10 Best Careers with a PhD in Behavioral Health
With a doctorate in behavioral health, especially a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), an individual becomes trained in all aspects of observing and understanding human behavior. This qualifies them to research human nature on a small or large scale, as well as publish findings about why people do the things they do.
While many PhD holders go on to teach in their specific field, those with PhDs in behavioral health are uniquely suited for lucrative careers in a broad range of industries, from mental health treatment to product engineering.
Those with doctoral degrees have the lowest levels of unemployment and will enjoy some of the highest earnings over the course of their careers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Let’s explore some of the non-professorial or academic research-focused roles that could be filled by someone with a PhD in behavioral health.
Wellness Program Consultant
Wellness program consultants assist companies and large organizations in developing and implementing broad health and wellness programs among their employees, monitoring adherence and results and recommending adjustments to further ensure compliance with programs. Depending on the individual’s training and interests, they could specialize in understanding and influencing particular types of behavior, such as focusing on nutrition, emotional health or exercise.
While these individuals may work within organizations, they’ll likely find the most success as independent consultants and researchers.
Salary range: $75,000-$100,000
Behavioral Health Therapist
Behavioral health therapists work with individual clients and patients to observe and track their behavior and response to various events in life, making recommendations to modify reactions and helping make behavior modifications to improve emotional and mental health.
They will most frequently work within institutions, though they could establish their own practices, but it’s important to note that additional licensing and certification may be needed in their state.
Salary range: $75,000-$170,000
Medical Science Liaison
Working within companies that develop and sell pharmaceutical products, medical devices and other healthcare-related items, medical science liaisons maintain contact with physicians and others within the relevant field to ensure their employer’s products are used effectively and advise their contacts on new data or upcoming advances in treatment.
These individuals will most frequently work within drug companies or medical device manufacturers, though they could also work in biotechnology and related fields.
Salary range: $100,000-$120,000
Director of Public Health
Often working for state and local governments or federal agencies, public health directors are responsible for the management of public health programs and organizations. Depending on the size of their departments (these are often run on a county-wide level), these individuals will direct and/or participate in public health awareness programs and events, as well as monitoring and reporting information on the state of local public health.
Public health directors will usually work for government organizations.
Salary range: $70,000-$100,000
Health Policy Researcher
Health policy researchers use math and scientific statistical analysis methods to explore, understand and model the effects of political and legislative forces on the entire healthcare landscape. They analyze impacts on states and healthcare organizations and make recommendations to further the public good and/or their employers’ organizational goals.
While they often work within governmental organizations, they are most often employed by insurance providers and medical groups.
Salary range: $70,000-$100,000
Health Services Analyst
Often working within organizations that provide healthcare and therapeutic services, these scientists take a data-driven approach to understanding the overall effectiveness of the services provided by the employer, as well as ensuring adherence to regulations and established standards. They compile reports and explain results to other members of the staff and may make recommendations for improvement.
These individuals will most often work within large healthcare organizations.
Salary range: $85,000-$100,000
Community Health Program Director
Most frequently serving this role at a nonprofit, a community health program director manages all facets, both internal and external, of community health and advocacy programs. Potential organizations include those serving at-risk groups, such as victims of domestic violence, those with autism or individuals battling addiction.
While they may find opportunities in the business sector, these individuals will usually work within the nonprofit space.
Salary range: $70,000-$95,000
Behavioral Data Scientist
A role that’s very much in demand among companies that use algorithms and machine learning to support their primary business functions, which is most companies that produce any goods or services for public consumption, behavioral data scientists bridge the gap between numbers and human behavior. They use advanced analytics and their knowledge of why people do what they do to develop systems and make recommendations to support organizational goals.
As with most jobs related to data science, these individuals are in high demand all across the U.S. and global economy.
Salary range: $115,000-$130,000
Social scientists use their background in behavioral health, combined with research into specific behaviors and decision-making to develop a deep understanding of human behavior as it relates to an employer’s products, goals or other business objectives. They then explain results to teams within the organization, making recommendations around project changes, offerings or other business metrics.
They’ll find the bulk of opportunities within the private sector, particularly in technology and finance companies.
Salary range: $100,000-$175,000
Using both psychology and advanced mathematics, psychometricians analyze data relating to intellect, personality, mental and emotional health and other factors as outlined by the organization’s goals. Their assessments often are used in admissions in academic settings or hiring and promotions within companies.
They work primarily in higher education, though there also are opportunities either within or independently advising large companies or the military.
Salary range: $90,000-$140,000
Getting a PhD, any PhD, is a grueling and time-intensive prospect, and when the program centers around observing human behavior, which isn’t always pretty, if someone makes it all the way to the end of their educational journey, it’s clear they’re quite passionate about understanding why we humans do what we do.
As long as there are people and companies, organizations and agencies that are centered on providing those people with goods and services, demand will always be high for experts on human behavior, how to influence it and how to make the best of human nature.
- Note: Information on job descriptions and salary range was gathered from Indeed and Glassdoor in late February 2019.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rate by Educational Attainment. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm