresses of aging and consumers suffering from the bleak economic climate. In all industries, behavioral scientists with a doctoral degree should enjoy the best job prospects, and those experienced in computer science and quantitative research might qualify for a wider variety of job opportunities.

While some behavioral psychologists work in private practices, they can also work in schools, clinics or doctor's offices. Usually they conduct therapy sessions with patients, hoping to gain an understanding and offer resolution for behavioral issues. They may use psychoanalytic techniques, which would be learned in a master's or doctoral degree program.

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