Applied behavioral analysis is a professional field within applied psychology that works to determine the cause of behavioral disorders and issues in various patients and how to resolve those issues. Salaries for professional applied behavioral analysts are better than salaries for related occupations in counseling, but educational and certification requirements for work can be strict.
Applied behavioral analysts possessing at least a master's degree earn salaries that range from $40,000 per year to $60,000 per year, according to the most recent career salary data published as of July 2011 by the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis. FABA also reported an average salary of $45,000 per year for applied behavioral analysts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level for all substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was $37,030 as of May 2008.
Undergraduate and graduate degrees in applied behavioral analysis are available from select colleges, but many behavioral analysts find professional employment with related degrees, such as behavioral science, general psychology or education. Coursework in applied behavioral analysis typically covers educational and developmental psychology, clinical psychology, counseling and proper research methods. Some colleges, such as St. Cloud State University and Sage Graduate Schools, offer master's-accredited online programs in applied behavioral analysis.
Applied behavioral analysts can benefit from a variety of credentials and certifications available to professional counselors. Within the field of applied behavioral analysis, professionals can earn the Board Certified Behavioral Analyst credential through the Association for Behavioral Analysis. Applied behavioral analysts employed in counseling positions can also become certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which can exempt counselors from certain pre-licensing requirements in some states. Some educational programs in applied behavioral analysis include certification through the Behavioral Analysis Certification Board.
Applied behavioral analysts work with behaviorally challenged individuals of all ages in a variety of settings. Employment settings include residential facilities, therapeutic clinics, schools and even the homes of clients. Qualifications for applied behavioral analyst positions usually include professional certification and one or two years' experience after certification. Applied behavioral analysts must be skilled in their ability to observe behaviors, communicate effectively and interact with many people exhibiting various behavioral issues.