BEHAVIORAL SPECIALIST: What It Is, Job Description, Salary & How to Become One

Pediatric Behavioral Specialist certifications job description

A behavioral health clinician or behavioral specialist is an expert in diagnosing and treating behavioral problems. Specialists in this field typically meet with clients and their families to conduct evaluations, formulate treatment plans, and document progress. This article explains the job description and certifications of a behavioral specialist. We also give a deeper explanation of what a pediatric behavioral specialist is. Let’s dive!

Who Is a Behavioral Specialist?

A behavioral specialist is a doctor who focuses on mental health issues and behavioral patterns. Therapists who specialize in working with people who have mental health issues related to behavior or development. They might find employment in hospitals, universities, or the public sector. Both children and adults can benefit from their expertise in human behavior and emotion.

Behavioral Specialist Job Description

Patients with emotional or behavioral disorders are monitored by behavioral specialists, who also offer counseling and other assistance. Depending on where they are employed, they may be responsible for a wide variety of tasks. Here is a job description for a behavioral specialist:

  • monitoring, documenting, and analyzing a patient’s actions
  • Planning for Behavioral Interventions
  • Offering support and direction during medical care
  • Having conversations with patients, their families, and their educators
  • Keeping track of a patient’s healing process
  • Reporting on patient progress and recording actions
  • Taking measurements to see how the patient is developing

Behavioral Specialist Job Description Template

We need a trained behavioral specialist to monitor, evaluate, and treat patients with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. The role of the Behavioral Specialist is to help patients through therapy by creating and implementing programs, keeping track of their progress, and offering emotional and practical support.

Being a successful behavioral specialist requires a person to have patience, compassion, and excellent communication abilities. The best behavioral specialists also know how to deal with pressure and solve complex problems.

How to Become a Behavioral Specialist

Here are the steps to take to become a behavioral specialist:

#1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree is the initial step toward a career as a behavioral specialist. There are academic programs dedicated to the study of behavior, however, specialists in this area can broaden their education by looking into other disciplines. Majors like these are common in the field.

  • Behavioral science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Social work
  • Human services
  • Education
  • Applied behavior analysis

#2. Earn a Master’s Degree

In most states, behavioral specialists are required to hold a master’s degree, particularly if they work with children. It usually takes students two years to graduate from a master’s program. A master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree might be combined in some schools’ programs. However, there are some that permit professionals to work during the day while also attending classes at night. The degree’s specific designation can change based on the student’s chosen major and educational path. The range of degrees available includes:

  • Psychology of behavior
  • Behavioral analysis
  • Education
  • Psychology
  • A Ph.D. in behavior analysis is a goal of some working professionals. Professional advancement for specialists is possible but not required.

#3. Gain Experience through Training

Professionals need to go through formal training to earn a position as behavioral specialist. This could be required coursework for your major. The training component of most master’s degrees in applied behavioral analysis provides students with hands-on experience in the area. Alternatively, you can find training through a certification or licensing program.

#4. Obtain a License

It is important to research the specific state regulations for your intended field of work. As part of the licensure procedure, most states require evidence of education, training, and experience. If the specialist will be working with minors, a background check may also be conducted.

#5. Consider Additional Certification

Some professionals in the field of behavioral science choose to further their education and obtain credentials in related fields. Although this is not required to succeed in the industry, it may be worth considering if you’re looking to advance your career or increase your salary. There are two levels of certification available from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB):

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA): Graduates with a master’s degree in behavioral science or analysis are eligible to take the exam and receive the certificate. This qualification comes with an additional designation (BCBA-D) for a behavior specialist who also holds a doctorate in the subject.
  • Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst: Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in behavior analysis or a closely related discipline are indicated by this certification.

Certificates can be earned by professionals after they provide evidence of their education and training. They will then need to demonstrate their competence by scoring well on an examination. Behavioral experts need to reapply every two years to keep their credentials current. In order to do this, you might need to finish more training or continue your studies.

Skills for Behavioral Specialists

The following are the important skills to have as a behavioral specialist:

#1. Communication

For a successful working relationship with patients, instructors, and parents, behavioral specialists need strong communication skills. They may help students and parents understand innovative methods of instruction and collaborate with teachers to develop tailored lesson plans for each student. They can also use their ability to read non-verbal cues from patients to improve their interactions with those people.

