How to Become a Behavior Analyst

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that almost one in five US adults has a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. In recent times, many of these affected Americans have benefited from working with behavior analysts. (

The work of a behavior analyst is to understand why individuals behave the ways that they do. These analysts study how pharmacological, biological, and experiential factors affect the behavior or people. By recognizing that behavior is something each person does, the behavior analyst places emphasis on studying aspects that influence how individuals behave. (

Behavior analysts have made important discoveries that have helped to address behavioral problems, such as taking drugs, workplace safety, education, and healthy eating.

If you are considering a career as a behavior analyst, below is critical information to know about the field.

What Is Behavior Analysis?

Behavior analysis is the study of behavior. The philosophy of this field is behaviorism, which is based on the idea that attempts to improve the lives of human beings through changes in behavior are most effective if the behavior is the primary focus.

Behavior analysts have done thousands of studies to identify the major laws of behavior, which are the predictable ways in which we learn behavior and how it evolves over time. The theme of this work is that behavior is a product of life circumstances, especially the events that follow the behavior immediately.

Behavior analysts have used this information to come up with many treatment approaches and techniques to analyze and change behavior, which leads to improved lives.

This approach is known as applied behavior analysis and is mostly based on behavior and consequences. Therefore, techniques often involve teaching people better ways of behaving and altering the social implications of current behavior. (

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What Do Behavior Analysts Do?

Your job duties will vary based on the type of behavior analyst you are. Below are the most common types and what they do: (

  • Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist (ABA): Uses applied behavior analysis as a type of treatment, which is the process of studying a person’s behavior to put into action the right behavioral interventions. ABA therapy is often used with autistic children but not exclusively. ABA uses positive reinforcement to bring about desirable behaviors and improve the child’s skills. Most ABA therapists work with a child one-on-one.
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA): This type of behavior analyst does many of the same duties as the ABA, but this is a higher-level certification that is required to work in a supervisory capacity and many school districts.
  • Certifed Austims Specialist (CAS): This occupation is for behavior analysts who have at least a master’s degree and has worked in behavior analysis for two years.

Where Do Behavior Analysts Work?

Many professionals working in behavior analysis offer services to people with autism, as the use of applied behavior analysis is known to be effective in children with behavior disorders. (

There are other areas that behavior analysts can work in that are not heard about as often because most insurance companies do not fund them. These include behavior analysts working in education, businesses, and schools.

After earning your master’s degree and your Board Certified Behavior Analyst credential, you may work as an independent consultant for a corporation offering services to autistic children. You may supervise registered behavior technicians or direct care therapists. You also may provide services directly to people with autism and engage in staff training.

You also can work as a behavior analyst in education where you will work directly with students with autism, supervise other therapists, administer assessments, and evaluate programs.

Lastly, you may be employed in organizational behavioral management, which is behavior analysis applied to business organizations. You will typically apply your skills to groups of business professionals. Responsibilities include doing group assessments, leading group meetings, and group training.

What Is the Job Outlook for Behavior Analysts?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for psychologists and behavior analysts will rise by 14% through 2028, which is much faster than average. (

It is anticipated that employment for counseling and clinical psychologists as well as behavior analysts will rise because of more demand for services in schools, hospitals, and mental health centers. Now that autism is more widely diagnosed in children, it is expected there will be more jobs available for behavior analysts working with autistic children.

How Can You Become a Behavior Analyst?

The most common type of behavior analyst is the BCBA or board-certified behavior analyst. This is a graduate-level practitioner who can offer behavior analysis for many kinds of clients in many settings. To become a BCBA, you have three options: (

  • Classes: Obtain a master’s degree from a behavior analysis program with appropriate coursework and a supervised clinical internship.
  • Faculty teaching and research: Earning a graduate degree in psychology or education, working in a full-time behavior analysis faculty role, and several thousand hours of practical experience.
  • Postdoctoral experience: Having a doctoral degree in psychology or in a related field that was conferred more than 10 years ago, with more than 10 years of postgraduate work experience.
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What Do Exams and Licensing Involve?

To become a behavior analyst with BCBA designation, you need to pass a test offered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Also, the behavior analysis profession is becoming more regulated, with licensure now required in at least 30 states. Check with your state government’s website to see if you need a license to practice as a behavioral analyst.

As more behavioral problems in both children and adults are being diagnosed today, there is more demand for behavior analysts than ever before. By working with a behavior analyst, the patient can improve their behavior as it affects academic or work performance, as well as personal relationships. If you are interested in this field, review the online degree options on this website in behavior analysis. Do your research, choose a program, and then you will be on your way to a rewarding career.