Home » Clinical Psychology » Behavioral Psychology

Careers in Behavioral Psychology

Learn what a behavioral psychologist does and what you’ll need to do to become one.

busy city street
busy city street

Behavioral psychology professionals assume that since all behavior is learned through the conditioning that occurs during interactions with an individual’s environment, it can be analytically studied and observed.

Behavioral psychologists also analyze how human actions affect decision-making processes.

Behavioral psychologists perform the following duties:

  • Conduct research utilizing conditioning and stimuli to study human behavior
  • Teach at colleges and universities
  • Work with children in private practice, after trauma—or as an elementary, middle or high school teacher
  • Work in social work or counseling to help people understand and change negative behavior, such as drug addiction; or help people suffering from mental health disorders
  • Work in business to help companies understand behavior and find a competitive advantage
  • Work in government agencies, correctional centers or law enforcement

Work Environment

Like many fields of psychology, behavioral psychologists work in different environments; if they maintain a private practice, they’ll build their schedule around the needs of their patients. If they work at a university or college, they must be prepared for class, be responsive to students and perform research.

Regardless of specific occupation, behavioral psychologists will work with other fields of psychology professionals, such as clinical psychologists or experimental psychologists to conduct research and formulate data.

Salaries

Behavioral psychologists are part of the larger field of psychologists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics. Check salaries for your state below.

Psychologists, All Other

National data

Median Salary: $102,900

Projected job growth: 2.8%

10th Percentile: $39,760

25th Percentile: $73,910

75th Percentile: $120,240

90th Percentile: $133,200

Projected job growth: 2.8%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $113,340 $74,360 $137,780
Alabama $104,420 $39,560 $123,800
Arkansas $95,200 $26,230 $119,770
Arizona $105,000 $47,780 $124,090
California $116,490 $52,520 $165,060
Connecticut $113,570 $42,180 $133,760
District of Columbia $105,300 $51,670 $135,030
Florida $104,720 $48,690 $127,590
Georgia $101,340 $64,650 $119,770
Hawaii $105,640 $23,680 $142,380
Iowa $113,630 $62,350 $129,040
Idaho $92,120 $48,920 $113,630
Illinois $101,600 $38,310 $130,050
Indiana $98,280 $39,380 $120,790
Kansas $102,380 $29,350 $122,150
Kentucky $104,420 $64,270 $121,330
Louisiana $103,040 $43,720 $119,930
Massachusetts $112,860 $49,170 $133,370
Maryland $114,050 $52,170 $159,700
Maine $72,790 $48,770 $104,420
Michigan $64,650 $39,340 $121,410
Minnesota $64,500 $39,560 $130,360
Missouri $105,960 $46,760 $121,530
Mississippi $92,120 $26,230 $119,770
North Carolina $96,430 $46,890 $119,770
North Dakota $101,360 $48,920 $128,380
New Jersey $98,680 $38,210 $127,750
New Mexico $101,980 $26,350 $120,540
Nevada $99,740 $48,920 $128,770
New York $110,550 $30,160 $138,400
Ohio $105,500 $39,090 $132,390
Oklahoma $99,420 $39,630 $124,900
Oregon $108,160 $49,190 $169,620
Pennsylvania $107,540 $50,520 $130,210
Rhode Island $62,410 $29,820 $151,680
South Carolina $110,550 $47,580 $136,840
South Dakota $101,340 $26,230 $119,770
Texas $105,930 $52,960 $127,130
Utah $104,420 $44,990 $135,690
Virginia $107,630 $61,550 $134,780
Vermont $98,280 $77,020 $119,770
Washington $111,030 $56,730 $131,210
Wisconsin $95,200 $46,580 $124,690
West Virginia $40,730 $31,140 $110,550
Wyoming $113,630 $26,230 $169,620

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Training and Education

A doctoral degree is required to become a behavioral psychologist. This advanced behavioral science degree allows you to have a private practice, teach, research, counsel—or work for a government agency. A doctorate in psychology will involve a dissertation, courses in quantitative experimental methods and research design, and will take 4 to 5 years to complete. It will also be necessary for you to finish an internship, which will give you the experience needed to develop your skills as a behavioral psychologist.
Sources: wow.com; psychology.about.com