#2. Empathy

Behavioral specialists need to be able to empathize with their patients. To interact with patients and their loved ones, these experts must be caring and sympathetic. Empathy could aid behavioral specialists in getting to know their patients and developing effective, individualized treatment regimens.

#3. Observation

A behavior specialist has keen observational abilities and uses them to keep meticulous records. They have excellent observational abilities and can utilize these to identify trends in behavior or monitor development. They might watch someone being screened for the first time. With this information, they can make more accurate diagnoses. Information can also be used to gauge progress toward objectives.

#4. Logic and Reasoned Analysis

The use of analytical reasoning aids the scientific discovery process in the field of behavior analysis. The information they gather can be used in the diagnostic process. When coming up with new ways to treat patients, they can also use analytical reasoning. They may use data analysis and other methods to develop unique materials for their clients.

#5. Organization

Professionals in the field of behavior analysis can benefit from having strong organizational skills. Documentation may take the form of notes, treatment information, and patient charts. Even if they are employed by an institution like a school or hospital, many professionals still have to find a way to keep track of their personal notes outside of work. Keeping organized notes could be a big aid in monitoring their development.

#6. Instruction

In order to help youngsters learn, several professionals in the field of behavior work with them. Behavioral specialists’ ability to carry out their everyday tasks is aided by prior teaching or instructing experience. Treatment plans could be improved with knowledge of kids’ learning styles. Having teaching experience may also aid behavioral specialists in conveying to students the rationale and implementation of innovative approaches to behavior management.

Behavioral Specialist Certifications

Thinking of the certifications needed as a behavioral specialist? Here are some behavioral specialist certifications:

#1. Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis – Drexel University

The Association for Behavior Analysis International has given its stamp of approval to this course. Depending on your interests and goals, you can tailor your time in the program to either autism spectrum disorders or social, emotional, and behavioral health. This is a flexible, part-time program that can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format.

You will be encouraged to perform fieldwork at a facility that provides mental or behavioral health care, and you will have the option of taking either a “Thesis” or “Practitioner” capstone course. You need a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university with a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify.

#2. Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Psychology: Prevention & Treatment – University of Washington

This course is an excellent primer on developmental psychology and treatment procedures for working with younger clients, and it is of particular interest to individuals who are interested in using behavior therapy with children and youth. Many courses are available that are related to behavior therapy, such as “Principles of Assessment & Behavior Change” and “CBT for Anxiety and Mood Disorders.” Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and parenting programs. The course can be taken either full- or part-time. Students in this program gain practical experience through a 9-12 month, two-days-per-week supervised clinical practicum at a community or mental health hospital.

The program is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to sit for the licensing exam for mental health counselors.

#3. CBT Certification – The Beck Institute of CBT

Those interested in becoming a Beck Institute-certified clinician can enroll in a program developed by the Beck Institute, which Aaron Beck cofounded. Those who already have clinical expertise and a background in this field of study should choose these pathways. You’ll need a master’s degree in a field related to behavioral or mental health, additional coursework or post-graduate education in a few fields, and 2,000 hours of supervised clinical work to be eligible.

You’ll have to take a number of treatment classes, such as “CBT for Depression,” “CBT for Personality Disorders,” and “Essentials of CBT,” before you can graduate. However, you’ll also have to complete a work sample of a therapy session, treat 10 cases using CBT, and go through a period of supervision.

#4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Practitioner Certificate – Udemy

This course may be useful for practitioners who want to learn the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This course is designed for practitioners who are interested in expanding their knowledge of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but beginners are welcome. There are 128 lectures in the 32-hour course. Subjects like “The Central Ideas of Cognitive Behavior Therapy” and “Values as a Foundation for Wise Decision Making” are just two examples of what you’ll be learning about. 

#5. Behavior Modification & Therapy – University of North Dakota

You’ll learn how to implement learning theory to encourage behavioral change in a variety of contexts in this asynchronous online course. This training could be useful in a variety of settings, including clinical psychology, parenting, school and health psychology, and even physical therapy. Students typically finish the 28 lectures and four proctored tests within three to nine months. You should have taken their Introduction to Psychology course and be familiar with the major signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and illnesses if you wish to participate in this activity.

