While general psychologists study a variety of social, emotional, and cognitive actions, behavioral psychologists focus on a person's observed actions. They look for patterns in behavior and explore ways to help patients change their behavior or habits. Behavioral psychologists work in a variety of settings, such as in a private practice or government agency. Many schools also lean on the expertise of psychologists with specialized training in behavioral psychology to work with students with cognitive disabilities, such as autism. The Centers for Disease Control found 1 in 59 children are identified with an autism spectrum disorder in 2014, up from 1 in 50 children in 2000. Psychologists help these children and their families develop communication skills, improve their social skills, and decrease behavioral problems. Behavioral psychologists may also work with corporations to study consumer behaviors and why people buy certain products.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 14% growth in clinical, counseling, and school psychology employment through 2026, and behavioral psychology offers strong job growth potential in this industry. Below, learn how an online master's degree in behavioral psychology prepares you to enter an exciting, rewarding field.
Psychologists can make a comfortable living; however, location, work setting, and experience can all affect yearly earnings. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn a mean wage of $78,690; though salaries can be as low as $42,460, or as high as $124,000. Elementary and secondary schools offer the most employment opportunities for clinical psychologists, with more than 43,570 employed at a mean wage of $77,430. Conversely, home health services are the most lucrative, with an annual mean salary of $93,910. The chart below offers information on employment in the top-paying states for individuals with an online master's degree in behavioral psychology.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
A specialization in behavioral psychology provides graduates with the expertise to help individuals build healthy habits and modify troublesome actions. This knowledge opens the door to numerous opportunities in the counseling, social work, or scientific fields -- depending on your interests and abilities. Individuals considering clinical practice, for example, need to be understanding and empathetic to diverse populations in need of assistance. Scientific and research-focused jobs require analytical skills and an advanced comprehension of statistics. Regardless of the career path, psychologists must demonstrate an attention to detail and keen observational abilities.
Annual Median Salary: $43,300
Projected Growth Rate: 23%
Counselors in this specialization work with individuals trying to rebuild their lives as they recover from drug or alcohol addictions. These counselors often incorporate principles of 12-step recovery programs as part of their treatment plans, along with individual or group counseling sessions. Clients may have voluntarily sought the counselor's services, or they may be fulfilling court requirements. Most substance abuse counselors work in outpatient substance abuse centers or residential facilities.
Annual Median Salary: $47,980
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
Social workers assess a client's overall needs beyond behavioral or emotional counseling. They often research and refer clients to other agencies or services that can assist with meeting basic needs like childcare or housing. They also provide treatment for behavioral disorders -- provided they have been licensed in their state to do so. Some work with children and families, while others may work through schools or hospitals.
Annual Median Salary: $77,030
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
Psychologists study behavioral and thought processes, and can diagnose and treat behavioral disorders. They use a combination of observation and interviews to assess patient needs and develop treatment plans. They also research how people make decisions, what factors may impact behavior, and provide a scientific basis for future treatment plans. While an online master's degree in behavioral psychology may qualify applicants for entry-level employment, most positions require a master's degree or higher.
Annual Median Salary: $34,860
Projected Growth Rate: 13%
These counselors work with individuals who suffer from physical, developmental, cognitive, or emotional disabilities. They help clients overcome the psychological impacts of their disability, and gain a better understanding of their strengths and abilities. Some counselors are also specialized in helping clients with new employment opportunities. Licensing varies by state, but most jobs require a master's degree in psychology or a closely related field.
Annual Median Salary: $79,650
Projected Growth Rate: 1%
While many psychologists work one-on-one with patients -- or in small groups -- sociologists take a broader view. They collect data and study human behavior on a large scale, and translate this information into insight for policy and lawmakers in areas such as education, health, crime, and poverty. Sociologists need analytical and critical-thinking skills, as well as strong communication skills.
To pursue an online master's degree in behavioral psychology, students must hold an undergraduate degree in a related field and complete the Graduate Record Exam. Exact requirements vary by school, but most degrees require three years of full-time study. The courses below offer a sampling of required courses.
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