A Rewarding Career: Opportunities for the Behavioral Therapist

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A behavioral therapist job description often encompasses working with clients to diagnose and change their behaviors. But while counseling is still a professional option for an individual with an advanced degree such as a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis, America’s rising health care needs have created many new careers and opportunities.

Earning a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis can prepare you for roles helping patients deal with addiction, mental health issues, and autism spectrum disorder, as well as for a career in organizational behavior management, sports performance, health service management, and more.

Behavioral Analysis and Therapist Jobs

While applied behavior analysts are typically tasked with analyzing the behavior of patients and creating treatment plans, the overarching behavioral therapist job description varies greatly according to the career choice. Some behavior therapists assume an administrative role in hospitals or clinics, while others work directly with clients.

Below are several examples of behavioral therapist job descriptions that applied behavior analysts may encounter.

Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)

A Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) works directly under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). In this supportive role, they assist with tasks such as data collection, monitoring a client’s progress, and organizational paperwork.
Although they are less experienced behavioral therapists, still have highly varied BCaBA’s roles at work. The assistant analyst may find work in fields such as special needs early education, addiction medicine, autism spectrum disorder therapy, business, or research.

To become a BCaBA, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requires at least an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, supervised practical experience, and completion of an examination.

The key skills of a BCaBA include:

Data Analysis and Behavioral Definition: A BCaBA aids the BCBA in collecting, measuring, plotting, and interpreting behavioral data, often directly from clients. Behaviors must be defined in objective, actionable terms.

Implementing Behavioral Support Plans: A BCaBA will assist the BCBA in designing and implementing support plans, from the data analysis stage to working directly with clients and monitoring their progress.

Supervision: A BCaBA may supervise the work of a Registered Behavior Technician and other staff who implement behavioral therapy interventions.

Payscale.com’s average salary for a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst is $47,000 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 23% job growth in all behavioral disorder counselors through 2026.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) holds a certification from the BACB. A behavioral therapist with this certification has a variety of potential jobs from which to choose. Some individuals use their experience as a BCaBA as a steppingstone to the BCBA.

Much like those equipped with a BCaBA, a BCBA’s job description and duties may vary depending on their field. BCBA researchers, for example, operate studies, measure data, and create actionable strategies to address behavioral problems. Other individuals with this certification may work directly with clients who demonstrate mental health issues, especially autism spectrum disorder, addiction, and substance abuse health issues. These therapists diagnose their client’s unhealthy behaviors and create plans to manage their mental health. They may work in private practice, with a school, government agency, hospital, or other organization.

A BCBA certification requires at least a graduate degree from an accredited university, supervised practical experience, and the ability to pass an examination. See the BCBA requirements below for more information.

A BCBA’s skill set features similar competencies associated with the BCaBA position. Essential skills are as follows:

Data Analysis and Behavioral Definition: A BCBA collects, measures, designs, plots, and interprets behavioral data, often directly from clients. Behaviors must be defined in objective, actionable terms.

Strategy and Behavioral Support Plans: A BCBA creates and effectively implements treatment plans based on recorded data, modifying their plan as necessary. Often, a BCBA must create a longer-term maintenance plan once the unhealthy behavior has been successfully altered.

Supervision and Staff Training: A BCBA may have to train others such as assistants or staff regarding the implementation of the behavior support plan.

The average salary for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, according to Payscale.com, is $58,329 per year. The BLS predicts a 23% job growth for all behavioral disorder counselors through 2026.

Clinical Supervisor

Clinical supervisors are health care administrators who are themselves licensed practitioners in fields such as counseling, behavioral therapy, psychology, or social work. They lead a team of licensed practitioners in a clinical setting. They review client records, assess treatment plans, and evaluate and manage their team.

On the road to becoming a clinical supervisor, the first step is to become a licensed practitioner with at least a master’s degree in social work, counseling, or psychology. The next step involves either passing a certification program, which varies from state to state, or attaining a Ph.D. in counseling education and supervision.