What Is the Role of a Behavioral Specialist in Schools?

Teachers can get help from behavioral specialists, sometimes known as student concern specialists, who take troublesome children out of class to deal with them individually before reintroducing them. Both teachers and students can benefit from the services offered by these well-trained experts. The academic success of children who are experiencing emotional difficulties is typically hampered. When kids misbehave, it might have a negative impact on the learning of their classmates. Specialists in this field are equipped with a number of techniques for helping kids with behavioral issues learn to self-regulate their actions in a wide range of educational settings.

Teachers value tight collaboration with behavioral specialists because of the positive impact they have on pupils who are otherwise disruptive. Behavioral specialists frequently assist children experiencing emotional or social discomfort by developing Behavioral Improvement Plans and meeting with them on a weekly basis to help them reach their goals. The plans are created individually for each kid.

Pediatric Behavioral Specialist

Pediatric Behavioral Specialist is a doctor who focuses on the psychology and psychiatry of childhood and adolescence. They are qualified to evaluate your child’s growth and social abilities and identify any abnormalities they may find. When determining the best course of treatment for children and adolescents experiencing difficulties with learning, development, or behavior, they take into account both the biological and psychological factors at play.

In order to become pediatric Behavioral Specialists, they had to successfully finish four years of medical school, an internship, and a three-year residency. They have advanced degrees in developmental and behavioral pediatrics and practice in specialized clinics. Following rigorous testing, the American Board of Pediatrics grants them certification.

The American Board of Pediatrics certifies them when they pass a rigorous exam. Children and adolescents with developmental delays or learning issues can get help from a Pediatric Behavioral Specialist who specializes in developmental and behavioral pediatrics. Autism, ADHD, and social communication disorders can all be identified and treated with the help of these professionals. Treatment for these conditions often requires input from more than one expert. A Pediatric Behavioral Specialist specializing in developmental and behavioral issues will help you put together a treatment plan tailored to your child’s specific requirements.

They test kids and teens for abnormalities in growth, learning, and behavior, and then recommend interventions. Complexity and a team approach are needed to treat behavioral and developmental issues. Your child’s Pediatric Behavioral Specialist will evaluate the situation and recommend the best course of action. They’ll also act as a care coordinator. 

Behavioral Specialist Experience Requirements

Educational background or previous experience working with clients who have particular behavioral difficulties may be necessary for employment as a behavioral specialist. Specialists with experience in the criminal justice system may be well-suited to work with incarcerated individuals, while those with experience working with children may be necessary for roles in schools or daycare settings.

The Salary of a Behavioral Specialist

The average salary for a behavioral specialist is $132,982 per year, as reported by Indeed Salaries. Candidates’ salary expectations may change based on a number of factors, including the position’s location and associated living expenses, the depth and breadth of their expertise, and the organization to which they are applying.

What Is the Role of a Behavior Specialist?

Assessing and analyzing patient actions. Treatment plans for behavioral problems are being developed and implemented. Helping people feel better while they are being treated. Sharing treatment plans with the patient’s school, care team, and loved ones

What Does a Behavioral Specialist Do on a Resume?

Assessing the conduct of children or adults, making a diagnosis of behavioral or emotional problems, providing behavioral therapy services, and making recommendations to enhance academic or occupational performance are typical tasks included on resumes for the position of behavioral specialist.

What Is the Role of a Behavior Specialist Coordinator?

The school’s Behavior Support Coordinator will arrange for a temporary, structured alternative environment within the school until the kid is ready to return to their normal classroom. The Coordinator will follow the Special Education Teacher’s and conduct Specialist’s lead when it comes to managing student conduct.

Final Thoughts

If you want to make a difference in people’s lives, becoming a behavioral specialist is a promising field to enter. A behavioral specialist is an expert in the field of mental health counseling who teaches patients and students new methods of coping with challenging situations. If you’re on the fence about whether or not this is the correct career path for you, finding out more about the day-to-day tasks, required skills, average compensation, and job outlook will help.


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