A clinical supervisor is expected to have the following skills:

Management and Leadership Ability: A clinical supervisor must support, advise, and assist their health care team, making adjustments as necessary to ensure optimal patient care.

Creating and Assessing Plans and Protocol: From individual treatment plans to broad clinical protocol, a clinical supervisor must be able to assess all aspects of a health care program, and modify as necessary.

Monitoring for Legal and Ethical Issues: A clinical supervisor must have knowledge of all pertinent issues within a patient/practitioner relationship.

Payscale.com’s average salary for a clinical supervisor is $56,757 per year. The BLS predicts a 20% job growth for all medical and health service managers through 2026.

Clinical Manager

The clinical manager is an administrative position in a health care clinic, facility, or doctor’s office. They must manage the staff; establish and implement goals, protocols, and objectives; delegate tasks and organize the budget; and develop inter-office systems for legal accountability and patient care.

Clinical managers typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree with an education in health care law, ethics, financial or case management. Additionally, they often are required to have experience in many areas of the health care system such as insurance, legal and regulatory compliance, and organizational accountability. Most states also require health care managers to apply for a health care administrator license.

Key skills include:

Administrative Skills: Communication, human resources, and delegation skills are critical for a clinical manager. They are expected to solve problems within their team of practitioners, nurses, and administrative staff.

Leadership: A clinical manager must generally promote a healthy, safe clinical environment. This includes enforcing legal and ethical standards, problem solving within interpersonal relationships, and assessing and altering clinical protocol as necessary.

Information Analysis: A clinical manager must have the ability to collate and analyze information, from budgeting to patient data, and create spreadsheets and statistical and analytical reports as necessary.

Payscale.com’s average salary for a clinical manager is $69,613 per year. The BLS predicts a 20% job growth for all medical and health service managers through 2026.

Behavioral Health Director

Behavioral health directors are a type of clinical director who function within a mental health clinic, research organization, medical center, or academic institution. As leaders in health care administration, they must supervise all clinical staff, including managers and other administrators. They develop operational strategic plans that address broad goals, budgets, performance and patient care, and solve problems to ensure these goals are met.

Behavioral health directors often have a master’s degree in health administration and extensive experience in the mental health field. Many facilities also require a certification in health care administration. Additionally, most states require health care managers to apply for a health care administrator license.

Key skills include:

Administration Skills: A behavioral health director must have a broad spectrum of administrative experience to solve both large- and small-scale issues within the clinic. They must supervise a health care staff and communicate and implement clinic-wide goals.

Budgeting and Organization: A behavioral health director must understand how to set and maintain budgetary goals. They must also have organizational skills regarding patient and practitioner records and schedules.

Creating Strategic Programs: By working with a team of health care professionals, a behavioral health director will help design mental health programs to improve quality of life for the clinic’s patients.

Payscale.com’s average salary for a behavioral health director is $83,436 per year. The BLS predicts a 20% job growth for all medical and health service managers through 2026.

Building a Career in Behavioral Analysis

These are just five examples of a behavioral therapist job description that an applied behavior analyst may see. Mental health care is a burgeoning field, with a tremendous amount of growth and variety. Learn more about careers in this rewarding profession open to students with an online Master of Applied Behavior Analysis degree from Regis College.

Recommended Readings

Helping People Make Changes: Applied Behavior Analysis Examples in Action

How Behavior Therapists Analyze Social Behavior

Where Do Behavior Therapists Work? Providing Support Services in Many Settings

Sources

BCBA Requirements

Behavior Analysis Certification Board, About

Behavior Analysis Certification Board Task List

Bureau of Labor Services, Medical and Health Services Managers

Bureau of Labor Services, Social Workers

Bureau of Labor Services, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors

Payscale, Clinical Supervisor Salary

Payscale, Behavioral Health Director

Payscale, Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Payscale, Salary for Certification: BACB Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BcaBA)

Study.com, Behavior Analyst Job Description

Study.com, How to Become a Licensed Behavioral Therapist

Top Masters in Health Care, Behavioral Health Director Profile